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8893: Ouster causes Haitian discord (fwd)
Haitian Times - Editorial
The Troubles at HAFI
In the 1980s, community organizations in South Florida, particularly Miami, were run by a bunch of men who were vocal and always eager to take their complaints to the streets. This brand of activism was borne out, for the most part, with the intention or the hope that when a government that they support takes power in Haiti, they would return to the homeland and play an important role in shaping their country. In short, most of it was self-serving. So in 1994, after the return of Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power, the old guard left Miami and flocked to Haiti.
They were quickly humbled when they realized that few in Haiti cared or knew of them. Their enterprises failed for the most part. Those who held government jobs became ineffective and slowly migrated back to Miami. Such is the case of Ringo Cayard who recently orchestrated the ouster of Léonie Hermantin, the executive director of the Haitian American Foundation Inc. Cayard, started the organization in the 1980s and ran it into deep financial problems and Hermantin inherited a mismanaged organization three years ago, including more than $90,000 owed to the Internal Revenue Service.
She was beginning to turn it around when Cayard stepped back into the picture. To be sure, Hermantin made some mistakes. After all she is human. But by all accounts, she was doing a good job and in due time the organization was going to be financially solvent. To make matters worse, a board member says Hermantin's ouster is illegal. Cayard, the president of the organization and a board member, missed more than the required three consecutive meetings that a board member is allowed to miss before being kicked off the board. According to board sources, he is no longer a board member and has no authority.
If Cayard felt that the organization was running amuck, he should have ousted Jules Labossiere, HAFI's chairman of the board, who was well aware of the inner workings of the organization, particularly the ill-fated Creole Market. Hermantin is part of the new leadership that has emerged in South Florida in the past few years - well-educated, articulate and smart women who are taking the community to a new level. Unfortunately, they are being challenged by the old guards who refuse to yield the stage that they so dominated during the 1980s.
We urge HAFI's board to reconsider its decision and restore Hermantin to her post. The organization, already on shaky ground with the grant donor community, will be destroyed. If Cayard truly cares for the organization that he founded, he should step aside quickly. If his intentions were to get Hermantin's attention, he has done so. Now it's time for him to let a competent person lead the organization to its full potential.