PORT-OF-SPAIN – PRIME Minster Dr Keith Rowley has slammed a BBC report that says the Government failed to properly handle the migration of Venezuelans to Trinidad and Tobago.
He made the comment on Monday during a press conference.
Rowley was responding to the BBC series titled The Displaced: When 40,000 People Hit a Tiny Island by Ashely John-Baptiste.
The report noted that the country only registered 16,000 Venezuelans, approving them to legally work for one year, while 40,000 may actually be in TT.
John-Baptiste claimed thousands failed to register during the amnesty period.
Rowley said, “We have been congratulated for what our little country had done in the face of a big problem.
“All those who are aware of what we had done. We have 16,000 Venezuelans within our border, we have registered them all including approximately 2,000 children and they are here without let or hindrance as part of our national hospitality.”
He said, “As a lifelong listener and respecter of the BBC, the programme that the BBC mentioned on Trinidad and Tobago today is not worthy of the BBC.
“Everybody around have an agenda and I am not to believe that there are people in the BBC who allow themselves to be part of other people’s agenda. The BBC is too sacred to us in the commonwealth for that nonsense to go on.”
The Prime Minister said, “We came up with a solution – the country’s solution supported by the cabinet – talked to our country about it, executed it.
‘“We gave notice of a registration period, we had a two-week registration period.
“On the day when the last registration took place, there was nobody in the line to be registered that night, Sunday night, and we offered if any others turned up by the following Sunday we were going to continue over the weekend, that didn’t happen.
“So it is quite wrong for the BBC to put a programme out there today saying that we have 40,000 Venezuelans here and we registered 16,000 and we did not allow the other 14,000 to be registered. That is feeding to agendas of people.”
He added, “Anybody who didn’t come forward to be registered, well too bad for you. I don’t know that there are 14,000 or even 14 Venezuelans here who wanted to be registered in that two-week period who didn’t.
“So that, we take objection to and as a matter of fact, the BBC is a government agency in the UK and we’ll make a formal complaint to the British Government about that.”