If you’ve been following political news in Haiti, you know that President Martelly has been accused of not being Haitian and holding an American (and possibly Italian) passport. The WHOLE country has shifted its focus from important things like getting ourselves out of poverty to investigate whether Martelly is a “foreigner”. I have ranted about this on Twitter, so those who follow me there have heard this from me already. Moise Jean Charles is the main senator involved in the “let’s find all the non-Haitians in our government” crusade aimed at President Martelly. Now Jean Charles along with several members of the parliament are using the constitution as an excuse for this witch hunt, Haiti does not yet recognize dual citizenship. I am not sure what their intention is and I’m not sure I care. They could actually want to start reinforcing the constitution by starting with sniffing out the “foreigners” or law breakers in the government. But here is the problem, by calling Haitians who were born and raised in Haiti, and who may have (or not) a foreign passport or lived abroad, “etranger” (foreigners) Moise Jean Charles is in turn calling all Haitians in the diaspora non-Haitians, thus unwanted. Every time Moise Jean Charles is interviewed, he sounds extremely worried that an “etranger” (foreigner) is running the country. Yet, Martelly was born and raised in Haiti, has traveled as a musician, has lived abroad and in Haiti before becoming president. What makes him an “etranger”? The fact that he allegedly holds a foreign passport. Now let’s think about the MILLIONS of Haitian people living around the world, many who have had to naturalize in order to facilitate their lives abroad. If these Haitians decide to return (like I did) or participate from afar, are they also “foreigners”? Do they have less say? These people who love Haiti, who have had to leave the country for socio-economic reasons, are they not Haitian enough? I hope you’re getting my point here, I have no problem with Moise Jean Charles verifying if Martelly and others are breaking the law but I DO have a problem with him calling Martelly a foreigner because I am sure that many of Jean Charles’ family members are within this status.
This whole dual citizenship debacle is another example of the persecution of the diaspora within Haiti. First of all, Haiti should have allowed dual citizenship a LONG time ago given the amount of people who have fled and the brain drain that we are still experiencing. Allowing dual citizenship proves to the diaspora that they are wanted and they are not forgotten about. Although, I do believe that a Haitian president (and most high ranking posts) should not hold dual citizenship or have ever renounced their Haitian citizenship but within the lower chambers, why not? My theory is that many people benefit from keeping the diaspora out of Haitians affairs because it would add a different perspective and a different way of getting things done to the system, this wouldn’t benefit the people milking the current crumbling system. Who wants more big fish in the dirty pond?
My point is Moise Jean Charles needs to be careful about how he speaks of the president’s status because I honestly believe that he does not realize that his statements affect the diaspora and what people think of the diaspora. He is more focused on attacking the president, which is his prerogative, but he should not alienate the diaspora by calling a Haitian holding an American passport a “foreigner”. After all, these “foreigners” are the ones keeping the Haitian economy afloat (Calculations for total annual remittances place the figure in a range of $1.5 to $1.9 billion, or between 23 and 30 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2010)
PS. I hope I got my point across, my post isn’t too organized. I was thinking about this whole thing this morning again and thought I should write a post on it. I want to expand on this and do a full on well-thought article with citations and all that good stuff.