Wednesday, November 10, 2010

For Those Who Would Like To Become Haitian: Dual Citizenship

If you didn't have time to read the lengthy and thought-provoking article by Rene Bruemmer of the Montreal Gazette that I posted last week, here are some of the points that drew my attention.

"Political instability and poor governance [are] the most important drivers of failure from which all other negative consequences follow."

Building roads, school, and hospitals is relatively easy compared to maintaining and running them. The latter takes an educated bureaucracy to manage the never ending tasks associated with governing and running institutions.

Sixteen thousand civil servants were killed in the earthquake, more than 20% of the country's public administration workforce. There is joke in Haiti that those killed were the most dedicated employees as they not only bothered to show up for work, but were still there late in the afternoon when the earthquake hit.

Powerful elites limit institutions because the institutions usurp the elite's power. Instead the elites create patronage networks, based on loyalty to the elites.

Eighty percent of Haiti's college graduates flee their homeland "for the brighter future of elsewhere."

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) provide 75% of the health care in Haiti.

One of Bruemmer theses is that Haiti needs educated bureaucrats who can help run the state. He believes that some of the money pledged to help Haiti should go for this purpose. He acknowledges that the process of building institutions takes years or even decades.

Haiti needs an influx of educated people to help build these institutions. One could argue that Haiti has that in the many NGO's and the UN which have a presence in Haiti, but given their huge presence, the successes seem minimal. As well meaning as all these outsiders are, they remain, to some extent outsiders. A lack of experienced, educated, committed Haitians exists. What to do?

As I pondered this question, a thought popped into my mind: What about dual citizenship? What if the United States, Canada, and France, with Haiti's permission, allowed their citizens to have dual citizenship with Haiti? These three countries come to mind because of their historical relationships with Haiti and also because of the large numbers of Haitians who live in these countries, particularly the U.S. and Canada. People of Haitian descent or others who have a connection to Haiti--perhaps those who have adopted children--might be interested in becoming citizens of Haiti and more fully participating in the building of the country if they could retain their current citizenship.

I realize this idea is a little half baked, and I will explore its pros and cons in further posts. But things must change in Haiti, or as Bruemmer says, the tragedies of the present will join the tragedies of the past that are"waiting in the wings to hobble the future."

1 comment:

James Miller said...

I've been reading your blog for awhile, as well as another one of Haiti. I've seen a few groups that I really can't respect much, sending help and what I can only refer to as "aid tourists" to Haiti. I just want to say first that the work that you, as well as a "New Vision Ministries" are doing is great. Truly inspirational. And the information that you are passing on is very important.
I've seen in the last few months, as the storm season started, that the media attention has deteriorated even further. The cholera outbreak is at least getting in the news. I'm disturbed by the lack perseverance that America has shown in respect to Haiti, since the earthquake.
I'm not a person of much wealth, but would like to be able to help. I don't know if that means organizing supplies that could help, or possibly even traveling to assist at some point (I have some medical and first response training).
What things can we do here to assist or help prepare us to help down there?