Second Annual Congress of the Haitian Diaspora (August 6-9, 2009)

  • Posted on: 3 July 2009
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

The second annual International Congress of the Haitian Diaspora will take place August 6-9, 2009 at Trump International Beach Resorts in Miami Beach, Florida.  The purpose of the event is to capitalize on the resources that the Diaspora can bring to help build Haiti’s economy.  The agenda includes a variety of issues such as boosting tourism, stimulating agricultural production, restoring forests and ecology, managing water supplies, preparing for disasters, achieving literacy, and job creation.  A schedule of events is copied below.  If you would like to participate, you can register here. Contact information is listed below if you want to volunteer.


8:00 AM - 12:00 PM   Exhibits/Vendor/Sponsor Check in - Bay    Room

9:00 AM - 1:00 PM     Sponsor/Vendor/Sponsor Check in - Bay Room

3:00 PM - 10:00 PM    Registration - Bay Room

3:00 PM - 10:00 PM    Lost and Found - Bay Room

3:00 PM - 7:00 PM      VIP Room - Ocean Room

3:00 PM - 7:00 PM      Sponsor Open - Bay Room

3:00 PM - 7:00 PM      Registration/Technology Café

5:00 PM - 7:00 PM      REGISTRATION - Experts and Community leaders will address the Challenges of the Haitian Diaspora and the Sustainable Economic Development of Haiti

7:00 PM - 10:00 PM    WELCOME, celebrations, get-to-know-you reception.



7:00 AM - 7:50         Registration, Breakfast, Get to Know You.

7:50 AM - 8:00 AM    Invocation

8:00 AM - 8:40 AM    The State of the Country

9:00 AM - 10:30 AM   Panel A1: Boosting Agriculture

                                Panel B1: Improving Water Management

10:40 AM - 12:00 PM Panel A2: Restoring Forests and Ecology

                                Panel B2: Education & Health

12:00 PM - 12:50 PM  Lunch & Entertainment



1:00 PM - 2:30 PM   Panel A3: Extending Infrastructure
                              Panel B3: Stimulating Tourism
2:30 PM - 4:00 PM   Panel A4: Promoting Art/Ecotourism                                  

                              Panel B4: Literacy and vocational Training

4:00 PM - 4:50 PM   Diaspora Remittances & Solidarity Fund.


7PM- 10:00 PM        HAITI IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS"Haiti Center for Facilitation of Investments" Reception


7:00 AM - 7:50 AM      Faith based Breakfast - The Role of The church

8:00 AM - 08:40 AM    Reports on 2008 Congress Resolutions

9:00 AM - 10:30 AM    Panel A5: Diaspora Immersion

                                 Panel B5: Economic Development

10:40 AM - 12:00 PM  Panel A6: Justice/Immigration      

                                 Panel B6: Civic Involvement

12:00 PM - 12:50 PM   Lunch and Entertainment


1:00 PM - 2:30 PM       Panel A7 : Future Leaders Roundtable

                                  Panel B7: Dual Nationality/Voting

2:30 PM - 4:00 PM       Diaspora Youth Challenges

4:00 PM - 4:40 PM       Deliberations and closing remarks.


8:00 PM - 1:00 AM       Diner Award Gala Celebrations.


8:00 AM - 11:00 AM     Govt/Donors Investment Roundtable

2:00- XX                     OPTIONAL CRUISES / FESTIVAL


Annual "Haitian Diaspora Unity Congress" Committee
22 Ball Street
Suite 100
Irvington, NJ 07111
Zaida Torres,
Administrative Assistant,
Phone: 973-371-0089,
Fax: 973-372-7677,

Conrade Prophete
Phone: (786) 390-0557


MIAMI – Former President Bill Clinton announced he will attend and address the 2009 Haitian Diaspora Unity Congress which will take place at the Trump International Beach Resort, Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, on August 6-9, 2009.
The purpose of this congress is to combine and capitalize on the Haitian Diaspora resources to develop solution-oriented strategies to aid Haitians at home and abroad.
This event brings together Haitians from all over the world, government officials and leaders from aid organizations to discuss assisting development in Haiti. Topics scheduled include boosting the island’s agriculture, promoting education and health, and building tourism, among others.
Doctor Rudolph Moise, Chairman of Haitian Diaspora Unity Congress, was thrilled to learn of President Clinton’s participation. “President Clinton is a perfect speaker for this event as the United Nations’ Special Envoy for Haiti,” said Doctor Moise. “His experience in working with Haiti’s government will certainly provide insight for the attendees of this conference on how to best aid Haiti and help the country develop a better standard of living overall.”
Last year, Haiti was beset with numerous crises, from a global rise in food prices to four storms that devastated the island, killing hundreds and leaving thousands more homeless.
The 2009 Haitian Diaspora Unity Congress is being organized by The Haitian League with the cooperation of its chapters and affiliates, and numerous other supporting organizations and agencies. This will be the first time that representatives of Haitian Diaspora from different parts of the world will convene under one roof to find long-term solutions to the major issues that plague Haitians in and out of Haiti.
The Haitian League is a 501(c) 3 tax-exempt organization headquartered in the State of New Jersey, concerned about and dedicated to improving the quality of life for Haitians worldwide.
For registration and for more information on this event, please visit

