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A Witness for Brazil’s Haitians

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As an inaugural Ford Foundation Law School Fellow, Gabrielle Apollon ’15 worked at Conectas Human Rights in São Paulo during the summer of 2013. Just two months later, she testified before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights about the difficult journeys Haitian migrants undertook to reach Brazil.

While Brazil offers humanitarian visas for Haitians, migrants typically paid racketeers $3,000 to $5,000, unaware of or misinformed about visa requirements. Along the route, the migrants were often arrested and extorted by Brazilian state authorities. “Many told me, ‘We’ve already spoken out about what’s happening in our journeys here,’” Apollon, who speaks Kreyòl and French, testified. “‘We’ve told journalists, we’ve told government leaders, but every day we hear that our brothers and sisters who come after us are going through the same things.’” With Apollon’s testimony, that might change.

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