Conference explores root causes of US-Mexico border crisis


Panelists will discuss the historical background and possible solutions to the current crisis that has brought thousands of Haitians from Latin America to the US-Mexico border last month.

As Brazil prepared to host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics in the wake of Haiti’s catastrophic 2010 earthquake, South America’s largest nation hosted thousands Haitians who helped build the hydropower plants, stadiums and other infrastructure needed for world events.

But, in 2015, with the worsening Brazilian economy and skyrocketing unemployment, Brazil began rolling up the welcome mat for around 90,000 Haitians who lost their work permits and won feud. some Brazilians who blamed them for their own job losses. Chile was no nicer to the more than 170,000 Haitians who emigrated there. In 2018, neighboring Brazil imposed new visa requirements that eliminated opportunities for Haitians to work and reunite with their families.

The dashed hopes, the rise of xenophobia and the continuing economic and political upheaval which, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, brought thousands of Haitian migrants from South America to Del Rio, Texas, last month , will be the subject of a symposium organized by the University. from Miami on Thursday, October 14 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Open to the public, the virtual conference “Haiti’s Systemic Crisis and Haitian Migrants at the US-Mexico Border” is designed to provide the larger and little-known context of the changing migration patterns of Haitians who have left their homeland for the United States. South America. —Not in North America — after the catastrophic 2010 earthquake that killed more than 228,000 people. (Register to attend and see the agenda and participant biographies.)

“At first the media, US government officials and others spoke of the border crisis as if it was something that had just exploded, as if it was a new phenomenon that had taken hold. produced in previous months, ”said Louis Herns. Marcelin, Professor and Director of the University’s Global Health Studies Program and Chancellor of the Interuniversity Institute for Research and Development (INURED) in Haiti, who organized the conference with Lillian Manzor, Associate Professor of Languages ​​and Literatures moderns, and INURED coordinator Toni Cela, postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Anthropology. “They didn’t pay attention to the root causes, all the time it took to build up. This is why this conference is important, to give perspective on what is happening, because it is not the end. This is the start, ”he added.

What garnered a lot of attention – and public outrage – were photos of U.S. border guards on horseback chasing and grabbing Haitian migrants on their way to the encampment that arose under the Del Rio International Bridge. The Biden administration quickly halted the horse patrols. But over the next few days, he emptied the camp of about 15,000 residents, mostly Haitians, many with children born in South America. At the time, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said around 5,000 of the migrants had been placed in deportation proceedings, around 8,000 returned voluntarily to Mexico and around 2,000 were deported to Haiti. , where many had not lived for years.

But Cela, who co-wrote with Marcelin’s “Post-Earthquake Haitian Migration to Latin America,” an INURED report that lays the groundwork for this week’s symposium, said that even forced repatriations are unlikely to stop the process. exodus from Haiti. As their report recounts, the exodus began decades ago, with US intervention and support for Haiti’s dictatorial and repressive regimes. And it continued through numerous economic crises, continued political instability, and seven hurricanes in the six years leading up to the 2010 earthquake. Since then, Haiti has suffered a cholera outbreak – introduced by the Helmets. United Nations blues – which killed 10,000 people and infected over 850,000 people and increased gang violence. And this summer alone, the shocking assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, another earthquake and a severe tropical storm were added to the country’s list of woes.

“There is this misconception that people don’t want to live in Haiti, but we have to understand that people who have left are put in a situation where they cannot stay there,” said Cela. “Everyone wants to live in their homeland, where their loved ones are, where they know the food, the culture, all the things that are familiar to them. So we have to look at why people would travel over 7,000 miles, across 10 or 11 countries, making themselves vulnerable to criminal activity and exploitation. It’s not that they don’t want to go home. They can’t go home.

The symposium is sponsored by the University’s Institute for Advanced Studies in the Americas, Global Health Studies, the Center for Global Black Studies, the Latin American and Caribbean Center at Florida International University and several co-sponsors. It will include discussions with academic experts, former Haitian government officials, human rights activists and leaders of the diaspora and community organizations on four general topics. They include post-earthquake migration in the Americas; responses from human rights organizations and the diaspora; American policy towards Haiti and its links with past and present migratory flows; Haiti’s systemic crisis and the responses of the diaspora; and Representations of Haiti in the world press.

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