Haiti’s 49th Legislature Votes in Favor of Dual Citizenship

Posted By: Haitian Congress Administrator on Tuesday 23 2009
The Haitian Congress has been advocating for Dual Citizenship throughout Haiti and in the Diaspora since 2004. After begining their first regular session as a National Assembly Monday, May 2, 2011, members of Haiti's 49th Legislature will soon vote on constitutional amendments to the 1987 constitution proposed by the 48th Legislature, which include proposed amendments granting Dual Citizenship to Haitians and their children. A delegation from the Haitian Congress has been in Haiti since April 14, 2011 where we participated in Journée Nationale de la Diaspora and intisified our media campaign to encourage members of the 49th Legislature to vote in favor of dual citizenship. It is the hope of countless Haitians in Haiti and throuhout the world that dual citizenship become a reality when the session comes to close on Monday, May 9.

The Haitian Congress for Civic Engagement (“Haitian Congress PAC”) is a Political Action Committee founded by Haitian activists who have been working on different fronts over a number of years in the Diaspora.   We are thankful for the work of our brothers and sisters in Haiti who have persevered in the face of enormous difficulties both natural and man-made.  However, it is an irrefutable fact the vast majority of Haitians continue to live in abject poverty and the country remains severely underdeveloped.  We are convinced that the key link to sustainable recovery of Haiti is through the fully integrated partnership of Haitians inside the country with those of us who live in the Diaspora.  We can no longer afford the mistake of excluding and stigmatizing Haiti’s sons and daughters who have had to leave their motherland for political/economic reasons as “Strangers”. 
Reintegration is crucial to the sustainable development of Haiti.  Today, approximately 2.5 million Haitians live outside of Haiti in countries such as the United States of America, France, Dominican Republic, Canada, Martinique, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, the Congo and elsewhere.  Though we live outside of Haiti and have in many cases adopted the citizenship of other nations, we have never renounced our Haitian Nationality or abandoned our obligation to Haiti and to our people!!!!  In many cases, conditions beyond our control led us to flee our motherland-- Thirty-three (33) coup d’états, abject poverty, the reign of terror under the Duvalier regimes
We in the Diaspora have yearned to reunite with our nation and our people.  We are melancholic.  We suffer from a loss of a significant portion of our identity.  We have never been the same.   We have never abandoned home.  That is why we, the Haitian Diaspora, maintain an extraordinary commitment to our families back home, sending nearly 2 billion dollars in remittance per year.  That is why we re-establish communities wherever we are to celebrate and practice our culture.  That is why we fight to hold on to our memories and ways, our customs and language.  That is why we follow, astutely, every move in our motherland so that we will feel it every step of the way.  That is why we are disappointed with every setback and elated with every inch of progress in our nation. That is why we remain passionate to a fault about our motherland and are ready to fight in search of a path for recovery.  We are not and could never be “Strangers.”  We are Haitians by blood and by our birth on the soil!!!
Even those of us who were born outside of Haiti or who were born in Haiti and but have grown up abroad – somewhat disconnected from the history, the customs, the culture and the language of our people, are not strangers.  Many of us fight to maintain our connections.  We wear our Haitian flag.  We hold on to our history.  We yearn for our mothers’ and fathers’ motherland because it is part of our proud humanity.  We, too, are Haitians by our precious blood!   Without Constitutional Amendments returning our own right to Citizenship of our nation by blood, we remain disconnected and excluded.  As our parents’ generation passes on, we become less and less able to independently sustain our connections to distant relatives and to our ancestral homeland.  The Haitian Diaspora can and should play a significant role in the communities in which we live to help shape the foreign policy of nations such as the United States, Canada, France and others towards Haiti.  But we also have the potential to make a great impact on the future of Haiti as direct contributors if we are allowed to regain our Haitians citizenship. 
One of the most significant obstacles to the full participation of all of Haiti’s children in the life of Haiti is the Constitutional exclusion of those living in the Diaspora who have become naturalized citizens of other nations and of their children.   That is why we have made the pursuit of Dual Citizenship one of our main areas of work.  The Haitian Congress is currently engaged in an urgent campaign to amend all articles of the Haitian Constitution of 1987 that abrogate our rights as Haitian Citizens.  We are fighting to regain all of our rights as Haitian Citizens.   Furthermore, we seek to amend the Constitution to grant to our children born of a Haitian father or a Haitian Mother wherever in the world to maintain their Haitian Nationality by blood (see our section on Dual Citizenship).  Dual Citizenship is indispensable to the full reintegration of all Haitians.
Our other areas of work are Environmental Renewal, Debt Forgiveness, political and economic empowerment of Haitians wherever they live.  In the area of Environmental Renewal, we work to partner with those in Haiti who are engaged in strategic bio-fuel generation and to attract foreign resources to help Haiti with renewable sustainable energy, reforestation, bio-energy, etc. (see our section on Environmental Renewal).  In the area of Debt Forgiveness, we work with partners to lobby international creditors to reduce or eliminate our national debt altogether.  We pay $60 million annually to service a debt that dates back to the era of Papa Doc.  Not only is this unsustainable, but it is unconscionable for our developing democracy to be held hostage by the debt of a dictator.  That money would be better spent on the development of our nation and the social services our people need (see our Section on Debt Forgiveness).  We also lobby to defend the rights of Haitians in the area of immigration in particular (See our section on Other Initiatives).   Finally, the Haitian Congress for Civic Engagement is engaged in political participation to empower the Diaspora itself.  A people who do not vote, and leverage its vote in the US, in particular, are an invisible people and will remain so.
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