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Haiti PM says Haitian Diaspora deserves greater political role in homeland
Published on June 10, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Joseph Guyler Delva

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (HCNN) -- Haiti's Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe recognized over the weekend that Haitians living abroad should be allowed to play a greater role in influencing political, social and economic developments in Haiti, as authorities seek to reverse the brain-drain for the benefit of the Caribbean country.

Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe
Lamothe, who has been advocating for members of the Diaspora's right to vote in the next elections, underlined the crucial contribution Haitians living abroad bring to the country's economy, but he voiced support for the lifting of a series of legal or administrative constraints and restrictions which have prevented Haitian expatriates from exercising a greater political role in their homeland.

"Haitians living in the Diaspora contribute for about $2 billion per year to our economy and this is very significant, and I know many Haitians value this," Lamothe told the Haitian-Caribbean News Network (HCNN).

"But we cannot act as if their money was welcome, but not their knowledge, their expertise and their will and their right to be significantly involved with the political life in their country," explained Lamothe.

The Haitian prime minister said his government is aware of the role Haitians living abroad should play in the development of the country, given their competence, their expertise and knowhow which are now at the service of foreign governments.

"We have a great role for you in the Diaspora because this is where our drained brain is and we should find a way to recover it," Lamothe stated. "Some 8.5 of every 10 Haitian brains are in the Diaspora, he said.

Lamothe urged different relevant entities to do all they can to issue proper documents to members of the Haitian Diaspora and set up the necessary structure at Haitian embassies, for instance, to allow Haitian migrants to exercise their right to vote.

"For example we need to do all we can to make sure Haitians in the Diaspora can vote in the next elections or others to come," said Lamothe, explaining that his government will do all that depends on it in that regard.

Haitians living in foreign countries, even those who never acquired a foreign passport, have not been allowed to vote from their host countries to elect Haitian leaders and officials at different levels. Haitians who also held a foreign passport could not run for any public offices in the country, because of their double citizenship.

The recently amended Haitian constitution now provides that Haitians who have obtained a foreign or several other nationalities remain Haitian and may run for some secondary-level elected offices and may now be appointed as government cabinet members, provided they resolve to surrender the foreign passport for the time they will be in office.

However, Haitians with dual nationality are banned from running for legislative seats or for the country's presidency. They are also barred from becoming prime minister, according to the current constitution.

Lamothe also announced a series of town-hall meetings in several Haitian Diaspora communities, such as little Haiti, in Miami, where a meeting with community members, is scheduled for later this month, to discuss current developments in Haiti and how their concerns may be better addressed.
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