1. How to integrate the Haitian Diaspora economic and political power to bring about change in Haiti?
1.1. Today, the Haitian Diaspora contributes approximately 2.7 Billions US dollars to the Haitian economy per year which translates into 3,7 Millions US dollars per day. This amount is compared as one third (⅓) of the gross domestic product (GDP). The Haitian government taxes the remittance at $1.50 per transfer and 0.05 cent per phone call to support education. from Jul. 28, 2011 to Sep. 12, 2018, there were just over 80 million transfers generating $120.13 Millions US dollars so far as per a report by the National Bank of Haiti. The Diaspora also contributes by investing in different sectors of the economy of the country (hotels, agriculture…). Further, Haitians living abroad make for the majority of people or tourists who visit the country each year. To leverage our economic power to get political power, the Haitian Diaspora may need to demand, through legal action or other means, a suspension of such taxation and an injunction against any further use of the funds collected until the Haitians of the Diaspora are consulted through its organizations to determine the best and highest use of such funds
1.2. Once fully integrated, the Haitians living abroad will have a sense of belonging to the country. Particularly, that sense of belonging would stimulate them to invest in many other areas, provided the country becomes politically stable;
1.3. Now the Haitians living in the diaspora have voting right. We demand the authorization via the electoral decree/law and the budgetary allocation of the means to be able to exercise such a fundamental right at the Embassies and the Consulates or authorized locations where we live. Once we can exercise the vote through the Embassies and the Consulates, we will have the power to change the political equilibrium.
2. Will United Front publish its proposed submitted revision to the Constitutional Commission in view of the Commission’s report to Parliament?
2.1. The Constitutional commission’s report to the Parliament is in coherence with the United front’s submission. Please visit our website, www.haitianunitedfront.org for more information and to download a copy of the Proposition of Amendments.
3. Does United Front have a committee that will follow process to lobby and ensure that the propositions come to fruition?
3.1. Yes, our Legislative Committee is taking lead in this process; however, we need additional bodies and support in order to accomplish this objective. Therefore, your collaboration would be greatly appreciated. Please join us by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. How do we ensure that we create a pool of better leaders for the Haitian Electorate to select from? Should there be a minimal education stipulated in the constitution for a citizen to serve in elected offices? Should there be minimal education?
4.1. Among the criteria required by the Constitution, an equivalent of a college education should be included. But, it is not. The Haitian constitution states a series of enforceable criteria/requirements for a candidate to meet in order to qualify to become a candidate for certain positions such as:
● A police report of “bonne vie et moeurs” clearance;
● A discharge report from the Cour Supérieur des Comptes”if the candidate previously involved in management of public affairs involving funds;
● background check/clearance from the judiciary/the police and
● disclosure of tax payment history and current assets in Haiti upon submission of paperwork which one can do retroactively;
● Certain number of years of residence in the jurisdiction in which the candidates seeks to be elected;
● Other: ……….
4.2. Yes, in the Electoral law, not in the constitution, coupled with intensive and successful management experience over a period of 5 years minimum, in relevant domains such as: Economy, business, education, legislation, law, management, etc.
5. Who is involved in the movement to change the constitution in the Diaspora? Do they represent the interest of the Diaspora or their own interest? Do Haitians in Haiti want us?
5.1. Our Constitution of 1987 was adopted after the fall of Jean-Claude Duvalier by Haitians who held themselves out to be progressives. In spite of the fact the Duvalier regime had caused the population flight through expulsion, terror and other forms of persecution of Haitians resulting in the growth of the Diaspora. But, the those so-called progressives took away the citizenship/nationality of the most victimized sector of the Haitian population who fled for their lives. In 2005 several Haitian activists analized and concluded that the most significant factor to the severe decline of the Haiti, is the severe loss of its human resources to nations outside of Haiti. These Haitian activists formed the Haitian Congress to Fortify Haiti and adopted a mission to”...Mobilize Haitians in the Diaspora, our children, our friends and allies to help Haiti develop.” This group waged a lobbying and education campaign from 2006-2012 to convince the 48th and the 49th legislatures to vote and amend the Haitian Constitution of 1987 to remove the constitutional articles that took away the rights of Haitians in the Diaspora to their Haitian citizenship/nationality with article 11 which states that:
“ Any person born of a Haitian father or Haitian mother who are themselves native-born Haitians and have never renounced their nationality possesses Haitian nationality at the time of birth.”
Thereafter, the Haitian Congress banded together with other organizations in the diaspora into the United Front of the Haitian Diaspora to push for further amendments to integrate the vast human resources of Haitians in the diaspora to reintegrate into Haiti to help Haiti develop;
5.2. This is not a personal matter. This movement takes aim at the best interest of Haiti and the entire diaspora;
5.3. We shouldn’t worry about whether Haitians in Haiti want us or not. We are Haitians. The essential is to educate them while putting up the fight. For the betterment of Haiti, both Haitians in the diaspora and those living in Haiti need to work together.
