St Lucia PM worried at number of illegal Venezuelans entering island

Prime Minister Allen Chastanet says he is concerned at the number of illegal Venezuelans entering the island after law enforcement authorities intercepted four of them in a pirogue.

The four, along with three St Lucians, were intercepted by a United States Coast Guard vessel and brought here on Monday.

“We did not capture any of the evidence. We believe that they dropped it off in the ocean,” Chastanet told reporters in reference to drug and arms trafficking.

Chastanet, who attended a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Governments summit on Security in Trinidad and Tobago last Friday, said that the issue for Castries regarding the Venezuelans are mainly drugs and arms.

“When I went to Trinidad you are seeing it is much bigger than that. There are thousands of Venezuelans who are coming across on a regular basis and taking up residence in Trinidad which is now putting pressure on the education system, the health care system and the local policing system,” Chastanet said.

Venezuelans have been fleeing their country by the thousands and last week the Opposition Leader, Juan Guaidó, called on the military to support the move to remove President Nicolas Maduro from power as a result of the economic and political situation in the South American country.

Chastanet, who has been critical of the elections that brought Maduro to office last year, said St Lucia has taken some “strong and bold initiatives,” including imposing visa restrictions on Venezuelans.