The Barbados Ambassador to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), David Commissiong, says Haitian nationals are being duped into coming to the island following a decision by regional governments to remove visa requirements for nationals of the French-speaking CARICOM country to visit member states.
“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,” Commissiong told the online publication Barbados TODAY.
His statements follow the eviction of a group of Haitians from a house on Thursday night after they claimed they had paid money to an agency that promised them accommodation and work once they landed in Barbados.
The nine Haitians said they had also been promised a better life here but had found that to be an empty promise since they were unable to secure work.
“We did not come for trouble. We paid to come and now we are here there is no work for us. We went to the town, we went to construction sites, we went all over looking for work,” one of the men told reporters.
The Haitians are now calling on local authorities to help them find temporary accommodation, with some of them indicating they would accept assistance with getting tickets to return home, as they have realized that their dream of a better life in Barbados may never become a reality.
Commissiong said that 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”.
He said that a document had been sent to the Haitian government outlining the conditions under which Haitians are allowed to enter Barbados.
The advisory, 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.
“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 possess a CARICOM skills certificate to confirm that they possess these skills, then they can be granted permission to work without needing a work permit,” Commissiong said.
“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,” he added.