Renata Giraldi Reporter Agência Brasil
Brasília – After visiting Cuba, president Dilma Rousseff went to Haiti where she announced greater cooperation in reconstruction of infrastructure damaged in the 2010 earthquake, professional training, agriculture and health. Many cooperation projects will be run jointly with Cuba. It was announced that Brazil will also participate in the construction of a power plant on the Artibonite River, located 60 kilometers from the capital. The plant, generating 32 megawatts (enough to supply electricity to 250,000 homes), should be built at a cost of $2.5 million, is expected to become a symbol of Brazilian assistance to Haitian development.
Dilma emphasized that Brazil will continue to be an active participant in efforts to make Haiti a viable country economically and politically. She declared that it was essential that international assistance go beyond military action [and it was announced that Brazil will reduce the number of troops it has in the UN Haitian Stability Mission]. Dilma emphasized the need for social assistance, saying that Brazil will make its experience with combating hunger and extreme misery available to Haiti.
Another issue discussed with Haitian authorities was the situation of Haitian immigrants who have been arriving at Brazil’s borders by the thousands. The subject is considered enormously important in Haiti. The Haitian ambassador in Brazil, Idalbert Jean-Pierre, declared in emotional remarks that he was very satisfied with the decision by Brazil to issue 1,200 visas to Haitians who were in Brazil without requiring them to have jobs and to permit 100 visas per month to be issued in Port-au-Prince.
The ambassador went on to discuss a matter that deeply concerns Brazilian authorities, as well. “These Haitian immigrants spend somewhere between $3,000 and $4,000 to make the trip to Brazil. By Haitian standards that is an enormous amount of money. To make the trip they put themselves in debt for the rest of their lives. Most of them are at the mercy of coyotes – people who deal in a form of human traffic. What kind of salaries will they get in Brazil? It is a terrible situation. It is so bad that the only person who can understand the desperation of these people is another person in the same situation,” declared the ambassador after he visited the states of Acre and Amazonas where the Haitians have been entering Brazil.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Social Development and Hunger Combat announced that it will release R$900,000 for the states of Acre and Amazonas so they can provide assistance to Haitian immigrants. It is reported that there are 4,600 Haitians in Amazonas and 1,400 in Acre. It should be recalled that on January 19, the Ministry of Health released R$1.3 million for Acre to be used in health care for Haitian immigrants.
Allen Bennett – translator/editor The News in English