Acting Police Commissioner James Philbert disclosed yesterday that Puerto Rican, Alberto de Jesus Mercado, had a history of participating in international demonstrations, and was recently deported from Israel for hanging a Palestinian flag in Ramallah.
Immigration boarded a LIAT flight after its arrival at Piarco International Airport, shortly after 8 pm on Wednesday, and removed Mercado from among the passengers. They also seized two protest placards which had messages to US President Barack Obama, pleading with him to end Puerto Rico’s status as a dominion of the United States.
Mercado, 51, a resident of San Juan, Puerto Rico, was on a list of persons deemed as security risks to this weekend’s Summit of the Americas. He has been arrested in several countries for his participation in protests, according to information provided by Puerto Rican authorities, Philbert told a media conference at the Ministry of National Security.
“Our advice is that this individual came from Puerto Rico, and there is a long history of his international interactions in protests and demonstrations. Based on the advice that was given to the Chief Immigration Officer the action was taken,” Philbert said.
The second person, who police sources would only say came from North America, was not allowed into the country last week because he was deemed a “threat to national security”.
Philbert, at the briefing, also said six Latin Americans were detained on Wednesday, but were allowed to remain in Trinidad, although protest materials they had with them, were seized. Newsday reported yesterday that the six persons were identified as Venezuelans Trina Henrique and Cureina Martinez, Brazilians Lios Bassehio and Pablo Yles of Brazil, and Colombian Jerome, who belonged to the protest group, The Cry of Exclusion.
Spokesman Hilda Gouverra told Newsday on Wednesday that she viewed the detention of the six protestors as illegal and would consult lawyers on the matter. After their brief detention on Wednesday, the six Latin Americans were given back their passports, and are now staying at a location in East Trinidad.
Local trade union leader, FITUN president David Abdulah yesterday said the action taken against Mercado was illegal and unjust, adding that passengers on the Liat flight were traumatised by the incident.
“We did seek to make interventions on his behalf with authorities here, but it was to no avail.
We will be pursuing this matter further, and we demand no other delegates be treated in that manner or denied entry into Trinidad and Tobago,” Abdulah said at a media conference at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine. Mercado was supposed to attend a protest demonstration organised by FITUN which will be held tomorrow at the university.