Haitian Immigrant Boat Sinks

9 Dead, 16 Saved After Boat Of Haitian Immigrants Sinks
By Associated Press May 14, 2009 8:08 am

“Rescuers were searching the ocean off Florida Thursday for survivors after a boat carrying about 30 people — many of them Haitian immigrants seeking to escape their country’s crushing poverty — capsized and sank.

At least nine people were killed, including an infant, in the Wednesday accident, U.S. Coast Guard officials said. Sixteen more people were pulled out of the rough waters.

Although the Coast Guard hadn’t figured out exactly how many people were aboard or how many might still be lost at sea, it appeared most of the passengers were from Haiti and the trip fit the profile of migrant smuggling.

“The boat was obviously overloaded,” Capt. James Fitton said. “It’s a tragedy that someone would be so callous with human life.”

Since October, the Coast Guard had stopped 1,377 Haitians from trying to get to the U.S., an increase over the 972 during the same seven-month period last year. Four tropical storms and hurricanes battered the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country during last year’s harvest season, killing 793 people, crippling agriculture and causing $1 billion in damage to irrigation, bridges and roads.

In January, United Nations-sponsored groups said more aid was urgently needed to stave off famine in several areas of the country. For those familiar with the plight of Haitians, the escape attempt was no surprise.

“The economic conditions in Haiti are deplorable, and I don’t see them getting any better any time soon,” said Andy Gomez, a University of Miami expert on Caribbean migration. “And the Haitian-American community has developed a pretty good network here in the last five or 10 years, just as the Cuban-Americans have done, so there’s more of a reason to come.”

Fitton said the boat apparently left Bimini in the Bahamas on Tuesday night and was believed to have capsized or collided with something at about 2 a.m. Wednesday. Many Caribbean migrants who try to reach the U.S. arrange trips leaving from the Bahamas.

Officials didn’t learn about the accident until another boater who spotted swimmers called more than 10 hours later about 15 miles off the shore of Boynton Beach, where water temperatures by the afternoon were in the high 70s.

The boat has not been found, and rescuers believed it sank because it hasn’t been spotted from the air. Besides children, women also were aboard, including a pregnant woman.

Several of the bodies recovered were taken from Coast Guard boats onto land in Riviera Beach, where dozens of emergency vehicles were waiting. Three of the survivors were taken to hospitals. The Palm Beach Post reported that one woman was in critical condition, but the Coast Guard said all the rescued people were expected to survive.

The ship’s sinking came as Haitian-American leaders met in Washington on Wednesday to lobby for temporary protective status, or TPS, for those from the country who make it to the U.S.

It would be an emergency measure to keep people from being deported to their homeland while it recovers from a natural disaster or major political upheaval. It has been granted to countries including El Salvador and Nicaragua but never to Haiti.

“If not now, when?” Cheryl Little, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, asked of potentially granting Haitians protective status. “The longer it takes the administration to decide whether to grant TPS, the more people may decide to attempt to make it to our shores


Barbaric and Savage Dominicans Cut Haitian’s Head

Haiti-Dominican tensions defused after talks

“SANTO DOMINGO.- The standoff Haitian and Dominican truckers staged in the border towns of Jimani and Malpasse has ended after high-level talks including the presence of Santo Domingo’s ambassador in Port-au-Prince, Ruben Silie Gaton, a Dominican Today source said Friday afternoon.

The ambassadors from Haiti, Fritz Cineas, and Dominican Republic Rubén Silié in a a joint press conference in the Foreign Relations Ministry today, lamented the violent deaths in the Herrera sector, and stressed that the situation wouldn’t jeopardize bilateral relations.

DT reporters went to the market district Little Haiti, in Santo Domingo’s downtown, where Haitian truckers and vendors said they were surprised at the latest spate of violence between Dominicans and nationals from their country, and some were wary of talking to the press or allowing their picture to be taken.

Ada, a woman of about 40 who didn’t want to say her last name said Dominicans treat her well, but complained that the Dominican authorities at the border crossings, “always steal from us.”

Talking in broken Spanish while sorting her wares of mostly garments from the “pacas” (bails of clothing), the Haitian citizen also railed the Dominican Police because they allegedly abuse her compatriots by “shaking us down” for money. “As soon as I sell what I have left I’m going back home (Haiti).”

Meanwhile, the vendor and retired Dominican policeman, Juan de Jesus Heredia, 65, said he’s been working with and around Haitians for 30 years, and affirms that he gets along well with them, calling the recent violence, things that always happen.”

He said in his time in Little Haiti Dominicans and Haitians have gotten along despite the “problems” between the governments. “Things happen but just fistfights and stuff, but we should help the Haitians because they just want to come here and get what they need.”