6. *Who is the Diaspora? There seems to be a lack of “certain people” in the discussion--Does the United Front represent everyone in the diaspora?
6.1. According to a dictionary definition, A diaspora is a large group of people with a similar heritage or homeland who have since moved out to places all over the world. Haitians scattered throughout the world meet that definition. The diaspora is composed of all Haitian migrants, naturalized or not, throughout the world;
6.2. The United Front is REPRESENTATIVE. However, it does not pretend to represent everyone in the diaspora. No group can do that. The United Front includes members from various states in the United States, France, Canada, the caribbean, Dominican Republic and other places. That is why we incessantly invite all living forces in the diaspora to join the cause so we could become a more powerful force to speak with one voice.
7. When it comes to external voting, how can we minimize or avoid corruption?
7.1. We can minimize or avoid corruption by strictly following the electoral laws of Haiti under the supervision of trained Haitian representatives in collaboration with the assistance of partners from our host countries such as the United States, Canada, France and the United Nations. The specifics of the process are not yet completely determined. However, some of the ideas include convening credible Diaspora Electoral Councils/committees (DEC) key locations (cities) where there exist diplomatic representations (consulate, embassies). Such DEC (size to be determined) would include:
a). members of the churches/clergy;
b). representatives of the media;
c). representatives of 2-3 credible organizations (advocacy or services);
d). establish some professionals and a representative of the consulate/embassies.
This council would help select key sites (organizations, businesses), solicit volunteers to monitor voting operations, help count ballots, checking on resources (equipment, finances) for transparency etc.
8. What are the milestones and obstacles that UF has identified when it comes to the effort to amend the constitution?
8.1. Although the United Front has reached many milestones: A 6-year campaign resulting in the Amendment to the 1987 constitution in July 2012 (see: www.haitiancongresspac.org); Submission of its Proposed Amendments (65 Articles) to the Constitutional Commission (see www.haitianunitdfront.org); Publication of a new framework for voting externally in the diaspora; the tacit acceptance of the Haitian government that the Diaspora should vote in presidential election resulting from years of lobbying; the consolidation of the activists of the Diaspora that we must vote; The continuing lobby of the Haitian authorities to provide budgetary support for the Diaspora to vote.
8.2. The immediate focus of the work is that the United Front plans to launch a whole new campaign to garner support to convince the Deputies and Senators to vote in favor of a constitutional amendment which would fully integrate all Haitians. This effort is not easy. It requires time, knowledge, determination, money, Human Resources, etc. We need your assistance. Your help and expertise would be welcome. Please, join us.
9. Who are UF permanent partners in Haiti to help advocate for the changes that UF wants to bring about in the Constitution and to allow external vote?
● Current members of the UF on the ground in Haiti, who used to live in the Diaspora and who have legal/constitutional or advocacy background. They already closely work with the United Front;
● Legislators who collaborated in the past with the UF;
● The Ministry of Haitians Living Abroad;
● Some members of Civil Society;
10. Does UF have the funds necessary to do media campaign to galvanize other Haitians to take action to support this movement?
10.1. No, not currently:
■ Significant awareness efforts will be required at the media level (regular media and social media) to promote additional fundraising efforts - asking the diaspora to contribute ; such efforts should start as early as first two months on 2019
■ Find strong diaspora partner organizations with local or national scope (NAAHP, HAU, FANM, Haitian Congress) willing to promote bullet 2 and 3 to their members;
■ The members of the United Front have made in-kind contribution of their time, financial contribution from their own funds;
■ Go-Fund Me is another initiative that the United Front launched in 2015 to support the Diaspora observation of the last Presidential election raising $15,000.00;
■ Organizational dues;
11. Does the Diaspora have standing to sue the Haitian Government based on the taxes paid ($1.50 to transfers or 0.05 for phone calls) to haul the government to court to force them to give accounting on monies collected under these programs?
11.1. Yes, it is our belief that the Haitian Diaspora does have standing to sue not only the Haitian Government, but also the agencies that participate in collecting the Transfer taxes such as Western Union, CAM, or any others who participate in this continuing act. We would need to not only demand an accounting, through legal action or other means, a suspension of such taxation and an injunction against any further use of the funds collected until the Haitians of the Diaspora are consulted through its organizations to determine the best and highest use of such funds.
12. How can we create a fund to do infrastructure projects?
12.1. Not currently the UF scope of work. We believe that the diaspora should support and advocate for such projects, but we may not have the expertise or logistical capacity to take them on.