PRIME Minister Dr Keith Rowley is sticking to his guns and slamming the BBC for its programme that paints his Government handling of migration to Trinidad and Tobago by Venezuelans in a bad light.
At a press conference on Monday, Rowley condemned the BBC series titled The Displaced: When 40,000 People Hit a Tiny Island by Ashely John-Baptiste.
The programme noted that while close to 16,000 Venezuelans migrants were registered by the government to live and work in TT for a year, the United Nations Commission for Human Rights (UNCHR) said there were about 40,000.
Rowley said, “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 24,000 to be registered. That is feeding to agendas of people.”
Rowley said, “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.”
The BBC responded by saying that it was widely reported that the number of Venezuelans in Trinidad and Tobago was 40,000 and the Rowley government refused give a comment to the story although several requests were made.
The British High Commissioner Tim Stew made a statement saying, “The Government have brought to my attention a BBC documentary on Venezuelan migrants. As I have said, the UK’s commitment to freedom of expression means that the UK media, including the BBC, are independent of the UK Government.”
But, Rowley took greater umbrage to the statements, issuing a Facebook post that read: “Independent?
“The BBC gets billions of pounds from the UK Government to carry on their business. They mirror and reflect British Government policy.
“The UK Government determines and causes all television users to pay a licence fee to them. They send coded messages around the world for the British Government.”