Haiti Reaches Out to Diaspora

June 17, 2011  |  

(AP) — Haiti’s new president is reaching out to the 2 million Haitians emigrants whose earnings abroad have long helped keep the struggling country afloat even while they have been shut out of local politics.  Recently inaugurated Michel Martelly, who lived abroad himself, has vowed to overturn Haiti’s long-standing ban on dual citizenship and to build a better relationship with an overseas community that contributes 25 percent of Haiti’s gross domestic product with remittances sent to relatives back home.  The Haitian diaspora, mostly in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean, has been shut out of the political scene. Residency requirements ban those abroad from owning land or running for office, a clause that kept Grammy Award-winning singer Wyclef Jean from fulfilling his dream of running for president of Haiti.  Many Haitians maintain that Martelly can act on his campaign promises because he understands them: He was a widely traveled musician who speaks fluent English and seems as comfortable in the Miami suburbs as he does in the crumbling and chaotic streets of Port-au-Prince.

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