In the past few years, the U.S. Coast Guard has interdicted thousands of Haitian migrants trying to get to Florida and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico by boat. The surge in boat crossings is part of a massive migration wave that has Haitians with money and visas fleeing by plane to the U.S. and the neighboring Dominican Republic, and those without, traveling by sea and land to reach U.S. soil.
Whether it’s through the perilous Mona passage that separates Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, or through Cuban waters to reach the Florida Straits, the number of Haitians seeking to escape Haiti is on the rise. The exodus is being fueled by destitution and despair amid deepening political uncertainty, worsening gang violence, soaring inflation and cost of living, and rampant hunger — all exacerbated by the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.
The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald explore this emerging crisis and the reasons why Haitians are increasingly willing to risk their lives to escape their shattered country.