MORE than nine months after their last meeting, Yermi Santoyo, the Venezuelan father of slain one-year-old Ya Elvis Santoyo, was able to hug his two-year-old daughter Danna after being finally reunited with her at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Office in Port of Spain on Wednesday.
Danna, her brother and mother, Darielvis Sarabia, were among approximately 40 migrants on board a vessel illegally approaching TT’s south coast on Saturday night.
A media release from the coast guard reported that sailors, in an attempt to stop the boat from eluding capture, shot at its engines. That led to the death of Ya Elvis Santoyo and Sarabia’s wounding.
That incident is being investigated by the Coast Guard and the police.
On Wednesday, after countless procedures, calls and signed documents, Santoyo, his daughter and his wife Darielvis Sarabia, received authorisation to stay together in TT.
Santoyo has been in Trinidad for the last nine months after he decided to leave Venezuela looking for better job opportunities to help his family. He had hoped to be reunited with them on Saturday but tragedy struck.
On Wednesday, Newsday was told that Santoyo and his family would be required report to Immigration offices at Port of Spain every month going forward, at least while investigations into Saturday’s incident continue.
Santoyo received assistance from officials of the Venezuelan embassy in TT and the NGO La Casita de Arima.
“It has been very painful for everyone. The death of the baby, the mother injured in the hospital, the girl held at the Chaguaramas Heliport,” said a relative.
Sarabia is still being held at the Sangre Grande hospital. She is out of danger and remains under the protection of the authorities.
Newsday understands that Santoyo, Sarabia and Danna also began their asylum application process with the UNHCR.
Contacted for comment, a UNHCR official said: “Due to the sensitive nature of protection concerns, UNHCR does not comment on the status of individual cases.
“Seeking asylum is a human right. As the UN Refugee Agency, our mandate is to help and protect people who are forced to flee. In Trinidad and Tobago, we work closely with the State and its agencies to ensure refugees, asylum-seekers and others who are forcibly displaced have access to protection and assistance.”
Early Wednesday, Santoyo in the company of two cousins, Andreina Briceno, director of La Casita, and two officials from the Venezuelan embassy were at the Forensic Science Centre, St James, to identify the Ya Elvis’s body.
Santoyo was seen leaving the centre in an emotional state a few minutes later. Relatives said Ya Elvis would be cremated in TT during the next few days.
The other occupants of the boat intercepted by the Coast Guard remain detained at the Chaguaramas Heliport.