News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Mar. 22, 2019: Haitians in the U.S. Diaspora are weighing in on the ongoing strife in their homeland even as the country’s Parliament on Monday triggered another crisis by voting to oust the prime minister after only six months on the job.
The vote comes on the heels of weeks of renewed protests in the French Caribbean island nation over the alleged misuse of funds from the PetroCaribe agreement with Venezuela. Protests were so violent that several nations, including the US and Canada, issued ‘do not travel’ warnings while several were killed.
Billyne Francois, a South Florida-based, 23-year-old Haitian-American CEO, poet and on-air radio host, feels the root of the problem in Haiti lies in a lack of real leadership.
She also feels strongly that there needs to be more investment in the nation of Haiti and the laying of a stronger foundation for Haitians to build on.
“Haiti needs to get rid of foreign influences,” Francois, who is unafraid to use her platform to address important issues around the country, told News Americas. “Haiti has a lot of economic greatness, but no one ever sees it. Most of the crime is in the capital, and the government is corrupt…the inflation is hurting the economy and is causing a depression in Haiti.”
Semline Delva, 25, a Haitian-American program coordinator of Leadership and Civic Engagement at Kennesaw State University, agrees somewhat but feels the key is education.
If the Haitian government provides access to free, quality education to those who want to learn, this will give the people the leadership skills and experience needed to have leaders who can initiate positive change to improve the overall infrastructure of Haiti, Delva told News Americas.
“When people protest, they are looking for a space to be heard,” she added. “People are tired of broken promises, they are tired of the turmoil…and they are asking: ‘can the government help me?’”
She agrees with Francois that Haiti also needs to hire its own talent. “Haiti needs to buy back their resources, and … hire people from Haiti, instead of relying on other resources,” Delva said.
Mira Leon, a 20-year-old recent college graduate from Florida Atlantic University, who was raised in Haiti before moving to the U.S., feels personally connected to what is occurring in her home country.
She feels that Haitians in Haiti are suffering and because they feel like they are not being heard or cared for and continue to retaliate the only way they know how – taking to the streets in protest.
“We suffer as a people, but all the stuff happening makes it seem as if we’re complacent and not focused on our liberation,” Leon stated. We have terrible infrastructure, but there’s no hesitation to riot and destroy buildings that we ultimately have to clean up. As a country we face corruption like everyone else, but there’s a way to do things…we cannot move forward if we play an active role in holding ourselves back.”
But as the Diaspora watches in frustration, Haiti, a country of almost 11 million continues to spiral between constant leadership changes, protests, natural disasters and ongoing allegations of corruption in leadership. And despite having a viable tourist industry and with millions in aid and remittance pouring in annually, Haiti remains one of the world’s poorest countries and the poorest in the Americas region, with a GDP per capita at PPP US$1,200, a debt burden of 2.762 billion and with rising poverty, poor infrastructure, lack of health care and lack of education.
So what’s the solution? Perhaps as Francois states, it lies with the Haitian people who already have the kind of mindset in place that will help them achieve success. All that is missing now is someone in a position of leadership who knows how to invest in the nation of Haiti, lay a strong foundation and then build off of it.