a New America Media Poll Finds Haitian Americans Willing to Return Home to Help Rebuild Their Country
MIAMI—Sixty percent of Haitian Americans had family or close friends perish in the devastating earthquake, and their condemnation of the Haitian government’s response is so strong that most want the United Nations or an international coalition to govern the country while it recovers from the catastrophe, according to a poll this week of Haitians living in the United States.
There is also considerable concern among Haitian Americans about how international aid will be dispersed and utilized, with one-third of the poll respondents warning that most of the aid money will end up in the hands of corrupt Haitian officials.
The poll, sponsored by New America Media (NAM), also found that 96 percent of Haitian Americans approve of the response by President Obama and the US government, while 88 percent approve of the role of the United Nations. However, more than 75 percent of Haitian Americans believe that the $100 million pledged by the United States to help the country recover will not be enough, and would like to see more than $1 billion invested.
Moreover, the telephone poll of 400 Haitian Americans from January 22-24, found that 66 percent said the conditions in their native country are so dire that they are willing to move back to Haiti for a period of time to help with the reconstruction. In addition, 78 percent of Haitian adults in the United States have contributed an average of $75 to help earthquake victims, and 62 percent said they are willing to adopt or foster a Haitian child orphaned by the earthquake. Sixty percent of the respondents want the United States to accept at least 50,000 new Haitian refugees.
“Our poll shows how deeply Haitian Americans have been impacted by the earthquake, and the extent to which they are willing to help rebuild their native country,” said Sandy Close, executive director, of NAM, an organization representing 2,500 ethnic media outlets. “It also shows the level of concern that respondents have for whether the Haitian government is capable of providing the leadership needed during the crisis and the reconstruction to follow.”
Pollster Sergio Bendixen, president of Bendixen & Amandi, said that Haitian Americans are also aware of the long-term challenges that Haiti faces.
“The Haitian community in the United States indicates that –for them—the most important long-term need is improving the nation’s health and education systems,” said Mr. Bendixen. “Thirty-seven percent of those polled said the health and education systems needed to be addressed, 24 percent said strengthening the security and safety of the people should be the top priority, while a majority also agreed that Haiti would benefit from the opening of American markets to Haitian agricultural produce and manufactured goods.”
The poll, which was conducted by Bendixen & Amandi, also found:
Extensive despair about the state of Haiti’s government. Sixty percent of the respondents agree with the statement that the Haitian government has practically disappeared since the earthquake, and 63 percent disapprove of the reaction by President René Préval.
Respondents are divided on the viability of the Haitian state. Forty-six percent agree with the statement that Haiti will never be able to govern itself, while only 41 percent reject the notion that Haiti is a failed state.
The earthquake and its aftermath have captured the attention of most Haitians in the United States, with more than 90 percent saying that they are following events “closely,” mostly through English-language television. Most characterize coverage of the earthquake by CNN, Fox News, ABC, CBS and NBC as fair and comprehensive (87 percent), while less than one-tenth feels it has been “unbalanced and sensationalistic.”
Haitian Americans are not concerned about the large US military presence in Haiti.
“This poll should help the American public as well as our policymakers understand the strain and emotional connection between Haitian Americans and their native country,” Ms. Close said. “Some of the responses regarding the respondents’ concerns for the recovery effort may also be useful in helping shape US and international policies aimed at rebuilding the nation.”
Support for the poll came from the following foundations: Atlantic Philanthropies Director/Employee Designated Gift Fund, The Overbrook Foundation and The Tides Foundation.