Garaudy Laguerre’s Opening Remarks at NAAHP Conference on the Diaspora
- THE HAITIAN DIASPORA A POWERFUL, BUT STAGNATE ENGINE
1 – I would say the Diaspora is definitely a POTENTIALLY POWERFUL contributing engine, for HAITI.
Yes, however, within a NATIONAL VISION and PLAN, for the economic, social and cultural development of the country and its people.
A– To implement such a VISION and PLAN, the role of the State, in my opinion, is paramount, in PRIORITIZING HAITIAN NATIONAL INTERESTS and the well-being of the POPULATION.
For, our Diaspora, the way it is treated, it’s safety and success is measured in part by, and is a reflexion of, the way we project ourselves on the world stage, our reality and that of the countries welcoming us.
Those priorities of national interest should be :
- Reclaiming our SOVEREIGNTY (self-determination, out of chapter 7, control of available natural resources.)
- Having a standing ARMY – for defence of our territory -.
- Self-SUFFICIENCY – particularly food Security and Education.
- Important corollaries, the use of our mother tongue to educate our youth.
- But also, I believe, religious credibility.
- We cannot continue to practise the religion of others, as a race and a nation, and expect them to take us seriously.
See, I believe, you can never beat the enemy, while raising its flag !
B– Only through such a vision and plan could we achieve :
- A better national political and economic environment, thus ending the brain drain, which is a direct result of the lack of opportunities inside the country, causing the exodus of qualified and trainable middle management. It is reported that over 80% of Haitian university graduates/professionals, live outside of Haiti. That is a debilitating percentage, for future economic development objectives.
- Such a vision and plan could make Haiti a better and respected place to call home, to retreat to; it could empower and encourage Haitians, through guaranteed and publicized incentives, to invest home and help create new opportunities and try new initiatives, while empowering women and youth.
- Only policies that create employment and bring better economic and social conditions for the masses will reduce poverty.
- When our productive forces stall, unemployment and poverty are rampant, Government is corrupt; the country and its economy become stagnant and it cries out, it cries out through the masses, the most impoverished ! so, let’s not make them out to be the violent ones and aggressors, just yet! I believe, better conditions for the masses will strengthen the rule of law, thus creating a safer and more secure economic environment, for your savings, investments and open the door to implement bold ideas.
- And finally, we are talking about your families and loved ones left behind; they too need to feel secure, protected and be provided for.
2 – Now, to realize this, the diaspora, particularly in the U.S., could play an important political, social and economic role.
- By expanding and consolidating your power base here, and your capacity to influence policy, not only as immigrants or Haitian Americans, but as future mayors, governors or members of congress.
- But also, by linking up and networking, with progressive political and economic forces inside of Haiti that welcome new ideas, a different political and economic culture, forces that do not see the diaspora as a threat, but embrace it!
- On the other hand, we need to steer away from the belief that the Diaspora is a monolithic bloc of good, well-intentioned, enlightened people.
This is not true for Haiti, nor is it true for any other country.
A– While there are a lot of good people in the diaspora, and we all love and want to see a better Haiti, we also need to recognize that the diaspora is diverse, people with different aspirations, demands and needs, depending on location, economic reality and social status. (Dominican Republic, Bahamas, France, Canada U.S.A.) etc.
B– On that basis, we cannot model government nor the economic development of a country around the needs and aspirations of the diaspora or part of it, nor could we expect that the diaspora would be the primary and determining factor for the economic development and modernization of the country. But, an important role, it could and must play !
- The reality is, most people and groups, in and outside of Haiti, especially those in the business sectors, are just looking for opportunities, business, political and otherwise. That is not necessarily a bad thing, it actually should be encouraged, but it needs to be fairly regulated, by a progressive, visionary and patriotic government.
- Some of the biggest, recent influencers of the Haitian political and economic scene have stayed or came from the diaspora :
- Yvon Neptune, Gerard Latortue, Laurent Lamothe, Michel Martely, to mention a few.
- No need to say these names do not represent the best of us! But they do exist !
I am not saying that it is better to have mediocre and irresponsible leaders inside the country, ruining the country !
What I am saying, my friends and compatriots, the reality is this: bad leadership, vision and plan attract bad people; but, good and thoughtful leadership, vision and plan, will attract good and progressive people, like some of you, I hope !
We need to build a country, with good government, vision and leadership.
Until we do that, in a country where minimum wage is 500.00 Gdes a day, the employment rate over 50%, while the World Bank fixed extreme poverty levels at $1,90 a day, as business people and entrepreneurs, we can all take our chances individually, we could fail or succeed. But we do so, at our own risks! And it will be exactly that: taking chances, chances that are far from and beyond the inherent risks of investing.
We need to collectively help build, good, honest, courageous, somewhat sophisticated, but visionary government!
There lies our fight, there also, lies our freedom !- The challenge we face today, my friends, is to come together, as a force, to establish yourselves here first and foremost and help build, in Haiti, the Haitian state and government that we need and deserve, for the well-being of all Haitians, particularly those living in Haiti !
I admit it’s a challenge! but, it’s a challenge we face together, and with the right vision and leadership, I believe, it is a challenge that we can win !
- Thank you, for your time !
- Garaudy Laguerre.
special welcome as Guest