November 13, 2009
‘Money for Gold’

A number of South American salesman who have been attracting suspicion around the country with their attempts to buy gold jewelry from Vincentians are here legally.{{more}}

This was confirmed by Chief Immigration Officer Stanford Hamilton after a number of citizens raised questions about the activities of the visitors.

Hamilton was addressing the growing concerns by a number of citizens that a number of Venezuelans buying gold on the streets of Kingstown were involved in an illegal activity.

“I was informed that there may have been some misunderstanding on how they (the Venezuelans) trade,” Hamilton told Searchlight on Tuesday.

“I have been informed that they are here legally, and some are businessmen who have been issued a ‘transient license to trade’. This licence is offered to anyone as long as they intend to do business legally,” he explained.

According to the CIO, the businessmen with their short-term licences had started by selling clothing around the island, but then began exchanging clothing for gold.

This act, the chief indicated, is called bartering and was not allowed by the licence issued.

The foreigners, who ply their trade in the vicinity of “Little Tokyo” and the Kingstown Central Market, can be identified by their shouts of “Money for gold!” and “Gold for cash!”, were picked up by immigration officers and were “warned against continuing that type of operation”, Hamilton revealed to Searchlight.

“How they trade in Venezuela is not how we do it here,” he said. “If they fail to comply and are met doing that they will be dealt with accordingly.”

The vocal antics of the Venezuelans have spawned a new market campaign by local street vendors who are now shouting “Money for movies!”, “Money for fish!”, “Money for drinks!” etc.

Concerned citizens fear that the foreign businessmen may also spawn another craze: one where desperate persons may resort to criminal means in order to satisfy the gold rush.

Hamilton indicated that it was due to the diligence of citizens that they became aware that the businessmen were not trading within the stipulations.

He said that the authorities were grateful for the concerns of the public and would do all within their means to ensure that the Venezuelans remain law abiding.

When these licenses will expire and if they will be renewed is uncertain. (JJ)