Montrealers denounce 'inhumane' treatment of Haitians at U.S.-Mexico border, urge Canada to act
Protesters in Montreal want Canada to commit to stop meddling in Haiti's affairs
Members of Montreal's Haitian community are denouncing the "inhumane" treatment of migrants from the impoverished Caribbean island at a makeshift camp at a U.S.-Mexico border.
In recent days, thousands of Haitians, including some travelling from as far as Brazil, Chile and Argentina, crossed the border in Del Rio, Texas.
Images that have gone viral show American border patrol agents on horseback using aggressive tactics to prevent the migrants from entering the U.S., such as hitting them with leather reins.
The border agents' actions have been condemned by human rights activists, as well as Daniel Foote, who resigned from his position as the U.S. special envoy to Haiti in protest.
On Saturday, Frantz André, a spokesperson for a group called Solidarité Québec – Haïti was among the few dozen people who gathered at the U.S. Consulate in downtown Montreal to express their frustration and anger, while also calling on the U.S. government to suspend deportations to Haiti.
"I cannot believe that in 2021, the [people from the] first [Black] country who got their independence from slavery, were still being treated that way," André said.
"They're sending us back to slavery, and this is unacceptable."
Solidarité Québec – Haïti is also urging the Canadian government to speak up about what is happening in Texas and to leave the Core Group — which comprises ambassadors to Haiti from Germany, Brazil, Spain, the United States, France and the European Union.
Many members of the Haitian community and its diaspora accuse the Core Group of meddling in their home country's affairs and contributing to its instability.
"We're asking the Canadian government to clearly state that they're against what's going on in the United States at the border between Mexico and Texas," said Jennie-Laure Sully, another member of Solidarité Québec – Haïti.
"We want them out of the Core Group. We want them to say they will not to interfere in Haitian affairs, because that's the reason why people are fleeing Haiti."
André — who often helps Haitians dealing with immigration issues — said he spent days communicating with one woman who was at the camp and hoping to eventually make it to Montreal.
She was there with her partner and two young children, including a one-year-old, he said.
"She sent me pictures and videos of people sleeping on the [ground], without food and water," André said. "She was detained and has since been deported to Haiti."
Many others have been expelled, and others have been released in the U.S. with notices to report to immigration authorities.
The instability in Haiti has been exacerbated following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July, and a massive earthquake that rocked the country's southwestern region last month.
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With files from Rowan Kennedy, The Associated Press and Reuters