Haitian migrants opt for the ‘Mexican dream’ after an odyssey through countries

Malthe, a Haitian migrant who arrived in Monterrey four months ago, makes a living making empanadas.

At a small wooden table, he sells fried empanadas and boiled eggs, a typical Haitian breakfast in a nation with different customs.

“I like Mexico because I live quietly here,” he says.

His current immigration status, however, has not allowed him to get a stable job.

“The problem we have here is the papers, because without papers we cannot work. I like Mexico to live, I live quietly here,” said the migrant.

Fedler Domerscar, another Haitian migrant, embarked on a difficult journey to reach Monterrey seeking a better future. Now he is looking for a work permit and to bring his family to Mexico.

“If I have papers to live here, my children come here, to live together with me,” Domerscar said.

Both men live outside the INDI shelter, along with more than 1,000 other migrants. Some sleep inside the shelter, others in tents, eating and washing in the middle of the street. According to the directors of this shelter, around 90 percent of Haitian migrants have decided to stay in Monterrey.

Despite the language barrier and other obstacles, some have already found employment.

Marcelin Pierre, also a Haitian migrant, makes his living as a bricklayer. They pay him 3,000 Mexican pesos a week, which is enough to pay for a house and to eat, he said.

A journey across the continent

Haitian migrants cross several Latin American countries to reach Mexico or the United States.

Necoclí, a Colombian municipality that has become an obligatory step for migrants to follow Panama on their way north, has become a “bottleneck” in the migratory chain throughout the continent.

Necoclí came this year to host up to 25,000 migrants of various nationalities who were seeking to cross the Darien Gap or wait for some other solution to reach Panama.

Some of the migrants did not come directly from Haiti, but from countries in the region, including Chile and Brazil.

“My dream is to get to another country that is better than where I was,” said Rubén de Ríos, a Haitian migrant in Necoclí.

At the end of November, the Colombian authorities announced that the number of migrants in the community had dropped significantly with the transfer of many of them to other points on the border with Panama, but at the end of 2021, some still remain in Necoclí.

In addition to the high economic cost of the journey, migrants face the dangers of crossing one of the wildest jungles on the planet, the Darien Gap.

The migrants are exposed to illegal armed groups, human traffickers and coyotes operating in the area, including the Clan del Golfo.

“To die today, to die tomorrow, one day will be to die the same,” says Haitian migrant Samin Rizcack.

At the end of 2021, some 30,000 migrants were still stranded in Necoclí. Both the Colombian and Panamanian governments cry out for a united response from the international community, as the complexity of the challenge demands solutions that mitigate the roots of massive continental migration.

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