Does Haitian migration lack political will or are we still in the days of enslavement?
by Sara Valencia Quiñonez
This article was originally published on AfroResistance’s blog on October 11, 2021.
I am Black. I am a Black Woman. The dehumanized treatment of my Haitian sisters and brothers pains me, because their reality is not so different from the reality of those of us who live in the Black territories in Colombia, the invisibility and the struggle to deterritorialize ourselves is increasingly stronger, the dispossession, the murders of our leaders for defending the right to a dignified life and a choice for the future is so great and similar to that of our sisters and brothers that it is impossible to be indifferent.
My mom and dad went through very difficult situations when I was a child. They traveled to the city of Cali, in search of better living conditions, but the treatment when they arrived in the city was inhumane, they came close to having nothing to feed me, they treated them as thieves when they wanted to sell their things to get food and they were kicked out of the room where they lived because they did not have how to pay. This makes me reflect once again in the mirror through which I can observe the same situation in which our Haitian brothers and sisters, the degree of discrimination that exists in cities like Cali, which according to the last census, has an estimated 26.2% as Black people, but in reality we know that we are much more. I identify myself with and am committed to the Haitian people. Period.
To talk about the situation of migrants in Colombia turns out to be complex, because despite being an issue that came out of national spheres, it is treated as if it were a taboo.
It is strange that some general knowledge is treated “with tweezers”, despite the fact that the journey of migrant transit began before 2008, when Colombia granted transit to some migrants. In 2010 when the natural catastrophe of the earthquake in Haiti happened, there was much more reported transit of migrants from different parts of the African continent, but yes the vast majority was still from Haiti.
In Colombia, the transit of the migrant population from Haiti from their place of origin, as well as Haitians from Chile and Brazil, has once again increased. The increase has became much more noticeable with the earthquake of August 14, 2021, because many Haitian families decide to leave Haiti to improve their living conditions, embarking on a path, knowing that it can be a path full of death, helplessness and utter desolation at the mercy of the coyotes, bloodsuckers, who are waiting to obtain a large sum of money in exchange for promises to bring them closer to the “great American dream.”
Haitian people who have left Chile have shared that “You have to take a bus journey for about six days, until you reach the country of Ecuador, then cross the border between Ecuador and Colombia.” What exactly does this mean? that people need to cross through one of the 48 irregular crossings, which are in an extension of 586 kilometers of the Colombian-Ecuadorian border, with the possibility of a confrontation between illegal gangs dedicated to drug trafficking, arms trafficking and migrants, and/or transnationals that dispute the border crossing.
Such is the situation of violation of human rights. These migrants many times have been denied the possibility of accessing food or hygiene items, and when they sell to them, they do so at ridiculous prices, almost 10 times above their commercial value. “Even street vendors raise our prices, they don’t want to rent us to sleep because we are Haitians, not even with our babies.” The non-possibility of a place to stay to rest from the long days of travel, which many and many have died on the way, such as the young pregnant Haitian who died on a bus while traveling from the city of Pasto to the city from Cali on August 14, 2021.
The refusal of the Colombian government has gone beyond the rules and has not allowed, nor guaranteed a dignified treatment in which women, men, youth, girls and boys of Haitian origin are treated as human beings and not as animals.
Despite the situation generated by COVID 19, we can say that there is no political will on the part of governments to provide decent living conditions, far from any act that promotes racism and xenophobia.
If at present a minimum of transit conditions have been provided for the Haitian migrant population, it is due to the economic factor, since the confluence has been massive, according to reports from the terminal, they have managed to have almost 800 migrants within their facilities. per day with initial transit to the city of Cali, however, currently they have enabled a direct route to the city of Medellín and then move to Necoclí, then go in a fleet or canoe to Capurganá, and then enter the Darién Gap. Also called the jungle of death, where more than 500 kilometers of dense jungle full of poisonous and dangerous animals, rivers and streams, etc. await them. They will walk through, with suitcases, with their children, pregnant women, sick women and men, to all of the above are added rapes of women, robberies and murders, but their desire to have better living conditions for them, they and their families coupled with a state of mind that is only fueled by hope can more than that degree of desolation that is felt when one of their loved ones stays or is forced to stay on the road.
The authorities are aware of many of the negative events experienced by migrants during their journeys, but there is no real will, nor a policy aimed at protecting the integrity of migrants. There is no racial justice policy, neither in Colombia, nor in the Americas nor in the Caribbean region. There is also no gender policy, where women and girls have all their rights protected nor guaranteed. So, it follows that there is no real policy to protect our brothers and sisters in a country as important to Black people as the Republic of Haiti.
Haitians, apparently, are not people who boost the internal economies of the countries to which they are directed, nor are they part of the general interest of the world. But, they are to me, and to groups like AfroResistance and other Black led groups. And that commits and recommits me on a daily basis.
We at AfroResistance are calling out the anti-blackness, government hypocrisy, and human rights violations against the Haitian people in the United States and worldwide. We are urging governments to uphold international laws and norms that govern the asylum process. Please donate so we can keep on doing this work!
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Sara is part of the AfroResistance Team. She is also an activist for the Black Communities Process and was elected President of the Alto Mira y Frontera Community Council in 2014, in Colombia. She has denounced different types of violence in his country of origin and has suffered persecution and threats by armed groups. After denouncing the constant threats and being forced to resign as vice president of the Alto Mira y Frontera Community Council, Sara was politically persecuted by the Colombian State and deprived of liberty from April 2018 to July 2019. Due to all the situations of persecution and threats received, Sara did not assume her position as vice president of the Alto Mira y Frontera Community Council, where she was elected in 2017.