Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Haitians reunite with families in Mexico after disasterous Jan. 12 earthquake

A group of 250 men, women and children arrived on Mexican shores over the weekend from earthquake-torn Haiti, bringing to 324 the total of Haitian citizens who have relocated to Mexico since the Jan. 12 disaster. Sunday's arrivals from Port-au-Prince traveled to the port of Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico after five days at sea aboard the Mexican naval ship "Usumacinta."

Mexican immigration authorities said the new arrivals are relatives of Haitians already living in Mexico and came as part of a family reunification program. The National Migration Institute (INM) said each would be granted a "humanitarian visa," allowing them to work and study in Mexico, use public services, and travel to and from the country. Previously, two smaller groups of migrants from Haiti arrived in Mexico in the days following the earthquake.

The INM reported that the Haitians sang "Merci, merci, Mexique" (French for "Thank you, thank you, Mexico") as they boarded buses and private vehicles and headed to reunions with family members. The new arrivals are expected to settle primarily in Mexico City, Mexico State, the city of Pachuca, and in Monterrey, said an official at the Haitian embassy in Mexico City.

La Jornada reported that health authorities administered the A/H1N1 flu vaccine to the arriving migrants.

In the weeks after the Port-au-Prince quake, which left as many as 250,000 dead, Mexico saw an outpouring of donations and government aid for survivors on the island, reflecting a deep affinity that developed within Mexican society for the Haitian victims. To get a sense of how deeply that affinity runs, consider this: a newspaper in Tijuana on Tuesday devoted an entire article to merely report that no Haitian among the recent arrivals is expected to move to the border city. (Interestingly, El Sol de Tijuana also noted that 27 Haitians have resided in Tijuana for "several years.")

In late January, after Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard suggested that the capital would be "ready" to welcome Haitian orphans as "future sons and the daughters" of the city, thousands contacted officials at the Haitian Embassy to request adopting a child -- although no such program existed.

-- Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City

Photo: Haitians arriving in Veracruz on Sunday. Credit: La Jornada


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