Pan Africanist and attorney-at-law Robert Bobby Clarke believes it is the responsibility of the Haitian government to inform its people that they cannot run to Barbados looking for work.
In light of a group of Haitians stranded in Barbados after failing to find work here though they paid large sums of money to an agency in Haiti that promised them that they would, Clarke said the developing situation needs to be arrested as soon as possible.
“I don’t know who from the Haitian side would have done that, but it doesn’t appear to me that the Haitian government is responsible. It appears to be a group of smart people that are trying to make money off of people,” Clarke told Barbados TODAY.
Since August last year, the visa requirement for Haitians coming to Barbados has been lifted. This development has resulted in an increase of Haitians coming to the island, in search of work, some of them admitting that they paid thousands of dollars to an alleged agency that promised them work and accommodation in Barbados.
However, recently, a group of 15 young men between the ages of 21 and 36, who were evicted from a rental home in Brittons Hill, realized that they had been tricked.
The members of that same group who are now staying at the Salvation Army’s Reed Street Hostel are appealing to Barbadians and their fellow countrymen, to help them purchase tickets to return home, as they have run out of the cash with which they arrived on the island.
According to Clarke, measures should be put in place to ensure that this situation does not reoccur.
The Pan Africanist said that the Haitian government needs to clearly explain to its people that they cannot just come to Barbados and work, and that they need to go through the right channels if that is their intention.
“We have to find a way to help the Haitian government, but the biggest problem is that we have to explain to the Haitian people the CARICOM position. They just can’t come and expect to get a job. But we have to be careful it doesn’t put us in the same very category of the United States government against the Haitian people.
“When the United States government allowed people from Santo Domingo Dominican Republic to come in freely, if the Haitians arrived they send them right back.
“It is a position that the American government has taken and we in the Caribbean seem to be following that. The exception to that is Dominica.
“But we got to try and help the Haitians. Apart from the history of being the first black republic, they have gone through a lot of unfairness in that 200 years,” Clarke said.
Barbados’ Ambassador to CARICOM, David Comissiong has 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.