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Tuesday, July 18, 2006 

Haitian Diaspora Reconnection Forum:

Expectations and prospects

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

by Vario Serant
Caribbean Net News Haiti Correspondent

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti: While meeting in Paris with President Rene Garcia Préval, the French leader Jacques Chirac revealed plans to begin a co-development program in Haiti.

Haitians learned of the plans on July 12 at the Diaspora Reconnection Forum in Port-au-Prince. At this time, the French ambassador in Haiti described the concept of co-development as a method of showing how training efforts can enhance the capacity of migrants to contribute towards developing their native country.

Several foreign diplomats who participated in the two day forum, including US ambassador Janet A. Sanderson, congratulated the Diaspora for continued progress in developing the country. She also encouraged greater visibility of the Diaspora, which constitutes a positive and critical force in favour of progress in Haiti.

Showing support, the Canadian ambassador said, "At the time where Haiti must face new challenges, the Diaspora has perhaps a responsibility more considerable than others."

Claude Boucher emphasized, "People of the Diaspora undoubtedly have better living conditions and access to more resources than those of the fellow-citizens of the country."

Approximately three hundred delegates from the United States, Canada and France gathered for the Diaspora Connection Forum along with select representatives from other nations.

Participants urged authorities to clarify ambiguity within the Haitian Constitution regarding dual nationality. The businessman Samir Mourra was especially interested in this topic, as the former presidential candidate was ousted due to his American nationality.

In accordance with the recommendations of the Diaspora's representatives, the Minister for Haitians living abroad announced the impending creation of a commission focused on dual nationality.

Jean Généus advised the commission to circumvent the current constitutional obstacles to achieve its goal within a faster time frame.

According to article 284-2 of the Constitution, an amendment obtained by a legislature "can come into effect only after the installation of the next elected president".

The same article stipulates that "the president under the government of which the amendment took place cannot profit from the advantages which result from this".

In addition to the commission on dual nationality, the Minister for Haitians living abroad announced development of an investment forum to assist with effective integration as a provision within the framework for Diaspora members.

The Haitian Diaspora, predominantly in North America, is estimated at more than one million people. Money transfers between Haitians in the U.S. and loved ones in Haiti exceed one billion U.S. dollars annually.

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