Barbados removes visa restrictions for select Haitians

Barbados has became the latest Caribbean Community (CARICOM)-member country to remove visa restrictions for Haitian diplomats and business people seeking to travel to the island on business, according to media reports.

To date, 10 of the CARICOM-member states have signed the agreement with Haiti, aimed at helping the earthquake-ravaged country, French-speaking Caribbean country rebuild by growing its economy.

“Haiti is a member of CARICOM, and we, as members, have to facilitate our regional people,” the Miami Herald quoted Barbados’ Foreign Minister Maxine McClean as saying.

“Certainly, a good place to start is with businessmen, especially at this time,” she added. “It is important that they be able to move around the region.”

The paper said McClean signed on behalf of Barbados, while Haiti’s CARICOM Special Envoy John P. Alexis, signed on behalf of his country, during the just-concluded CARICOM summit in Paramaribo, Suriname.

It said the agreement is part of a larger one by CARICOM in aiding Haiti rebuild by allowing free movement of diplomats and business people with a United States, French or United Kingdom visa seeking to do business.

According to the Herald, Alexis said, overall, the summit was a success for Haiti, stating that in addition to the visa waiver agreement with Barbados, Haiti received an extension for the Haiti-CARICOM Office to stay open for the next six months.

Guyana will also name an honorary consul to Haiti to help the country strengthen its agriculture sector, the paper said.

In the next two weeks, Suriname will take a business delegation to Haiti, and St. Lucia has agreed to help in the development of its social security system program.

“An invitation from Haiti was extended to the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago to visit Haiti with government and business leaders of Trinidad,” Alexis said.

The Herald also said Chile President Sebastián Piñera expressed his country’s “continued support and commitment to Haiti and its children.”

Piñera held bilateral talks with Trinidad, Jamaica, Suriname and Barbados, and met with all CARICOM leaders in a closed-door session during the summit, the paper said.

Chile is making a bid for a permanent seat on the United Nation’s Security Council next year.