By Bobb Rousseau and Rosi DeJean
The Haitian Diaspora faces an unresolved contradiction if it wants to deliver the needs of people in Haiti and to become the source of salvation for Haitians at home. However, they are failing miserably due to the fact they are so focused on fulfilling their own high expectations that they lose the sense of who they are and what they are about.
The diaspora wants to build political power in Haiti through backdoor politics or infiltration into governments, not through mobilization, involvement, and engagement.
They want economic power not through social entrepreneurship, but by agitating the right to vote although there is no law depriving them of such rights. They do nothing but whine about the $1.50 fee on money transfers and the small fees associated with international calls. They claim they are more educated than the Haitians in Haiti. They believe they are experts in governance, in economic development, public policy and they will make the best leaders if allowed.
They criticize, expose problems, denounce corrupt leaders, but they are yet to bring plausible solutions. They are so selfish that they even threaten to stop sending money to their loved ones if the government does not adhere to their wishes. Diaspora, do you know that your money transfers alleviate individual poverty, not community economic empowerment.
Hands down that the diaspora has unlimited potential to succeed, but they lack the leadership, organizational, problem-solving, and decision-making skills necessary to achieve a fraction of what “we the people” expect from them. The amount of Haitian diasporic organizations indeed substantiate that diaspora wants to be involved, but it also reveals a stronger proof that they want a piece of the pie.
It shows passion and patriotism, but not commitment or engagement. The diaspora will continue to fail if it does not concentrate on countering policy that the government and the international community use to drive and maintain a dependency system that pillages the resources of the country and keeps Haitians poor.
Granted, there is no easy solution, but the diaspora must start at the beginning. Starting at the beginning entails that the diaspora begins to behave as social entrepreneurs and economic activists to have economic value without seeking political value or a voice in the transition.
A diaspora equity or investment fund is overdue. This means the international community, the banks, and the money services benefit from the diaspora remittances more than the recipients do. Thus, the diaspora must counter policies and multilateral contracts or international agreements that obstruct the nation’s means of control over its right to sovereignty.
While this fight is ongoing, the diaspora must subtract 25 percent of their remittances to deposit onto a fund to sponsor projects, which will directly develop a domestic national enterprise sector with the capacity for innovative solutions to human problems and win demand in export markets. Once the diaspora has products that add values in the supply chain, create jobs, protect human rights, and lead to social justice, it will become an attractive economic force.
The international community shows that money talks or that economic power fuels politics. Thus, the right to vote or to run for office, as well as, the underhanded strategy to infiltrate politics and government are fruitless endeavors, as they show a lack of patriotism and nationalism.
The diaspora must make its presence felt by formulating and implementing bold policy solutions that match the scale of the socio-economic crises facing Haiti. They all know the problems, and they all know the political position of Haitian leaders and the international community regarding Haiti’s economic dependency.
Furthermore, the diaspora must organize itself to become a serious non-political force to work closely with Haitians in Haiti, because it is not possible to bring support to Haiti without assessing the needs of the people. Let’s no longer ask them to let us breathe, let’s stop focusing on the problem for our inhuman conditions and let’s stop practicing identity politics so we can create breathing wealth to oxygenate our economic independence; thereafter, we can do hardcore, die-hard, and active politics.
Bobb Rousseau is a law, public policy, and international development expert. He is a contributor to The Haitian Times.