The Haitian leader based in Puerto Rico Leonard Prophil pointed out this Friday that around 72 people were on the boat that had been on the high seas for three days and was shipwrecked yesterday, Thursday, about 10 nautical miles from Desecheo Island, west of Puerto Rico. Rich.
“Relatives of the people who were on that boat started calling me after hearing the news. (…) There were 72 people on that boat. There were minors. I’m telling you because relatives have called me. I have been told that yes, there were children on that boat. Most were men.”Prophil told in an interview with E Nuevo Día.
The spokesman for the Customs and Border Protection Service (CBP), Jeffrey Quiñones, specified this morning that 38 people were recovered alive. However, he denied that there were minors among the survivors.
The Institute of Forensic Sciences is doing autopsies on 11 women who were part of the boat. The agency urged the Haitian and Dominican population on the island to call them at 787-765-0615 if they had information on any of the victims in order to identify them.
Prophil pointed out that this boat was in the port for several days without being able to leave because the Navy was searching the area.
“When they had the opportunity, they took the opportunity to leave (from the Dominican Republic). The ship spent three days at sea.said.
According to the accounts of survivors, the migrants who take this dangerous journey on the high seas suffer hunger and supplies as water runs out.
“When (the vessel) is lost, they can last up to seven or eight days at sea. It is a very criminal trip”Prophil lamented.
He insisted that he feels very grateful for the work that the Coast Guard has done with his fellow citizens. “We have not yet helped people (from the shipwreck this Thursday) because they are in an investigation process. When they get to us, we are going to call their relatives in the United States,” he said.
“I am very grateful for the wonderful work that the coast guard is doing because they have given Haitians a humane treatment. There is no abuse there. In fact, I have been told by Haitians who have come who say that, especially on those trips that last five days, they are arrested and locked up in a jail in the Dominican Republic, where they are mistreated. However, here in Puerto Rico they have been treated differently,” reiterated Prophil.
On the other hand, Father Olín Pierre-Louis recounted, in a separate interview, that the violence experienced in Haiti before and after the earthquakes, Hurricane María and the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse contributes to people fleeing en masse and risking it all
“My country is experiencing a lot of poverty. Everyone knows that young people in Haiti cannot live in that hell. Although the journey is dangerous, they say it is better than staying. The government mistreats. I am very sorry for all those young people who lose their lives. It is terrible because life is sacred and there are many young people,” he said.
The priest indicated that, when they arrive on the island, they begin by vaccinating them against COVID-19 and giving them food and clothing because they have lost everything. At the moment, they have not yet been able to assist any of the survivors of Thursday’s shipwreck.
In addition, Prophil explained that the conditions in Haiti are “terrible” since armed crime and kidnapping force their fellow citizens to risk their lives on the high seas in search of escaping the chaos and having better living conditions.
“The person is risking his life to seek a better life because you cannot live in Haiti. The situation is so difficult. There is no surveillance and they have used Haiti as a bridge for drugs and firearms. That’s why everyone is armed in Haiti. (…) There are 15-year-old girls who are pregnant”denounced.
Moved, he recounted how his niece was kidnapped three months ago and was rescued by a police patrol. United Nations Organization (UN) protecting the American embassy in Haiti rescued her and took her to the hospital.
“It has been a very tough situation for me. (…) They kidnapped her when she was returning from the American embassy and they gave her a lot of blows to the head, ”she narrated when sharing some images of the young woman attacked.
“Someone might ask: Why do they come here? What are they looking for? But they do not put themselves in the shoes of what is happening,” he denounced about the discrimination suffered by his community upon arriving in Puerto Rico.
When Haitians arrive on the island, they face many challenges because the institutions and hospitals do not speak Creole. “It is very difficult and thank God that there is the 330 program in the municipality of San Juan that helps homeless people. They opened the door for me and I have taken several Haitians to that program,” said Prophil.
“On behalf of the entire Haitian community in Puerto Rico, we want to thank the Coast Guard in Puerto Rico for the wonderful treatment they have given,” the leader reiterated.