Haiti, Another Failure of Latin American Integration

Haitians cannot keep waiting for summits and presidents smiling for the cameras / EFE

By Yoani Sanchez (14ymedio)

HAVANA TIMES – Acronyms, meetings, and official photos. International organizations seem more interested in demonstrating their operational status through events and receptions than with actions or results. In Latin America, it’s rare for a month to pass without a summit, meeting, or alliance making headlines and generating a new declaration signed by heads of state and foreign ministers. However, the true measure of the effectiveness of these integration mechanisms is a realm where most lack tangible results.

The current situation in Haiti has exposed the limited effectiveness of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and other regional alliances. Instead of accompanying and supporting the Haitian people in the difficult moment they are experiencing, the governments of this continent have chosen to look the other way or engage in assigning historical blame without managing to string together rapid and practical assistance directed at a population plagued by violence, economic crisis, and the collapse of political institutions.

CELAC and Latin American governments have failed the Haitians because they haven’t even managed to protect them as refugees. On the dangerous route that crosses the Darien jungle and enters Central America to then cross Mexican territory until reaching the southern border of the United States, Haitians are among the migrants in a more vulnerable situation. Without speaking a word of Spanish, in many cases lacking the resources to pay coyotes and stung by racism, they have become invisible beings that local administrations do not want to see, mention, or support.

The lack of programs with residency facilities, access to work, and coverage of basic services in many of the countries that make up the migratory route of thousands of Haitians annually is striking. With more than 12 million inhabitants, the small island increasingly depends on its diaspora, and supporting these human beings in transit is also a way to save families who have been waiting for their relative to make their way, send remittances, and support them from abroad. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) issued a series of recommendations for neighboring countries to guarantee them refuge and protection; however, as often happens, the exhortation has fallen on deaf ears.

Apart from some specific facilities for these migrants, there has been a lack of a joint response in Latin America to the Haitian drama. Governments are more focused on bickering among themselves over their ideological stances, creating a diplomatic furor from a head of state’s posts on social media X, or directing accusations at other governments, rather than sitting down to agree on a plan of action.

During crises and humanitarian alerts is when regional organizations and those who represent us in this hemisphere are put to the test. Haitians cannot continue to wait for summits and photos of presidents smiling for the cameras. A comprehensive aid program aimed at their injured population is urgently needed, and it must be a collective effort like “the silver in the roots of the Andes.”

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