When Bill Clinton toured Gonaives, Haiti, last month, he had as many questions about the storm-damaged city as he did about his driver, a Miami-Dade police detective on a yearlong leave to help out in his homeland of Haiti.
``I wanted to come back and help out any way I can,'' said Reynald Michel, 41, a Port-au-Prince native who graduated from Miami Edison Senior High and has worked for the Miami-Dade Police Department for six years.
As a United Nations police advisor, Michel is the kind of Haitian American Clinton believes can play an active role in the international community's effort to help Haiti build itself.
Clinton is expected to make that pitch this weekend as hundreds of Haitian and Haitian-American professionals and others gather in South Florida beginning Thursday night for a four-day conference on how the diaspora can better involve itself in Haiti. Their goal is to hammer out a single vision for those outside the Caribbean nation, a deeply divided group that has stumbled for decades in its efforts to organize.
``Everybody's trying here, trying there. So we're trying to work with one voice,'' said Bernier Lauredan, a New Jersey pediatrician who is president of the Haitian League, which organized the conference.
The Haitian Diaspora Unity Congress comes at an opportune moment for Haitians around the world. Lauredan numbers the diaspora at 4.5 million. The Obama administration has made Haiti a priority in the hemisphere, reviewing immigration policy and auditing how funding is working. And Clinton, who restored President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power in 1994 with 20,000 troops, is back in the limelight as the U.N. special envoy to Haiti.
As the Caribbean country gears up for presidential elections next year, the diaspora has launched a vigorous push for dual nationality, a recognition that many say is essential for Haiti's reconstruction.
``What we're looking at with this conference is to start mobilizing the diaspora and to set up some kind of forum where everybody can participate, whether it's the cab driver or the maid,'' Lauredan said.
There have been efforts to strengthen ties between the diaspora and Haiti in the past, but tangible results have been elusive. During his 1990 campaign for office, Aristide coined the term ``the 10th Department'' -- a reference to those of Haitian ancestry living outside Haiti's then-nine departments. Aristide called them Haiti's ``prodigal children.'' Mass migration under the Duvalier regime led to a brain drain.
After he was elected, Aristide created a special ministry that sought to involve those outside the country. But as much as the priest turned president wanted to engage the diaspora, he also became a lightning rod for division among its members. Fierce debates were waged in South Florida and New York, further hampering efforts to organize.
Today, the role of the diaspora has long been significant in at least one way. Haitians abroad wire millions of dollars back home -- money that accounts for a whopping third of the gross domestic product and helps to keep the country afloat.In 2007, Haiti collected $1.83 billion in remittances, according to the Inter-American Development Bank. The moneyis used for schooling, healthcare, housing and other basic necessities.
Despite the money transfers, the diaspora has long received a mixed reception inside Haiti. Some view hyphenated Haitians as know-it-alls with fancy degrees and little understanding of life in the country of nine million.
`There is a perception among the elected officials that the more qualified members of the diaspora will come and take over,'' said Rudolph Moise, a local physician who will chair the conference and is slated to introduce Clinton. ``That's not the case. What we want is a better Haiti for everybody.''
The conference seeks to confront some of the biggest issues facing Haiti, ranging from developing agriculture production and education and the health system to preserving endangered ecosystems. Boosting tourism and investment are also high on the agenda.
The list of speakers range from current and past government ministers in Haiti to business leaders to South Florida elected officials. Marking her second official visit to South Florida since being appointed prime minister, Michele Pierre-Louis is scheduled to be among the speakers on Friday.
Clinton is certain to be the star attraction. He has made the rounds, having talked strategy with Haitian President René Préval, met with deep-pocketed benefactors and hugged babies in Gonaives. But the former president has yet to bring his message to the heart of the Haitian community -- South Florida. On Sunday, he is scheduled to give the keynote address, ``A Fresh Start for Haiti.''
In a video on YouTube in which Clinton recounts his recent trip to Haiti, he mentions his many meetings with Haitian leaders, as well as a recent one with Haitians in New York.
``I look forward to continuing these important discussions . . . down in Florida,'' Clinton tells viewers, referring to the diaspora.
And while the conference will draw Haitians from cities like Atlanta and Chicago -- a reflection of how the community has grown outside New York and Miami -- some remain skeptical about the outcome.
``It could be a feel-good conference -- people will feel good -- [because] they're talking about Haiti,'' said Alex Dupuy, a sociology professor at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. ``But it's not clear to me that the kind of critical thinking the conference needs will go on.''
Dupuy said the agenda offers a single viewpoint: that of the Haitian elite. ``I'm not sure what such a conference will produce and how that will relate to Haitian immigrants who come from very different backgrounds,'' said Dupuy, who has written extensively on Haitian politics.
Organizers say the event will bear fruit. ``It's not a feel-good conference,'' said Lauredan of the Haitian League. ``We feel hopeful that we'll have the cohesion to get the movement going.''
As for Michel, Clinton's driver for four hours, he believes that his work in Haiti is worthwhile. His wife and four daughters support his decision, he said.
``Everybody needs to help,'' said Michel of North Miami Beach. ``Hopefully, kids behind me can take this as an example.''
Miami Herald staff writer Jacqueline Charles contributed to this report.

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