By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Brazil Justice Minister, José Eduardo Cardozo, announced that the country would be expanding the concession of visas to Haitians who wish to immigrate to Brazil. The measure, according to Cardozo seeks to curb the number of Haitians victims of coyotes (those who transport people across national borders illegally).
“We should combat criminal organizations who bring (Haitians) to Brazil, exploring them economically. They arrive weak, sick and hungry, which is unacceptable from a human rights point of view,” said the Minister in Quito, Ecuador after a meeting with government officials from Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador to discuss the illegal Haitian immigration situation.
According to Cardozo officials are trying to find a solution to allow those who want to immigrate to Brazil and other South American countries to do so legally. The Minister said that the objective is not to close Brazilian borders to immigrants.
The immigration flow of Haitians to other countries in Central and South America intensified after the 2010 earthquake that destroyed the country and took hundreds of thousands of lives. In May the Brazilian federal government suspended the transportation of Haitian immigrants from the Northern state of Acre to São Paulo city after São Paulo city mayor, Fernando Haddad, complained that the city was not equipped to accommodate so many immigrants arriving in such a short period of time.
According to Acre governor, Tião Viana, in the state government webpage, since 2010 more than 35.3 thousand Haitians and Africans have entered Brazil through state’s borders and the state has spent close to R$21 million to house, feed and transport these refugees to other parts of the country, where they seek jobs and a better life.