San Juan, Mar 26 (EFE).- Hundreds of people from various Caribbean countries gathered in Puerto Rico on Sunday to march in memory of migrants who died at sea trying to reach the country.
The procession was held “to create awareness of the tragedy that our brothers and sisters in Haiti and the Dominican Republic are experiencing by having to leave their countries,” archbishop of the Archdiocese of San Juan, Roberto Octavio González, told EFE.
Hundreds of faithful prayed as they carried the portraits of late migrants in the march that left the chapel of Nuestra Señora del Carmen in the municipality of Toa Baja, in the north of Puerto Rico, to the island of Cabra.
Among those attending were Haitian bishop Pierre-André Dumas and the Titular Bishop of Giufi of the Dominican Republic, Jesús Castro.
“It’s a form of prayer for all the people who died during the sea crossing, that’s why we do this procession,” said Leonard Prophil, a Haitian community leader in Puerto Rico, adding that this was the first march and they intend to organize more.
A record of at least 321 migrants died or disappeared on sea routes through the Caribbean in 2022, according to data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Only half of the dead and disappeared in 2022 could be identified, said the IOM, which added that 80 of them were from Haiti, 69 from Cuba, 56 from the Dominican Republic and 25 from Venezuela.
“We want to appeal to the laws to be more humanitarian so that in our country we can establish a more effective reception mechanism, and above all prayer, spiritual and material solidarity,” said González.
At 77 years old, Puerto Rican Mirta Colón stated that she attended the march for “solidarity with the peoples of the Caribbean” and said that migrants who arrive in Puerto Rico “find that they are worse off than in their country.”
Haitian Faniel Charles, who has been living in Puerto Rico for 18 years, said: “I came for my countrymen who have died at sea, to support them.”
Puerto Rico has become a regular destination for migrants arriving from the neighboring island of Hispaniola, which is shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Many of the migrants who try to reach Puerto Rico in search of better living conditions are Dominicans and Haitians. EFE