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28272: Hermantin(News)Former residents seek voting rights, dual citizenship (fwd)
From: leonie hermantin <email@example.com>
Haitian expatriate forum set up
Former residents seek voting rights, dual citizenship
By Alva James-Johnson
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
April 10, 2006
When Dumarsais Simeus tried to seek Haiti's presidency in a recent election,
the country's officials barred him from the race because he was a U.S. citizen.
Now the Texas multimillionaire is inviting other expatriates to a forum in
Haiti to give them more say in the country's economic and political affairs. He
expects many South Florida residents to attend.
"My experience heightened my sense of urgency to get the diaspora involved,"
said the founder of Texas-based Simeus Foods International. "Part of my running
had to do with me saying we're still Haitians and we can't be excluded."
The May 12 forum will take place only two days before the inauguration of
President-elect René Préval.
Daniela Henry, a Haitian-American community organizer in Delray Beach, said she
is coordinating the effort among expatriates in South Florida. She expects the
conference to draw about 400 people who will push for dual citizenship,
representation in parliament, and the right to vote and own multiple properties
"If we're contributing to the economy of Haiti, why can't we vote?" Henry asked
Thursday. "Why can't we have people elected and have them in government
Haiti has seen its most recent spate of political upheaval since the 2004
ouster of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Simeus launched a campaign
for president leading up to the February elections. But the interim government,
led by former Boca Raton retiree Gerard Latortue, disqualified him because the
country doesn't allow dual citizenship.
Other expatriates weren't so optimistic about the conference.
"It's been done before," said Lesly Jacques, owner of Boca Raton's Radio
Haiti-Amerique Internationale. "Under Aristide I remember quite well people
coming from everywhere and coming to Haiti. They talk and that's it. Let's hope
it's different this time."
Alva James-Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or
Copyright © 2006, South Florida Sun-Sentinel