Worrying brain drain in Haiti as young professionals move to Chile due to unemployment

Posted by Milo Milfort on Thursday, May 25, 2017 Under: Migration
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Many more young people want to leave the country because of the persistent socio-economic crisis.

"I left Haiti because of unemployment. I studied veterinary science, but I could not find a job. I was obliged to give up my Christian faith to go and sell the lottery, so that I could support myself and my family. Despite everything, I could not make ends meet, " recalls Faniel Pierre, 42, from Fort Liberté, located in northeastern Haiti, one of the poorest regions of the country . Pierre currently lives in Chile, the new eldorado of Haitian migration.

Like Pierre, more and more young people want to leave Haiti at all costs, because of the socio-economic situation that is worsening in this country of the Caribbean.

"Haiti discourages us. I no longer want to stay in a country where there are no hospitals or jobs. There's nothing here, " says Sandro Germain, 25. His dream is to leave the country in the coming days.

In Haiti, poverty and misery have increased. Unemployment, devaluation of the gourde (local currency) in relation to the US dollar, galloping inflation, rising living costs, declining household purchasing power, the cholera epidemic and food insecurity has taken hold in the country, which has been severely affected by two major disasters over the past seven years: the tragic earthquake in 2010, which left 230,000 people dead and 1.3 million homeless and the devastating Hurricane Matthew, of October 2016 which killed 547 people and affected another 2.4 million.

The quest for well-being in other countries in the region, mainly in South America, has become a fairly marked trend for concern among human rights organizations.

"If the Haitian migration to the Dominican Republic began with peasants / farmers, the migration to Chile begins with young professionals and students, sure values ​​that unfortunately leave the country because they have no other alternatives" , Told to Noticias Aliadas Geralda Sainville, Head of Communication of the Group of Support to the Returnees and Refugees (GARR), a platform of Haitian organizations that works on Migration.

"Due to socio-economic conditions in the country, people have no means of subsistence. To the problem of unemployment are added the natural disasters that impoverish them. The only way to get by is to leave it, " explains Sainville, who mentions, as cause, the disappointment with the governance of the country and the non-respect of the promises of the elected ones.

"We feel there is a kind of collective disappointment," she notes.

According to Sainvillle, policymakers should quickly address this issue.

"The situation is worrying," she says. "This is a migration that the state should control so that it does not generate other phenomena like the trafficking of persons".

Brazil ceases to be attractive

Since 2016, Chile is emerging slowly and surely as the second destination of Haitian migration, after the Dominican Republic. In South America, it dethroned Brazil, where a large Haitian community lived, which in recent years has tried to return illegally to the United States through a long and perilous clandestine journey.

While some have actually been able to return to the United States, others who have done so have failed to do so. According to testimonies of Haitian migrants in the media, when they are not attacked by wild animals or by hunger, they are raped in the Amazon forest or remain stuck on the Mexican border with the United States. Last January, more than 7,000 Haitian migrants remained stranded on the Mexican border with the United States.

This long, expensive journey is made by pregnant women, children and young people who want to flee the economic crisis in Brazil. They cross Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Mexico for several monthson foot through forests and rivers with the help of smuggling networks that operate on every  continent.

Haitians are not alone in this long journey. They are often accompanied by Dominicans, Africans, Cubans and other travelers. Many audio messages, in which Haitians recount this deadly journey, circulated loops on social networks in 2016.

After this perilous ordeal of theft, famine, rape, and imprisonment, some arrived in the United States are captured and deported to Haiti by American migration. For some time, those who are afraid of being deported stay on the Mexican border of Tijuana.

Chile is on everyone's lips. Everywhere we go to Haiti, young people invoke it as their next destination. On the social networks, the most used by Haitians, including Facebook as in the traditional media, we constantly evoke what is considered a phenomenon of society.
The trip to Chile costs about US $ 3,000. It takes between US $ 1000 to $ 1500 as pocket money to pay for renting a room, transportation, food and phone calls once you arrive. The purchase of a plane ticket to Chile via the Dominican Republic costs about US $ 1,200.

The Dominican visa 180-200 $ US, for a one way ticket to Haiti - Dominican Republic 35-40 $ US. Finally, US $ 20 as a tax on the Haitian-Dominican border is adding to the budget. To this may be added transport costs and small expenses incurred in the Dominican Republic.

The ultimate sacrifice

Chilean Ambassador to Haiti Patricio Utreras told the Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste that Haitian citizens do not need a visa to travel to Chile; It is sufficient to have in his possession an identity document, the air ticket and the pocket money taking into account his length of stay.

"Haitians are very popular in Chile," he told Le Nouvelliste.

Great sacrifices are made to collect this money. Some take out huge loans, others liquidate all their assets to do what they call this "ultimate sacrifice," and another class uses relatives in North America to pay for the trip.

However, the trip could cost more taking into account the involvement of intermediaries called "facilitators" who plan it from Chile. They are asking for more money than is necessary and capitalizes on the fact that the Haitian migrant ignores reality at the risk of being deceived.

Haitian economists explain that the strong Haitian community that lives in Chile and the economic growth it is experiencing are the main reasons for choosing this country as a destination.

"Now, it's better. I work as an industrial painter in a company that advertises. With a salary of 500,000 Chilean pesos [$ 750 US], without extra-time, I manage to pay rent, electricity, water, transportation and food, but also, to take care of my two children Who live at Fort Liberté. I pay for their schooling on time and I feed them, " adds Pierre, who has not stopped praising Chile's many employment opportunities.

Haitian migration to Chile is in any case a matter of discussion at the highest level. On March 27, President Moise and his Chilean counterpart Michelle Bachelet, on an official visit to Haiti, discussed this in their exchanges, according to President Moise.

This visit was part of the consolidation of the ties of cooperation and friendship between Haiti and Chile. The two countries have signed a "Bilateral Agreement for the Compatibility or Equivalence and Recognition of Studies in the Cycles of Basic and Basic Education and of Middle and Secondary Education".

"Definitely, we talked about it," Moise told the press, referring to migration. That is why we signed the agreement to see what we are going to do in terms of cooperation. They are about 60 thousand [the amount of Haitians and Haitians in Chile]. We must do our best to provide them with papers.

In : Migration