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#1787: Re: The Diaspora: the most dangerous Haitians (fwd)


Max, thanks for sending this article to me.  I read it with great

I would like to add that this diaspo conversation is not new, I
personally heard it from one of the most successful business figures in
Haiti back in 1986.  This is a label that goes back to Francois
Duvalier.  Outsiders are looked at the same way by all totalitarian
governments, Duvalier, Castro,etc..  I don't mean to compare Duvalier
with Castro, but from this standpoint, they act the same way: outsiders
are bad influence on the locals, they can expose the other side of life
they normally do not see.

This attitude, as far as I am concerned, is probably 50% of our problem
in Haiti.  Most of the other islands, as I have witnessed, advertised
jobs in local newspapers and require experience abroad to qualify for a
given position.  I have seen it in Jamaica, in the D.R., St. Lucia.  I
understand it is also practiced in Trinidad.

I do not hold the key to the socio-economic development in Haiti.
However, I can say that haitians in Haiti alone can not do it, neither
can diaspos do it alone.  It will take a team composed of both to make
it happen.  Otherwise, we might as well sit and wait for a miracle.

As stated in the article, there is a great number of qualified
professionals among us abroad.  They are appreciated by a small group of
people, not significant enough to make the difference.  Diaspos are not
welcome simply because locals, in general, have no choice but to believe
in the "ote toi que je m'y mette" policy.  They believe they survived
the tough times under Duvalier, they don't want to allow diaspos to come
and take over.

Until everyone puts all of this behind and look forward to the real
issues, we will all continue to talk, but no action.  I only wish that
we would follow the track of Nelson Mandela.

I am in favor of democracy in Haiti, but we need a transition period.

The complexity of our problems can scare the bravest of us.

Max Blanchet wrote:

> >From the Haitian Times
> The Most Dangerous Haitians, Diaspora
> I'm a member of a dangerous and subversive group of
> Haitians. I'm a "Diaspora." We must be a threat to folks
> in Haiti because we are treated which such disdain by
> some of our brethren back home: most of all, by
> those who hold or seek power.
> I haven't heard so much condescension heaped on
> a group of people since I was a little boy in
> Port-au-Prince, listening to bourgeois and
> near-bourgeois Haitians exercising their scorn
> on "vye blan," the Creole equivalent of "white trash."
> The irony of this opprobrium on the Haitian
> Diaspora is that this same group plays a critical
> role in helping Haiti survive. According to international
> agencies, Haitians in America send
> $800 million back home to relatives each year.
> These funds (far larger than the national budget-when
> there is one) keep tens of thousands of families from
> starving, thousands of children clothed and in school,
> and hundreds of businesses thriving because of
> the buying power created by the imported funds. But
> there is another aspect to Diaspo life in America that
> makes some people back home uneasy. It is the
> success of so many who have left. We know about the
> middle-class professionals who fled the various Duvalier
> regimes. They had the easiest transition to jobs as
> doctors, lawyers, professors, and managers in this country.
> There is also the curious footnote of elite Haitian
> women who learned humility and hard work as caregivers
> and maids. But the far more important story is that of
> the poor Haitian immigrants who have leapt to
> middle class status in America through jobs in
> corporations, city government, hospitals and the
> universities. It is the tale of the many villagers and
> "moun mòn" from Gonaïves, Jérémie, Grande-Rivière
> and Anse-à-Veaux who worked as porters, and busboys
> and housemaids and delivery clerks and janitors and
> sweated in the toughest, meanest factories.
> Yet, in a single generation those from the very
> bottom of Haiti have accomplished in America what
> they dared not hope at home. They have significantly
> bettered their own lives and they have vastly elevated
> the opportunities for their children. People who planted
> corn or sugar cane, who worked in the homes of
> Port-au-Prince's well-to-do, who at best hoped they
> could send their children to school or find them a dubious
> opportunity working in a middle-class home as a
> "restavek," have been attending college graduations,
> buying homes in Elmhurst and East Orange, North Miami
> and Boston and building dream homes in Haiti.
> In a single generation, tens of thousands of
> Haitian-Americans (and that is what they are) have
> graduated from the best colleges and universities
> and begun to penetrate the inner circles of corporate
> America, as lawyers, engineers, administrators,
> investment bankers, artists and musicians. They have
> embraced an American lifestyle without losing their
> Haitian roots. They speak English fluently but Creole
> at home and English in Haitian gatherings. By discarding
> French, with its social weight and capacity to define and
> divide, they have consciously sought to minimize the
> effects of background and class among Haitians in
> America. It is this American experience that is the
> most dangerous to certain people back home.
> So many of us Diaspos have lived democracy in the last
> three decades. We are well aware of the flaws and the
> racism that still abounds in America, but we have also
> learned the merits of democratic process, of
> transparent civil procedures and of free-market economics.
> We have no illusions that America is a utopia, but we
> are proof that large numbers of Haitian immigrants -if
> not all -have benefited from this democratic
> and capitalist economic system. And this is where
> the "Diaspo" gets really subversive. Its members are
> starting to demand that Haiti embrace an economic
> and political system that will enable the majority of
> Haitians to thrive.
> After all, the "Diaspo" itself challenges so many
> negative stereotypes that Haitians hold about themselves
> and each other. It has shown that upward mobility is
> possible for even the poorest and most downtrodden,
> that even an illiterate Haitian family can produce a
> brilliant scholar or successful professional - given
> opportunities that do not exist at home. And members
> of the Diaspo refuse to accept the idea that Haiti
> cannot be governed under a democratic system.
> Those who resist these ideas say that Haitian-Americans
> no longer understand the reality of Haiti, that they've
> been away too long.
> It's true that some Haitian-Americans have gone back
> arrogantly thinking they can operate with disregard for
> their home country's culture and sensibilities. But their
> idealism is valuable at a time when so many cynical forces
> struggle for power in Haiti. There's no shame in being
> fools for democracy. We've lived what Winston Churchill
> once said: "Democracy is a horrible form of government.
> Everything else is worse." The next critical step for
> Diaspos is to begin to assert our right to participate in
> the dialogue about politics and economics back home. We
> can't be expected to just send money forever and keep
> our mouths shut. After all, Dominicans and French and
> Americans are allowed to vote from abroad. If we get
> serious about this, Diaspos might be barred from coming
> home at all.
> Joel Dreyfuss is a senior editor at Fortune Magazine and
> a regular contributor to The Haitian Times.
> The Haitian Times
> 32 Court, Street Suite 805, Brooklyn New York 11201 718-852-3900
> Send Questions and Comments to info@haitiantimes.com