The Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard is facing scrutiny after a Venezuelan infant was shot and killed during a security operation on Saturday.
According to the Coast Guard, a boat illegally crossing the maritime border was spotted attempting to ram one of its patrol boats. The Coast Guard pursued the boat and ordered it to stop. When the boat wouldn’t stop, the Coast Guard fired at the vessel’s engines to halt it, unaware there were Venezuelan migrants aboard.
During the altercation, a nine-month-old infant was fatally shot in his mother’s arms. The mother was also injured, and taken to a local health facility to be treated.
The government of Venezuela and opposition politicians in Trinidad and Tobago are criticizing the shooting. Dr. Keith Rowley, the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, defended the coast guard, calling the accident an unfortunate accident.
“Our border patrol attempts to stop a craft that refused to comply and acted aggressively towards lawful, reasonable and professional orders under international protocols and law,” said Dr. Rowley. “The craft could easily have been carrying any cargo of guns, ammunition, killers or anything on the move.”
The Prime Minister also said he spoke with Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, and he offered his sympathy over the incident.
Venezuela’s foreign ministry also expressed its “deepest regret” over the incident, and it urged Trinidad to launch an investigation.