The seventh flight to return Haitians took off on Wednesday, this time with 176 people who signed up for the program. The return plan from the Chilean government uses a plane from the Chilean Air Force to return Haitians and other nationalities who sign up for the program.
The latest flight to Haiti was confirmed by Chile’s Under Secretary of the Interior Rodrigo Ubilla. The flight from Chile to Haiti is the second one this week. The previous one took off from Antofagasta with 177 Haitian citizens on board.
The program from the Chilean government was launched a few months back. The launch saw many Haitian citizens and other nationalities sign up. During the early stages of the program, there was a waiting list of more than 1,000 Haitians.
The seven flights have returned 1,172 Haitians but Rodrigo Ubilla has revealed that the number of requests has dropped. He indicated that about 100 people were now signing up for the program every week. This is a much lower number than what the program saw during its launch.
Mr. Ubilla also gave some details on the people that were signing up for the program. He said that most of the requests came from people aged between 18 and 44 and that 70 percent of them were in the country with a valid visa. He added that most of them resided in areas such as Valparaiso, Santiago and O’Higgins.
The return program has seen mostly requests from Haitians but there are also 58 Colombians, 14 Venezuelans and 9 Dominicans who have submitted requests for a return to their country. Other nationalities have submitted a request, including Paraguayans and Brazilians, but those numbers are very small compared to Haiti.
Local media has recently asked Haitians leaving the country why they took the decision to sign up for the program. Many have mentioned the lack of job opportunities and problems with the language since most don’t speak Spanish when they come to Chile.
Chile has a high percentage of Haitian and Venezuelan citizens. Thousands have entered the South American nation in recent years to seek a better life. Last year, Chile made adjustments to its laws, ending the process that allowed Haitians to easily request temporary residency. The adjustments also included Venezuelans, who can now request a democratic responsibility visa in their country. The visa grants those chosen temporary residency in the country, which can become permanent if they submit a request with all the requirements before the expiration of the temporary.