103 Venezuelans go on hunger strike at detention centre

ABOUT 103 Venezuelans at the Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) in Aripo are on a hunger strike.

The Express was told at least 69 men and 39 women who are detained at the facility have engaged in the strike since Tuesday.

“The Venezuelans are on a hunger strike, they are begging for an opportunity to be interviewed. They are not eating dinner or breakfast. They are pelting the food if they get a chance.

“Right now (officers) are not giving them any food because it will waste. They are tearing up the mattresses. The conditions have just gotten worse and worse, and does not seem to be improving,” the Express was told by a source familiar with the operations at the centre.

Immigration sources explained that most of the Venezuelan detainees, who were eligible for registration, were upset at the pace at which they were being taken, noting that by Tuesday, only about ten people had been allowed to go ­register.

“Some of them are in there for about seven or eight months. One of them Micky, he’s 19, and lost both his parents. He tried to commit suicide about three times because he’s been locked up for so long.

“And now that freedom is within their grasp, they feel as though officers are toying with them and being deliberately slow in the process of taking them,” the Express was told.

Over $46m spent on centre

In December 2018, during his contri­bution in Parliament, National ­Security Minister Stuart Young had reported more than $46 million has been spent in three years on the upkeep of the IDC and detainees.

He said a cost-benefit analysis had been undertaken to determine whether it would be more cost efficient to charter an aircraft and return detainees to their homelands, but there were a number of difficulties associated with this, ­including flying different routes.