Our Collective Strength
Haitian-Americans living in the United States work, vote, and pay taxes as residents and citizens, yet very few of our issues are addressed by leaders in communities where we live. We are working to create an environment that allows eligible Haitian-American voters to actively participate in local, state, and national elections.
HALEC realizes the power of Haitian American voters and want us to exercise that power in order to produce change and improve conditions for all Haitian-Americans.
Haitian diaspora handsomely contribute to Haiti's economy sending back about $1 Billion annually.
"This Haitian diaspora may be the greatest hope for Haiti's future. These men and women have the skills and perspective required to rebuild their homeland, and they have an understanding of the fundamentals of democracy that can only come from living under a democratic system. Their participation will determine how readily Haiti emerges from the devastation of its past. For that reason, the US policy in Haiti should reflect the input of this group, rather than the ambitions and agendas of political factions in our own country" continued the Washington Post article. Indeed, the Haitian diaspora faces a task of historical proportion. Though the task is gigantesque but, by nurturing a symbiotic relationship with the alma mater the burden would be ameliorated. The predicament, however, is that this Haitian diaspora is made up of disparate groups of people largely unorganized; thus unable to wield its power.
to accomplish the task. We just have to foster an environment of collaboration, do away with our big ego in the interest of the community and get to work. We have to rise up to the occasion and with determination accomplish what we set out to do, because if we don't, no one can nor will do it for us; for we alone know what our needs are. We would just be left behind and be trampled upon as before. No one can do for you that which you cannot do for yourself. In the words of John F.Kennedy: "ask not what your country (community) can do for you but ask what you can do for your country (community)."Haitians are scattered throughout the United States with higher concentration along the eastern seaboard. Florida and New York are home to the most densely populated Haitian communities. In regions like Spring Valley, NY Haitians constitute a majority. Yet, the helm of government remains elusive not within our reach. This is partly due to our passive attitude, our fear of the system, a hostile environment and lack of information among others. Hence, there is an urgent need for Haitians to get involved in the process and become masters of their own destiny. We have the necessary resources and wherewithal
In this context, we answer to the call by founding Haitian-American Leadership Council (HALEC). It is a newly formed, non-partisan, non-profit organization that is registered in six states: Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Florida. The basic tenet upon which HALEC was founded is the following ."A strong Haitian diaspora for a more prosperous and democratic Haiti." If we are able to organize ourselves in the diaspora, we would become strong both politically and economically. We would be better able to defend our interests in the US for example thereby projecting a more positive image about our community. This in turn would directly and indirectly have a positive ripple effect upon Haiti. If we are to be effective in helping Haiti, we need to start in the diaspora right where we live. This is by no means a revolutionary idea. The Jewish diaspora perfected it and the Cuban Americans follow suit.
In an era of globalization when major decisions affecting least developed countries'
governance are more and more made outside and away from their circle of influence, it maybe advantageous if not a blessing for a country to have a strong diaspora. In that sense, Haiti is once again at the forefront, the envy of many Caribbean countries because of its diaspora: the largest.
Haitians are very successful individually, however that does not translate into a more opulent community. The true measure of one's success is directly related to how one's community is perceived by the world at large. It's just a matter of statistics. HALEC wants to charter a new course introducing a new paradigm in the market place of Haitian political ideas. It represents a genuine effort at erecting a Haitian organization with a national scope and structure. Its objectives are to integrate the Haitian-American community into the democratic process, promote civic betterment, expand and defend the legal rights of all Haitians, unify the political voice of all Haitian-Americans under a collective leadership, enroll and register eligible Haitian-American from MA to FL to participate in elections at the local, state and Federal levels, encourage eligible Haitians to obtain their citizenship and finally to assist new arrivals in immigration matters. HALEC will endeavor to empower the Haitian community by embracing a cultural metamorphosis dislodging those long held beliefs and customs that only perpetuate our material poverty. After all, we have been at this for the past 200 years. We all know the same cause produces the same effects given the same conditions. We can't expect different results if we keep doing the same old thing. It's time for a change.
This labor of love is a team effort, a vision that is bigger and greater than any one person, therefore, requiring the full participation of everyone in order to attain its goals and be a success. We want to form partnerships with existing organizations that are like-minded, be they Haitian or otherwise. For example, we have established a strong working relationship with the NAACP, the leader and oldest civil rights organization in the nation.
It is said: "a journey of a thousand miles begin with the first step." Along the way we shall be joined by decent people of good conscience who will contribute to the struggle to the end of the journey. Let us join hands in order to make this dream a reality; for in unity there is strength. We cannot change the world, but we can change ourselves and our world will never be the same again. And, if any two of us are in accord in making this dream a reality, indeed it shall come to being.
Emmanuel Coffy, MSEE, JD
Chairperson of HALEC
December 11, 2005