Throughout the week leading to the elections on Tuesday, Haitians in
South Florida were upbeat and ready to be part of history as they
sought to help elect Barack Obama, the first black president of the
So when the votes were tallied late Tuesday, it seems as if the entire
area cheered simultaneously. Cars honked their horns, people hugged
each other and complete strangers became the best of friends as they
tried to take in the historical nature of what had just happened.
“Obama’s victory is a window open to my community. We have to know how
to manage it,” says Carine Auguste.
At the Fadkidj Variety Store in front of a big screen TV in between
loud music and fried pork and rice and djon djon, as Haitians watching
anxiously the results, they expressed a variety of reasons for going
to the polls and voting for Obama.
Obama swept to victory as the nation’s first black president Tuesday
night in an electoral college landslide that overcame racial barriers
as old as America itself. “Change has come,” he told a huge throng of
The son of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas,
the Democratic senator from Illinois sealed his historic triumph by
defeating Republican Sen. John McCain in a string of wins in
hard-fought battleground states — Ohio, Florida, Iowa and more. He
captured Virginia, too, the first candidate of his party in 40 years
to do so.
“It is a lot of hope for my kids. One of them just enter college and
finding aid was not easy,” says Marie Josette Josué.
It was difficult finding a Haitian person who had voted against Obama.
They seemed motivated and excited at the prospect that someone who is
black would be president on January. They hope that he is much kinder
to Haiti than his predecessor. The first and foremost thing on their
mind is that an Obama administration would mean granting Haitians
Temporary Protective Status for and a more open policy on immigration
“Our goal is to have complete moratorium on all deportation says,
Marleine Bastien of Fanm Ayisyèn nan Miami, a women’s right
Bastien with activist Edelyne Clermont had toured the precinct most of
the precinct to make sure voter’s rights are respected and every vote
Rara Lakay with bamboo, and other original instrument toured the place
chanting ‘Obama se sou ou nou konte’ creole for Obama we count on you.
Refrain of God Bless America is shouted from the crowd every time
commercials in on.
“Now, we have hope and we can expect better health care benefits,” said Auguste.
At exactly 8p.m. cheers applause came from the crowd as the anchors
announce a lead for Obama in South Carolina.
“Ouch !!! ‘Létènèl’ were shouted every time the screen’s right corner
shows an advance for McCain.
“McCain takes a lead. Florida chery pote Obama sou do w- or Florida
darling carry Obama on your back.
Besides immigration, Haitian-American and Haitians here hope that
Obama’s administration will forgive Haiti’s international.
“We hope to have access just like when Clinton was in power,” said Bastien.
For eight years she had said that the Haitian community had tried to
secure a meeting with Bush administration without success.
“Obama’s victory is going to give the workers a right,” said 1199-SEIU
vice-president Gérard Cadet.
Three months before the election Cadet mobilized the Haitian community
in Miami to garner support for Obama.
Although immigration is the issue close to all Haitians, he emphasized
that with a Democratic administration workers will have accessibility
to health care and freedom to organize into union.
The March to Victory
On Tuesday morning, Joseph Ménard, 55, walked out of a Miramar poll at
the corner of SW 69 and 35th street, a day of work as a patient
health care is about to be started.
His children are grown but he still has to work to ensure a better retirement.
In his younger days, had the notion crossed his mind that the
president of the country might emerge from the black population?
“I hope Obama will be doing the right thing. Change will not come now
for us but in 3 to 4 years,said Ménard.
“We need social change, said Immacula Charles
“More often when Democrat is in power people see some relief,” said
Adèle Etienne a nurse’s aide.
“We can see better salary and better work benefits if Obama wins,”
said Etienne. Etienne added that she knows that will happen now but
she hopes that is where an Obama administration will lead.
“He is an African American. That will prove to everyone that African
American can achieve success and make it in the U.S.,” said Marsha
Pierre, 34 a certified Paralegal.
In his first speech as victor, to more than 100,000 supporters at
Grant Park in his home town of Chicago, Obama catalogued the
challenges ahead. “The greatest of a lifetime,” he said, “two wars, a
planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.”
He added, “There are many who won’t agree with every decision or
policy I make as president, and we know that government can’t solve
every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the
challenges we face.”
McCain called his former rival to concede defeat — and the end of his
own 10-year quest for the White House. “The American people have
spoken, and spoken clearly,” McCain told disappointed supporters in
President Bush added his congratulations from the White House, where
his tenure runs out on Jan. 20. “May God bless whoever wins tonight,”
he had told dinner guests earlier.