Human trafficking rings are partly to blame for the surge in the number of undocumented Haitians entering Brazil from neighboring Peru, an influential legislator said here Monday.
Perpetua Almeida, chair of the foreign relations committee in the Brazilian lower house, told a press conference that in a visit she made last week to the border with Peru, she found 216 Haitians waiting to be granted a visa to remain legally in Brazil.
Those migrants are currently in the Brazilian border city of Brasileia, where local authorities are providing them with shelter and basic supplies pending decisions on their visa applications.
"Stronger action is needed by the authorities" of both countries against the migrant traffickers who "sell the hope" that one can easily enter Brazil via Peru, Almeida said.
However, the procedures for granting visas have been delayed and, while the migrants are waiting they are in "a desperate situation" and housed under precarious conditions.
Almeida said that what is happening in Brasileia is proof that "the borders of Brazil are undefended" and should be the target of more effective action by the authorities.
In her opinion, Brazil and Peru should increase their cooperation on the matter, since their shared border in the Amazon region presents difficulties that require a "greater presence" and more vigilance.
Among the Haitians who have arrived at Brasileia are citizens with university degrees who have been deceived by the human trafficking networks and have traveled from Haiti with their families, the congresswoman said.
Brazilian authorities estimate that, since the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, about 2,600 Haitians have arrived in the country via the Amazon region across the borders with Peru and Bolivia.
In January, the government granted work visas to some 2,400 Haitians and allocated 900,000 reais ($450,000) to helping those immigrants.
Another Haitians received their visas in July, but Almeida said that the flow of people, which had fallen off, has once again gathered strength over the past few weeks.
"The traffic has intensified because the 'coyotes' (smugglers) are acting more quickly than the authorities," she said. EFE