Chile’s military on Wednesday returned to their home country a first group of destitute Haitian migrants as part of a broader repatriation plan.
The 184 migrants that landed in Port-au-Prince expressed satisfaction in being back on their island though they knew conditions had not improved.
“We cannot find work in Chile,” said a young woman as she disembarked from the plane, having spent two years in the South American country. “The living conditions are worse than in Haiti,” she added.
A thousand Haitians have enrolled in the plan by Chilean government, which provides them with a military plane for the return trip.
Only 70,000 of the 200,000 Haitians currently living in Chile hold papers entitling them to stay in Chile indefinitely.
But the future of those who have decided to return is just as uncertain. Economic indicators have dropped in the last 20 months in Haiti, the poorest nation in the Americas.
The first migrants returning from Chile were almost left to their own devices on Wednesday night at the Port-au-Prince airport.
Haitian Ministers of Social Affairs and Haitians living abroad, who came to greet them, tried in vain to reassure them.
Pierre Garot Nere, executive director of the Collective of Organizations for the Defense of the Rights of Migrants and Returnees, slammed what he called the lack of planning by Haitian authorities to receive these migrants.
“This is a total disappointment. There was no planning to welcome home these Haitians who have had trouble” abroad, he said.
He also said that many of these Haitians had been victims in Chile, one of Latin America’s wealthiest countries, of “exclusion” and “racism.”