Venezuela Seeks Probe After Baby Dies In At-Sea Migrant Incident

(AFP) — Venezuela demanded Monday that Trinidad and Tobago fully probe a deadly incident at sea a day earlier, in which a baby perished aboard a boatload of about 40 migrants.

Venezuela sent condolences to the mother involved and urged its neighbour to the east “to carry out an exhaustive investigation to clarify the facts surrounding this fatal incident,” a Foreign Affairs Ministry statement said.

The baby, identified as Yaelvis Santoyo Sarabia, died in the arms of his mother, Darielvis Sarabia, during manoeuvres by the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard to intercept the boat in which they were travelling.

Sarabia also suffered gunshot wounds and was taken to Trinidad’s Sangre Grande Hospital.

According to the Trinidadian authorities, the vessel from Venezuela refused to stop before a halt, so Coast Guard agents fired shots in “self-defence”, as they allege that they feared for the lives of the crew in the face of a possible “onslaught”.

The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Keith Rowley, urged Venezuelans “not to risk their lives” and “those of others in the illicit and dangerous crossings” into Trinidad and Tobago.

Since 2018, more than 100 people have lost their lives in sinkings in the area between Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela — only around 100 kilometres (60 miles) apart.

The route is heavily trafficked by people smugglers transporting migrants trying to escape crisis-hit Venezuela.

Boats are often overloaded and accidents are common.

According to the UN, some five million Venezuelans have fled the country of 30 million since 2015, with 25,000 choosing to go to Trinidad and Tobago, a country of 1.3 million, which says it has recorded the arrival of 16,000 Venezuelans.