By Sam Bojarski
From the fate of TPS to a coronavirus pandemic that has caused widespread job loss and deaths, much is at stake on Election Day for Haitian-Americans. In addition to the issues dominating the U.S., many voters also weigh the potential impact on Haiti as they cast ballots.
Hubert Alcide is one of those Haitian-American voters for whom Haiti ranks high on the issues list. On Election Day, he emerged from the North Miami Public Library polling center, wearing a straw hat bearing the name “Haiti.” While he favored Biden over Trump, Alcide said whoever wins the U.S. election needs to pay attention to Haiti’s economic inequality and hold the country’s governing elite accountable.
Haitian politicians “take the support from the U.S. government, and they keep making money, and the population [stays] the same,” said Alcide, 58, of North Miami. “Anyone who gets elected as the [U.S.] president should take that into consideration.”
Regardless of who wins the election, voters like Alcide have said they want a more equitable economy and accountability measures to reduce corruption in Haiti. They also want the U.S. to foster a functioning democracy for family and friends back home.
Jerry R., who declined to provide his full last name, said the U.S. should do what it can to support education and adequate nutrition for Haiti’s population. The World Food Programme has reported that as of 2019, one in three Haitians are in need of urgent food assistance.
Jerry, who said he prefers Trump over Biden, said he wants to see the U.S. address corruption in Haiti.
“When you’re faced with poverty and underhanded politics, and a crooked police system, [you’re] not going to come out the way we [in the U.S.] are now,” said Jerry, comparing the relative instability of Haiti to the climate in the U.S.
Under the Trump administration, the U.S. State Department has increased its financial support for the Haitian National Police from $2.8 million in 2016 to $12.4 million in 2019. Over the same period, human rights groups have drawn connections between Haiti’s increasingly powerful gangs and corrupt police officers.
Paul Christian Namphy, a former Haitian water and sanitation authority employee, said a future U.S. administration should work with civil society groups in Haiti that have credibility on the ground. Labor unions, female leaders, local officials and environmental groups are among those to engage in that process, Namphy said in an Oct. 24 interview.
“International actors are too busy interfacing with elements inside Haiti who do not have any political currency or credibility,” said Namphy, a Biden supporter.
As usual, Haitians have paid close attention to the U.S. presidential election, The Haitian Times has reported. Many have expressed the belief that the U.S. will not do much to alleviate the political instability in their country, regardless of whether a Democrat or Republican occupies the White House.
“The solution shouldn’t come from the U.S. or other foreign powers, it should come from us Haitians,” Handy Calixte, a Port-au-Prince business owner, told The Haitian Times.