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Commentary: The saga and bravura of Haitian migrants

By Jean Hervé Charles

I was recently at the Toussaint Louverure airport in Port au Prince, Haiti, departing for New York City; the real action was not with JetBlue or American Airlines passengers leaving for the Big Apple but with the LAN airline transporting Haitian migrants to Chile. It looked like a well organized conspiracy orchestrated by several entities, the airline, the traffickers, and different governments all working in tandem for a human tragedy occurring with the open knowledge of everyone concerned. Some 300 young Haitian men and women were vying to find a seat on a plane that seats only 150.

Upon further inquiry, I was told the same scene has been repeated every day for months at the airport. A year ago the destination was Brazil for Haitian migrants trying to reach California. President Donald Trump put a stop to this human trek by closing the borders to those migrants at Tijuana, Mexico.

Some ten years ago in an essay on the Dominica experience, I alerted officials of the human trafficking observed in the Nature Island. Hundreds of Haitian women were trying to reach Martinique via Dominica with the complicity of all parties involved.

The Dominica government took notice and warned those Haitian people they were welcome in Dominica, not as victims of traffickers but as true citizens. The Dominica experience has since been one of the most satisfying for the Haitian migrants, they have contributed to revitalizing the economy of Dominica and they have saved LIAT from bankruptcy due to their frequent visits to Haiti.

In the beginning

Haitian migration might have started even before Haiti became an independent nation. It has its genesis in the days when the Haitian Revolution between 1789 in 1803 could have gone either way, for the French colonists led by Rochambeau and his ferocious dogs set upon the freedom fighters or for the Haitians led by Toussaint Louverture and later Jean Jacques Dessalines.

Several property owners fled with their slaves, first to Cuba and then to New Orleans, Louisiana, building the first Creole enclave on the American continent with the savor and the spice that characterizes the Caribbean joie de vivre.

Even before that event there was a huge fire in French Cape (later Cape Haitian) in 1793 that caused some 10,000 French settlers and free blacks to migrate to New Orleans, Charleston, Savannah, Baltimore and Philadelphia, transforming forever the texture of these cities in religion, music, cuisine and architecture.

Read the full story on Caribbean News Now

July 9, 2017

Category: DR News |

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Last updated December 17, 2017 at 1:23 AM
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