With the IHRC, diaspora money doesn’t talk

(remittancesgateway.org)

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?

6 Responses to “With the IHRC, diaspora money doesn’t talk”

  1. What are the views and thoughts from this Diaspora community on the lack of access, inclusion, support, and cooperation of their family members back home in Haiti right now? Speaking as a community animator working in Haiti both before and now after the earthquakes, the levels of access and inclusion your brothers and sisters are experiencing should clench the fists to say the least. Mayors of Site Soley have been turned away at the UN Logistics base, Peasant farming leaders have been turned away from agricultural meetings due to not having NGO credentials. Are we going to see the Diaspora community organize, loby, protest, and advocate for actual Haitian civil society to have a vote on the IHRC? Because without them, this entire thing is a sick joke, a bastardization of democracy and worse yet, 21st century colonization.
    *** Peace and Solidarity***

    • Would you be interested in writing about the access issues to the Log base and agricultural meetings? I’m sure a lot of people in the diaspora have no idea what a “log base” is, for instance, and why it matters for governance and policy.

  2. Hi,

    I agree 100%. The Haitian Diaspora should and must have a voting seat on the IHRC. Why wouldn’t we? After all, we are playing a great part in helping Haiti recover one wired transfer at a time.

  3. I think that we, the Haitian diaspora, should make the dual nationality question our top priority, a priority equal to any politcal, moral or economic support that we want to give to Haitian politicians. We have to work to bing this issue to the front burner in the Haitian political agenda.

  4. Great post. The Haitian diaspora should have a vote!

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