Haitian Diaspora Plays Important Role in Earthquake Response

Posted by Jane Daly
April 15, 2010
Women Gather in Little Haiti in Miami

For more information and how you can assist:www.state.gov/haitiquakeAbout the Author: Jane Daly serves as a Program Officer in the Office of Public Liaison.

At Miami Dade College's North Campus on the afternoon of Monday, March 29, neither high winds nor torrential rain prevented locally-based members of the Haitian Diaspora from engaging with State Department officials on the U.S. government's response to the January earthquake disaster.

Members of the Haitian Diaspora based in several cities on the U.S. East Coast engaged in discussion with State Department officials in Washington, DC by means of a digital video conference. Locally elected officials in Boston, New York, and Miami partnered with the Department of State's Bureau of Public Affairs and the Haitian Diaspora Working Group in reaching out to members of the Haitian Diaspora in their communities. In Miami, U.S. Representative Kendrick B. Meek's office (FL-17) organized the local community's involvement. In New York, U.S. Representative Yvette Clarke (NY-11) and City Councilman Jumaane Williams (45th District) participated in the briefing and arranged for community members to participate. In Boston, locally elected officials and representatives of Mayor Thomas M. Menino's office participated.

Participants heard comments from Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Arturo Valenzuela, who provided a status update on the U.S. government's response to the disaster. In addition, officials from the Bureau of Consular Affairs and the U.S. Agency for International Development engaged Diaspora members in discussion on topics ranging from temporary housing, visa issues, and temporary protected status, to reconstruction efforts. The conversation reflects the State Department's ongoing interest in engaging Diaspora members on meaningful ways to involve them in Haiti's reconstruction and development efforts. The entire conversation was streamed live online and can be heard here.



New York, USA
April 15, 2010

Haendel in New York writes:

"What seems apparent from my experience in Haiti is that those coordinating the relief response are detached from the situation. You can't fully understand what Haitians are going through by sitting in an air conditioned office or hotel. You can't experience life on the streets by driving through them instead of walking on them. And you really can't help people if you don't meet with them, talk with them, listen to them. That is perhaps the greatest obstacle in Haiti right now. Those people who know and understand the country, the people and their needs, are not sufficiently involved in the decision-making process".

Florida, USA
May 22, 2010

Niki in Florida writes:

Getting the diaspora involved in rebuilding? Very funny. Already the big businesses of the U.S. are in Haiti and have taken over such as Ashbritt from Pompano Beach, Florida, Bergeron from Ft Lauderdale, Florida, DRC from Alabama and many more. Haitian Diaspora-owned businesses will never be able to compete with these giants through the bidding process the international commission Clinton/Bellerive and the U.S. State Dept. want to establish.


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