The removal of the visa requirement for Haitians coming to Barbados has resulted in a major scam where Haitians are being duped out of thousands of dollars with the hope of finding a job here.
However, Barbados’ Ambassador to CARICOM David Comissiong has given the assurance that they are on top of the situation after it was found that scores of Haitians have come to Barbados since the floodgates opened.
“What we are finding is that there seem to be some unscrupulous persons in Haiti and perhaps in the Dominican Republic as well, who are misleading Haitians, and taking money from them.
“My understanding is that many Haitians are being asked to pay these persons somewhere between US$2,500 and $3,000, giving these Haitians the assurance that if they pay them this money, that they would arrange accommodation and employment in Barbados.
“A number of the Haitians who are coming here, are poor people who have been misled, who have paid out this money and are coming to Barbados, believing that there is some job waiting for them in Barbados. This is not true,” Comissiong told Barbados TODAY during an exclusive interview.
This week, a group of Haitians who were evicted from a four-bedroom house at Bonnetts, Brittons Hill, St Michael, were calling on local authorities to help them find temporary accommodation and to fund return tickets to their homeland. The young men said they had come here in search of a better life. However, they said they found no jobs and have exhausted their limited finances.
The Ambassador shared a document with this newspaper, which has been sent to the Haitian government, informing the people of that nation that they are not entitled to work in Barbados, and also outlining the terms on which they may visit the island.
The press advisory, dated August 15, written in French, Creole and English, explained that it is important that there be a general understanding, not only in Haiti, but all across the Caribbean that while no CARICOM national needs a visa to travel to Barbados, that it is necessary when visiting Barbados that the traveller be in possession of sufficient financial resources to adequately maintain himself or herself without becoming a charge on public funds.
It should also be noted that this is not a Barbados policy: rather it is a legal stipulation of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and an integral component of Caribbean Community Law, the document also read.
“A CARICOM national that comes to Barbados as a visitor is not entitled to work, and that needs to be made clear. If a CARICOM national comes under the Skilled Nationals Programme, which has 10 skills that are currently approved and they posses a CARICOM skills certificate to confirm that they possess these skills, then they can be granted permission to work without needing a work permit.
“However, this only applies to a small fraction of Haitian visitors who are coming, because as of now, Haiti really does not have the structures in place to permit its people to fully participate in the CARICOM Skills National Programme,” the Ambassador explained.