Annually, Haitians abroad remit more than twice the amount pledged by the seven countries sitting on the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC)–yet these seven can vote; the diaspora representative can not.
Brazil, Canada, Spain, France, Norway, the USA and Venezuela pledged at least $100 million/year for two years in order to gain membership to the decision-making body tasked with implementing Haiti’s reconstruction over the next two years.
Annually, the Haitian diaspora sends home between US $1.5-$1.8 billion in official flows, about one-third of Haiti’s GDP. This billion-dollar figure excludes the total cost of goods shipped home, annually, by barrels and boxes (a bang-up business in immigrant communities in New York City, Miami and Boston), as well as cash transfers that were not wired nor declared upon entering the country.
The Haitian Diaspora Federation, the newly-created body which selected the representative and accepted the non-voting diaspora seat wrote in a late June press release:
We thank President Preval, Prime Minister Bellerive, President Clinton, Counselor Cheryl Mills and the International Community for recognizing the Haitian Diaspora’s contributions to Haiti and their effort to fully engage its resources in the reconstruction’s process.
Yet elsewhere on its Web site, the HDF writes:
Regretfully, the diaspora involvement has, so far, been limited only to meetings and ceremonious participation. For example, this Diaspora with all of its talents, cultural competencies, and economic capacity and support to Haiti, has only been offered just a non-voting seat at the newly formed Haiti Interim Commission.
If my reporting plate weren’t already full I’d follow up on the 2+2=5 math, above. If money talks and all else, i.e. talents and cultural competencies, walks, why doesn’t the diaspora’s money earn it a voting seat on the IHRC? Why doesn’t $1.8 billion put the diaspora in a position to demand–not be offered–a voting seat on the IHRC? If the diaspora rep can’t vote, who will demand that competent diaspora Haitians be considered first, ahead of foreigners, for reconstruction jobs and business opportunities in Haiti?