A year after scrapping visa requirements for Haitians, the Barbados government has reversed its decision.
Barbados’ Ambassador to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), David Comissiong said yesterday the government was forced to do so because of the “large influx” of people of Haitian nationality coming from Panama and Chile who were not entitled to work in Barbados.
He said the situation was becoming untenable, and a decision was made after extensive consultations with several stakeholders, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Immigration Department, the Ministries of Tourism, and Home Affairs, the airlines and the Grantley Adams International Airport.
Ambassador Comissiong said the situation was compounded because “no one in Haiti had really explained to them the principles of this free movement programme, and the vast majority of them were coming with this mistaken idea that they could simply come to Barbados to work and live, with many of them becoming stranded in Barbados”.
“We looked at every possible way in which we could solve the problem because what had started to happen is that you started to get a negative backlash from the Barbadian people because of Haitians being stranded here, and that was the last thing we wanted. We did not want an initiative which was supposed to be a positive and constructive regional integration initiative descending into instability and chaos, and then generating a negative response from the Barbadian people,” he added.
Ambassador Comissiong noted that although Haitians were not coming “with any devious intention”, they could only work and live in Barbados if they qualified under the CARICOM Skilled Nationals programme, or the Right of Establishment programme.
The Ambassador acknowledged, however, that Barbados had a legal responsibility to admit Haitians on the same basis as any other CARICOM citizen, noting that Barbados’ Immigration Department would “accommodate any Haitian who legitimately wishes to come to Barbados”.
“I can tell you any Haitian who legitimately needs to come to Barbados will have no problem with getting a visa, or getting permission or even getting permission to come into Barbados and to be granted a visa at the airport, so we will seek to accommodate our Haitian brothers and sisters as much as possible,” he underscored.