Editor’s Note: I recently attended a New York panel hosted by the Haitian Roundtable on the diaspora’s role in rebuilding Haiti. One speaker, Johnny Celestin, founder of a new Haiti investment fund and diaspora liaison at the Clinton Foundation kept it real about the diaspora’s obligations and offered tangible to-do’s and opportunities. With his permission I reprint his speech, edited for the Web, here.
The issues before us today are so important that we can’t concern ourselves with the possibility of offending sensibilities. So without being too controversial, I would like to start with the hypothesis that the Diaspora is invisible and therefore irrelevant in the current debate about Haiti. This irrelevance is nothing new but it is most acutely felt here in the United States because of proximity, the sheer size of Haitian Diaspora in the US, and its influence on the Haitian economy.
Let’s start with a few figures. They are the context within which we are here to discuss the question, “What is the role for the Haitian Diaspora?”