Greeley couple that moved to adopted home in Haiti can't return because of turmoil there
Ron Bluntschli is a 1973 graduate of Greeley West High School. He and his wife Carla have been living in Haiti for the past 37 years. They left for the Caribbean country shortly after Ron graduated from Colorado State University in 1982.
"We wanted to experience a different culture and we felt (Haiti) was a nice opportunity for us in doing so," said Carla.
Added Ron: "I was living in Fort Collins when my family was being born. We then left for Haiti, but when my kids grew up and got to be 18, they came back to Colorado. We had friends in Fort Collins that they stayed with for a while. Somehow, two of them ended up in Greeley, so when I come back to the states, I come to Greeley."
They came back to Greeley last year to visit family they had not seen in a long time.
However, Ron and his wife realized their stay in Northern Colorado would be much longer than they anticipated.
He and his wife have been seeking refuge in Greeley after learning that gangs were taking over Haiti, with some resorting to violent tactics.
"(Gangs) have gotten out of control," Ron said. "This is the first time that gang violence has reached where we live just east of Port au Prince in the mountains of a small community. There's never been any violence up there. Now we have to face people coming up with guns and robbing the local stores."
Ron added that the problem stems from a high level of unemployment across the country. He said the situation makes it harder for younger people to cope.
"You get a bunch of kids that have no hope for any future, give them a gun and tell them they can get money by robbing and kidnapping," he said. "There was lots of intervention to stop it in the past, but this time, there's nothing."
Ron also said he is hopeful that other countries, led by the United States, will come up with a solution to address Haiti's needs from a political and social standpoint.
Recently, the Department of Homeland Security posted a Federal Register notice on people with Temporary Protected Status from Haiti.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the extension, which runs from Feb. 4, 2023 to Aug. 3, 2024, will provide humanitarian relief to Haitian nationals already living in the United States.
It applies only to individuals who have been continuously residing in the U.S. since Nov. 6 of last year.
Ron said he and his wife are privileged to call Greeley a safe haven for now, but are eager to return to their home in Haiti once the political and social conflict there has eased.
"The politics there are so hot that the path it's currently on is not working and they're only going to get worse without a resolution," he said.