By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
HAITIAN Foreign Minister Bocchit Edmond said yesterday that the suspension of visa issuance to Haitian nationals is damaging to the people of his country.
He said he relayed this to his Bahamian counterpart Darren Henfield during a meeting yesterday, urging him to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
Mr Henfield has said visa issuance to Haitians has been suspended because of technical issues recently uncovered. Officials have not elaborated on the nature of the issue, and Mr Edmond suggested he is not aware of the problems discovered.
“I understand and respect the sovereign decision of the Bahamas but on the other hand we believe such a decision can be very damaging for our community here because we have a large community and possibly people may want to invite their family members, brothers and sisters to visit for weddings, or funeral or so,” he said at a press conference at the Hilton. “We understand that measures had to be taken but as I requested to the minister, we will be very happy for the decision on the technical issues to be resolved quickly because we believe such a decision will certainly affect our community here.”
Mr Edmond also emphasised his desire to restore the image of Haiti’s local embassy here. Officials arrived from Haiti in Nassau in July to conduct an investigation. They focused on claims the embassy was involved in getting visas for Haitians and finding fake partners for them to marry to gain status in the Bahamas. The investigation was prompted by local reports, Mr Edmond said.
One step the embassy recently took to improve its standing was to recall the now former Haitian Chargé d’Affaires François Michel, he said.
“The fact that our embassy was named in relation to suspicious activity, that was not right and we were offended by that and we had to take this decision to restore that dignity and that trust,” he said.