The Ministry of Foreign Affairs categorically rejects the accusation made today in the newspaper O Globo that the Embassy of Brazil in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, demands that visa applicants pay undue charges or any kind of “bribe”.
Since the adoption in January 2012 of Normative Resolution n.97 of the National Immigration Council (CNIg), which on humanitarian grounds established a special immigration policy with regard to Haitian nationals, the Embassy of Brazil in Port-au-Prince has granted more than 16 thousand permanent visas to Haitians. The only payment required from the applicants for those visas is a consular fee, currently 200 dollars, which is paid directly to the Embassy by bank transfer. The Embassy never charges an urgency fee or any other kind of additional fee.
Similar allegations, never supported by evidence against the Embassy, have been made frequently since 2012, as was pointed out to the O Globo journalist in response to their enquiry. It should be noted that the migration of Haitians to Brazil is a process marked by intense activity on the part of organized criminal groups of people smugglers (the so-called “coyotes”) whose strategy for enticing Haitians includes making accusations of corruption against embassy staff. These groups demand payment supposedly in order to facilitate the acquisition of Brazilian visas, or in luring applicants towards irregular means of migration. Those making the accusations in the newspaper clearly fail to distinguish between the staff of the Brazilian Foreign Service, locally hired staff and people who claim to work at the Embassy but do not. As a result, visa applicants often fall victim to gangs of people smugglers who operate in the vicinity of the consular sector of the embassy but outside the area under its jurisdiction. The Embassy in Port-au-Prince seeks, whenever possible, to advise the Haitian public not to use such services and not to believe any claims that the visa application process can be facilitated.
This new unfounded accusation comes at a time when the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is making great efforts to expand its capacity to emit visas in Port-au-Prince, having already succeeded in significantly reducing waiting times and significantly increasing the granting of permanent humanitarian visas (currently about 1,700 per month). Once the contract with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) enters into force, aimed at providing targeted pre-consular services specifically for humanitarian visas applicants (customer service, guidance, completion of electronic forms, assembling of necessary documents), it is estimated that the Embassy in Haiti will be able to grant more than 2,000 visas per month.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will rigorously investigate the allegations and take appropriate legal action in response to any accusations which are based on false testimony, or which raise unfounded doubts or make wrongful claims about our staff in Port-au-Prince, whether members of the Brazilian Foreign Service or locally hired. What is true of those members of staff is that, in a situation of extreme pressure, they are intensely dedicated to their work and carry it out in a public and humanitarian spirit, thereby allowing thousands of Haitians to emigrate legally to Brazil rather than be exploited by the “coyotes” and face the safety- and health-related risks involved in illegal immigration.