By María M.Mur
Santiago, Sep 23 (EFE).- Nine countries stand between Chile and the United States. Many Haitian migrants in the South American country would struggle to point them out on a map but they are aware of the dangers that line journey ahead — the Atacama Desert, the Darien Gap and the Rio Grande.
After years struggling for regularization and decent work, and in the wake of a devastating pandemic that has wiped out the few hopes they had left, thousands of Haitians who arrived five years ago at the southern tip of the continent are packing their bags to migrate again, this time to the north.
Louisemame Exantus, 35, arrived in Santiago in 2015 with two of her three children. Her youngest child was born in Chile, and has Chilean nationality.
Exantus on the other hand has been waiting for over a year and a half for her visa to be renewed. Without it, she cannot find formal employment.
“How is it possible that I can have a Chilean child but they won’t let me work?” she asks as she sets up a used clothes stall in Estación Central, a neighborhood of Santiago with a considerable migrant population.
She makes just $150 a month but has to pay $190 for a tiny room. The books don’t balance.
“The father of my eldest child sends money from Brazil, and my mother, who I was going to help, sends money from Haiti,” she said.
“I’m not leaving Chile out of fear but rather a lack of money,” she told Efe.
Encouraged by his cousin, Emmanuel Elicier, 40, arrived in Chile with his wife and four children during a wave of migration in 2016, when Haitians were permitted to enter the country as tourists without a visa and apply to stay if they found employment.