News / Americas

Haitians in US Could be Key in Rebuilding Their Homeland

Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 15 Jan 2010, after a magnitude 7 earthquake hit the country on 12 Jan 2010
Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 15 Jan 2010, after a magnitude 7 earthquake hit the country on 12 Jan 2010

Many Haitians living in the United States, Canada, Europe and elsewhere are deeply involved in the recovery effort from the January 12 earthquake. But some analysts say this disaster may have provided an opportunity for them to take an even bigger role in the long-term rebuilding of their homeland, once conditions are stabilized by international relief teams.

Forty minutes before the earthquake struck, Houston financial planner Surpris Cherazard arrived in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince with a team of people from Texas, planning to work at local orphanages and hospitals.

By the time they arrived at one of the hospitals, Cherazard says they were faced with an overwhelming tragedy. "I was in the hospital and we were all helpless to see people who were asking for aspirin - people with their legs cut off, they are asking for a pain pill; people who have part of their intestine out and they are asking you for help," Cherazard said.

The Haitian government was plunged into disarray, most of the capital's buildings were destroyed and victims were left to fend for themselves.

Cherazard, who left Haiti for the United States 30 years ago, is sad to see his country once again in the news because of its misery.  He says most people know little about positive aspects of Haiti's history. "Yes, we have a history of being a poor country.  But at the same time, people have to remember that in the 1700s, during the French colonization, Haiti was the richest colony in the world," he said.

Rice University political scientist Mark Jones, an expert on Latin America and the Caribbean, says Haiti will never become a prosperous nation unless it can break free of the poor governance, corruption and poverty that have taken hold there during the past century.

He says the earthquake could provide an opportunity for the international community to go beyond relief efforts and to lay the foundation for an effective government. "I think the real trick and the real difficulty is going to come one year from now, nine months from now, when you have essentially recovered from the disaster, at least the short-term recovery.  And you really have to get down to how we are going to rebuild Haiti or at least restructure, provide a new foundation for Haitian governance, such that we do not have these kinds of disasters repeating themselves over and over again," he said.

Jones says the United States needs to play a key role in Haiti, despite criticism from Europe and elsewhere about alleged American domination of relief efforts.  But, he says, it would be better for another country to lead the long-term rebuilding of Haiti's governmental infrastructure.  Jones says Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva might be an ideal person to lead such a project after he leaves office at the end of this year.

Jones says that an indispensable part of any long-term effort to rebuild Haiti is the participation of thousands of Haitians living abroad.  He says they might be willing to return in large numbers if there is an internationally-supported security structure in place.

"Many have learned how democracy works in the United States, in Quebec, in France.  And so they have all the talents and they have the ability to return.  But you need to set up the conditions such that they feel it is safe for them to return and that, by returning, they are going to actually be able to make a productive contribution and, essentially, their voice is going to be heard.  They are not going to go back and then suffer violence, suffer threats from the current Haitian elite," he said.

Houston resident Surpris Cherazard says he is ready to do whatever is necessary to help his stricken homeland in the short- and long-term.  He agrees with Jones that the education and experience of people in what he calls the Haitian diaspora could play a major role in creating a brighter future for the country. "The cream of the country is out of the country.  So I hope that the Haitians who are out of the country will get together with the international community and see how we can rebuild the country," he said.

There are about two million Haitians living outside of Haiti.  Nearly 500,000 call the United States home.  Most others live in Canada and France as well as in other Caribbean nations and Latin America.

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

New Brazil Poll Shows Silva Beating Rousseff in Runoff

Outcome seemed unimaginable just a few weeks ago; would put an end to 12 years of Workers' Party rule
More

Argentina Desires Deal Grouping All Holdout Investors Together

A deal is now not seen likely before next year's October presidential election, in which Fernandez cannot run
More

Hurricane Cristobal Kills Four, Moves Toward Bermuda

Storm is not expected to threaten US, but could cause deadly surf and rip currents from Florida to North Carolina
More

Peru's Congress Narrowly OKs Humala's New Cabinet on 3rd Vote

Lawmakers ratify president's embattled cabinet after ruling party offers to suspend rule requiring independent workers to pay into a pension program
More

Brazil's Deadly Prison Riot Ends

Officials say two inmates were beheaded during the Cascavel riot; two others were thrown to their deaths from the roof, and police are investigating how a fifth inmate died
More

Amid Slowdown, Chileans Adjust to New Economic Reality

Most economists now predict overall growth in country's economy of between 2.0 and 2.5 percent this year, down from 4.1 percent in 2013
More