Sunday, February 29, 2004

T&T: DR stowaways found at Pt. Lisas

While fighting intensified and the death rate continued to rise in Haiti’s civil uprising yesterday, four nationals of the Dominican Republic (DR)  fearful of the bloodshed spilling over in their twin state island, sought refuge in Trinidad as a transit point to stow away to the United States. As the men made their move and stowed on board the MV Fortunia which was scheduled to sail for Houston, Texas yesterday morning, they were caught during a last minute security check. The three — Mario Terez Yan, 36,  Agripino Diaz Almanzar, 34, and Joel Reez, 16, of  the Dominican Republic — were taken into immigration custody and then transferred to the Couva Police Station. They will later be taken to a State prison until their deportation.

Yan had travelled from the DR to Venezuela to Trinidad via a pirogue and waited at the Point Lisas docks since November 26, 2003. Almanzar had been hiding out in Trinidad since October 16, 2003, while Reez arrived on December 31, 2003. During the search of the Fortunia yesterday morning the three men were found hiding in the hatch of the vessel. Yan made a dash for freedom but was held some distance away on Atlantic Avenue, Point Lisas. The three stowaways were wearing hard hats and other gear of the local dock workers who off-load containers.  Police believe that for the aliens to be in hiding for so long without detection and dressed as local workers they had to be receiving help from Trinidadians. Their plan was to remain in Trinidad until they could board a vessel leaving for the US. Initially the men were thought to have been Haitians, fleeing their country’s violence and looting, but further checks revealed that they were from neighbouring DR, and wanting  to avoid any spill-over of violence.
I wonder how many others have done this? How many of the stowaways may have come from the Muslim Triangle -- the nexus of Uruguay, Brazil, and Argentina? If Yan had been in T&T since 10/16/2003, then he wasn't fleeing any violence.


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