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

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf 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.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Guatemala's Ex-President Goes to Court After Night Behind Bars

Perez Molina's jailing followed historic day in which he resigned and country's Congress swore in VP Alejandro Maldonado to serve remainder of his term
More

Puerto Rican Voters Prized by Democrats, Republicans

Five million Puerto Ricans live on US mainland, including nearly 1 million in key swing state of Florida, and they care about what happens back on the island
More

Russia, Venezuela Seek to Combat Oil Price Woes

The price of oil has roughly halved since last year due to oversupply and a decision by the OPEC cartel not to cut production
More

Brazil Denies Rumors Finance Minister Will Quit

Government dismisses market rumors Joaquim Levy quitting because of disagreements over his austerity plan
More

Guatemalan President Resigns Over Corruption Scandal

Judge orders Otto Perez Molina to remain in detention while decision on whether he'll stand trial is pending
More

Video US Men's Soccer Team Eyeing Matches Against Peru, Brazil

Team hoping to bounce back from a disappointing result in Gold Cup, when Jamaica upset US 2-1 in semifinals
More