The mother (left) and wife (Right) of the boat captain
BY Leroy Smith
Six Guyanese men have had their passports taken away in Venezuela and have been confined to a cargo vessel since July without any word being communicated to local authorities. The men left Guyana more than two months ago and arrived in Venezuela’s water on-board ‘Stanford Tug and DBL Barge’ which is owned by a businessman in Wakenaam who has a huge docking and ship yard.
The men being held have been identified as Yuvraj Persaud the Vessel’s Captain, Dyal Denorine; an engineer, Christopher Singh; a motorman, Brian Rodrigues; a cook, Roopnarine Persaud; a sailor and Ralf Misir; also a sailor.
Speaking with BIG Smith Crime Watch Sunday afternoon via WhatsApp Video Call from the vessel, Persaud spoke of he and his crew being left to the elements in Venezuela and the uncaring nature of his boss back home who has been making a lot of empty promises to them for two months now even as none of those promises included, getting the local authorities to intervene in a matter which he seems incapable of handling.
“We arrived here in July then we took three days to spin in the water and drop anchor and when we drop ancho at Puerto La Cruz, the night after we drop anchor pirates come board pon we with gun and start harass we. If I could ah get away with this vessel I would ah done get away with it long but this is a gate way so you have to pass through the coast guards in order to get to the sea. We don’t know why they holding us here” Captain Yuvraj Persaud told BIG Smith Crime Watch.
We were told that after the crew arrived at the Puerto La Cruz Wharf, an agent from the company with whom the Wakenaam businessman does business, came on board and collected their Guyanese passports and left, never to return. That agent’s name was given as Renaldo and he is said to be a representative of Semanca Shipping, a Venezuelan company.
The crew was an initial number of seven but one of the men said to be Venezuelan was allowed to leave the vessel after it arrived in Venezuela.
On the same day the boat was anchored, pirates reportedly invade and robbed the men of everything including food clothing, cash, and equipment while promising to return with deadly consequences if they are unable to leave with more valuable loot the next time around, Persaud noted.
He said that he immediately made contact with the Wakenaam businessman and told him of the development and asked that he do what was necessary to get them out of the country as they were becoming fearful for their lives in a situations which seems very bleak.
“De agent tek we passport and never bring it back, pirates come on board at 1:am and tek everything, food, clothes, equipment, money, everything we had. We made a report to the coast guard by call mayday, we never get a response until 13:hrs on the 19th of July, we call Faroz and tell he get we out ah dis place because things looking ugly and did man ain’t return we passports, he said he go sort it out and that how he sending ration and another captain and nothing ain’t come, today is going onto two months we deh out here” The Captain Yuvraj Persaud told Big Smith Crime Watch.
BIG Smith Crime Watch reached out to the businessman for a comment but was told a call would be returned to us, however up to press time, that was not done. When we reached out for a comment from the relatives of the men who are being held in Venezuela, it was only the mother and wife of the Captain who was willing to speak with us, the other relatives are not willing to speak.
In a sit down interview at Anna Catherina on Sunday afternoon, Sita; the 62 year old mother of the captain said she wants her son to return home and called on the local businessman to make contact with the relevant local authorities so that they can be brought up to speed with what is going on.
The woman said that she is not sure if there is some ‘other’ business arrangement that might have gone wrong between the local businessman and his Venezuelan counterparts which saw the crew being caught in the middle.
She said on Sunday morning she placed a call to the businessman and she was so emotional that she broken down in tears and started shouted at him to get his men back to Guyana as she is now frustrated.
“I just want my son to come home because the situation there with him is very bad with them he was starving like for two weeks drinking water. He lives by begging for food from one boat to the next and carrying out for pain about the body because he get beat up I asked he who beat he up and he said pirates came and rob the boat and beat he and everyone”
Kamaniesee Kissoon 33 is the wife of Persaud, she said that she too is frustrated with what is going on with her husband and his crew and the matter is not being made easier by the absence of presence by the businessman.
“The point is I want meh husband to be home because meh husband punishing in Venezuela he got to beg people for food from other ships couple nights ago he called me and show me he some something to eat, chowmein and some Spanish rice he going and eat, he hungry so bad that he head hurting that he feeling weak and every time we call to get onto this man is a different story he telling we everything that how am the captain going up and then the captain is not there and my husband said that nobody is coming on the vessel and tell them anything, they even hold the men salaries.” The man’s wife explained
On Sunday BIG Smith Crime Watch made contact with Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Karen Cummings who said that the matter does not fall under her preview but rather that of Minister Winston Felix at the Ministry of Citizenship. Repeated efforts to make contact with Minister Felix were unsuccessful.