haiti flag, Haitian diaspora, haitian Americans
Haitian flag displayed during an event. Haitian Times file photo.

Although they are wealthy in unrestricted capital and unconstrained resources, because of their political illiteracy, low energy to incorporate into American politics and local governments, and incapacity to become a political force to attract American lawmakers, the Haitian diaspora of the United States is better suited to influence Haiti’s public policy.

Research has found that the diaspora’s involvement in their home country boosts economic growth and social development. They, further, find that the diasporas have the necessary skills and resources to invest in building physical capital and productivity, ultimately helping to increase job creation, living standards, and higher growth. They, moreover, state that diasporas love their country so much that they will be selfless to put the country’s needs above their own when allowed to be involved.

These scholars based their findings on recognizing the diasporas’ massive contributions to their country of origin through remittances. These findings are not credible, valid, and transferrable; they lack reliable data to become facts. The scholars show that the diasporas have economic assets, however, they fail to show that they lack political assets to add value to the government or succeed.

Pursuing these findings and looking at how their remittances positively affect their country’s respective gross domestic product, members of the diaspora grow the ego of returning to their homeland to run for office; branding themselves as the mavericks of anti-corruption, economic development, and law and order.

This is the Haitian diaspora’s situation; they seek to run for office, push for a diaspora-led transitional government, and hold critical positions in the Haitian government. Thus the reason, the American government does not them seriously. Haitian leaders do not trust them, and the Haitian people do not rely on them to take over the country. Their citizen actions toward improving Haiti’s economic conditions are misguided since they think their money-sending behaviors give them political power.

The Haitian diaspora is energized each time a political event in Haiti crosses international borders. To manipulate the narrative and to show their concerns, they send letters to American lawmakers requesting their support. In contrast, few others organize streets protests or march to Washington.  The letters show that at this point, only Haitian-Americans have the intellect, resources, gut, and the willingness to fight systemic corruption and end the current criminal enterprise; the only thing they miss is the U.S. backing.

With all their remittances and even their growing capital combined, the Haitian diaspora does not have the skills to lead Haiti toward complete independence and inclusive sovereignty. Although they have been living in the United States for over 100 years, they lack strategic communication to appeal to the Haitian community at large and American lawmakers. They also lack the partnerships and connections with homegrown professional communities, government networks, and political parties.

Above said would benefit them in mobilizing international support and strengthening home-country institutions. As it is right now, the diaspora is weak and unattractive with no political value. It operates as a standalone entity sets only to garner U.S. support against Haiti and, in the process, neglecting grassroots leaders who are currently defending Haitian democracy and human rights. Local Haitians are yet to trust the Haitian diaspora because of the sentiment that any diaspora-led initiative or any Haitian-American in government as a presidential nominee or an elected official will open the door to U.S. interference, for they will be prone to always favor U.S. interests on those of Haiti in times of conflicts, especially elections and foreign policy. 

A politically influential diaspora will reinforce the diaspora economic value where Haitian-Americans will have the tools to lobby for policy changes in Haiti and the United States.  A multi-pronged strategy is paramount to boost the diaspora as a political force with the voting capacity to influence U.S. foreign policy to Haiti.

Until they become conversant on Haiti’s policymaking, build the bridge that brings foreign investments in Haiti, and come together to transform their remittances into investments, Haitian immigrants must stay away from that desire to run for office and receive presidential appointments. They must also refrain from asking the United States to impose a transitional diaspora-led government in Haiti.

Bobb Rousseau holds a Ph.D. in Administration and Public Policy with specializations in Public Law and Managing Local Government. Dr. Rousseau firmly believes that the Haitian diaspora in the United States is at a prime stage to build an attractive political force that can shift U.S. immigration, diplomacy, and humanitarian aid to Haiti and to advance the Haitian agenda around the world.

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