In a move that could have a major impact on the lives of Haitian living abroad, Friends of Haiti 2010 had people cast their ballot in the Diaspora November 28 to signify to Haitian Lawmakers that they no longer want to be excluded in their country’s political affairs. And the turmoil that followed Presidential and Legislative elections in Haiti may fuel ideas that the Diaspora participation can help to truly transform the country.
“It is a statement of truly belonging to the country,” Dr Daniel Faustin, an Obstetric Gynecologist and one of the organizers said.
“It is a statement that we want to participate in the affairs of our country and it is durable.
As Haitians were called to the polls in Haiti and widespread fraud allegations followed Sunday’s polls added to confidence they are needed Haitians in 12 cities in the United States, Canada, and some countries in Africa voted for the candidate of their choice.
Friends of Haiti along with four other organizations organized the symbolic vote to send a message to Haitians Lawmakers that they are serious about getting involved.
“We feel our opinion should be as valuable as our money,” Dr Faustin said.
Haiti benefits tremendously from the remittances Haitians in the United States send to relatives
According to a survey for the Inter-American Development Bank, 33 percent of Haitians receive cash from abroad and nearly 75 percent of the money is spent on food, housing, utilities and clothing. Food and other gifts are also sent.
The average remittance in Haiti is about $150 and those who receive them typically get about 10 transfers a year, for an average total of $1,500, the IDB survey shows. A Haitian’s per-capita income in 2008 was about $1,300, according to the CIA World Factbook.
According to Haitians who advocate for dual citizenship the country lacks widespread institutional investment. They argue that as Haitian-American who have prospered from outside and gained professional experiences they are better to invest in their country.
Dual citizenship would allow the tens of thousands of Haitians living outside the country to vote in their country’s elections and to be elected, even if they become U.S. Citizens, something that is not currently allowed for any Haitian living abroad.
Based in Brooklyn, New York, Friends of Haiti 2010 had worked with National Organization for the Advancement of Haitians, NOAH a Washington based organization; The Haitian League based in New Jersey; Congress to Fortify Haiti based in Chicago; Haitian American National Alliance based in New York. They each held a symbolic vote at their respective location.
“We thought 2010 would be a pivotal year for Haiti. But with what just happened in Haiti’s election we think the symbolic was more than ever important, “ Dr Faustin said.
Despite Nov. 28 polling chaos, foreign officials claim eventual result will stand with musician Michel ‘Sweet Micky’ Martelly as current favorite
Election results were not due to be announced for weeks, but an unexpected and candid admission from the ruling INITE (UNITY) party that it may have lost mustered belief that a real political shift was imminent.
Haiti’s ruling party acknowledged possible defeat on Dec. 1 in pivotal general elections, raising hopes of a peaceful power transfer in the quake-hit and cholera-gripped nation.
Unoffical figures put the musician Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly and the former first lady Mirlande Manigat at 39% and 31% respectively, with the preferred candidate of previous president René Préval , Jude Celestin, on 12%. Any form of official results are not expected for weeks.
Both had previously joined nine other candidates who denounced the election as a sham and called for any result to be null and void. Both subsequently reversed their positions as their ratings seemingly improved.
The Organization of American States and the Caribbean Community, the two groups here to observe the election, said that voting was affected by intimidation, pre-filled ballot boxes being brought by party officials to polling stations and disorganization on a grand scale, but that in spite of such issues the end result should not be affected.
Haitians in the diaspora agree that it will be the resiliency of the Haitian people – in Haiti and in the diaspora — that will propel Haiti out of its incessant misery. What is need now is for Haiti’s leaders to embrace such a basic notion.
“It will be the end of exclusion of many Haitians, said Dr Faustin.