From Poverty to Prosperity: The Roots Causes of Poverty and Migration in Haiti

Originally Published: BAJI Reader 2, no. 1 (Spring 2011): pg. 18-21

Introduction

On January 1, 1804, a revolution led by slaves against colonialism and slavery was the very first successful Black movement in the world resulting in an independent state. On January 1, 2010, the Republic of Haiti celebrated its 206th year of Independence. Tragically, on January 12, 2010 at 4:53 pm, this beautiful, mountainous "Pearl of the Antilles" was brought to its knees by a major natural disaster--this time by a 7.0 earthquake.

In the wake of the recent earthquake, the international community has come to the immediate aid of Haiti. Cuba and Venezuela were some of the first-responder nations to the catastrophe, sending doctors and medical equipment to assist with the wounded. Not too far behind was the United States. The U.S. sent aid, governmental organizations, and the military. Of course this is not the first time there has been such a massive military presence in Haiti by the U.S. government; unfortunately, this is a well-designed strategy for U.S.-Haiti relations. Anytime conditions in Haiti have been unstable, the American government has sent the military in to “protect democracy” and “protect American and foreign interests.”

U.S. Occupations of Haiti

On July 28, 1915, three hundred and thirty United States Marines, led by Admiral William B. Caperton entered Port-au-Prince, Haiti. This was the first U.S. occupation of Haiti which consequently lasted 19 years. During the occupation, the U.S. Government led by then-President Woodrow Wilson, initiated several administrative changes. The most significant change was the redrafting of the Republic of Haiti’s Constitution. The U.S. (through its puppet-president Philippe Sudré Dartiguenave) amended the constitution repealing the article that was set forth by Jean-Jacque Dessalines in 1804, forbidding land ownership by foreigners. Additionally, the U.S. created the Army of Haiti (Forces Armées d’Ayiti) whose primary purpose was to maintain stability in the Republic. Ultimately, on August 7, 1933, Haiti and the U.S. signed an agreement on the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country which eventually ended the first U.S. occupation of Haiti.

On December 16, 1990, Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide became the first democratically-elected President of Haiti. On February 7, 1991, Aristide was sworn in as President and subsequently on September 30, 1991 President Aristide was overthrown by a coup d'état led by Haiti's military chief, Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras. In September 1994 as of result of the coup, some twenty thousand U.S. troops entered Haiti to assist with the return of the overthrown President Aristide; this came to be known as U.S. Operation Uphold Democracy that officially ended on March 31, 1995.

In addition to Operation Uphold Democracy in 1994, the United Nations has continued to have a presence in Haiti since the ousting of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004. MINUSTAH (French: Mission des Nations Unies pour la Stabilisation en Haïti; English: United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti) is led by the Brazilian Army. The current UN mission is authorized until October 15, 2010. This “peacekeeping” mission has been criticized since its inception. MINUSTAH has conducted raids in the many slums of the capital and have killed many innocent civilians in the process. On July 6, 2005, MINUSTAH carried out a raid in the Slum of Cité Soleil which resulted in the death of about 23 people. In addition to Cité Soleil, there have been reports of a campaign of “political cleansing” in the Slum of Bel Air. Reports from pro-Lavalas sources, as well as journalists such as Kevin Pina, contend that the raid targeted civilians and was an attempt to destroy the popular support for Haiti's exiled former leader, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, before scheduled upcoming elections.

Haiti is known to the world as the “poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.” It’s a  nation full of political instability and corruption. Many observers believe there is no way that Haiti can ever be salvaged or developed. Nations that enter; declare they enter Haiti, to strengthen democratic institutions and to promote peace and prosperity. Yet brutal dictators such as Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, the former dictator of Haiti, who succeeded his father “Papa Doc, continues to live in exile in France and remains free and unprosecuted for the criminal acts he committed while in power.

Additionally, the country’s infrastructure was in shambles and now as a result of the hurricanes of 2000 and 2004 and the earthquakes of January 2010, the infrastructure in Haiti has completely collapsed. Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to occupy Haiti in the wake of the earthquake and remain completely oblivious to the needs of the people of Haiti. The U.S. is much more concerned with stopping a potential migration of Haitians in to the U.S.

Economic Globalization and Migration Trends  

When attempting to understand migration trends of Haitians, it is pertinent to understand the root causes of migration. Many Haitians who risks their lives to get on a boat and make the conscious decision to leave Haiti do not do it by choice, but rather out of necessity. John Maxwell in his article Racism and Poverty states: When large numbers of people are reduced to eating dirt – earth, clay – it is impossible to imagine poverty any more absolute, any more desperate, any more inhuman and degrading.

About 80% of Haiti’s population is unemployed and living on less than a dollar a day. In a population of about 9 million people, 6.2 million lives in poverty. Additionally, as a result of the policies of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) and their willingness to grant loans to nations they are aware would have tremendous difficulty in repaying the loans, the Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) were instituted, also known as, conditionalities for new loans or for obtaining lower interest rates on existing loans. Through conditionalities, SAPs commonly implement internal changes such as privatization and deregulation (which generally leads to less accountability and oversight). This leads to the privatization of health care (we have all seen how well it’s going in the U.S.), the privatization of education, and all other social programs. All in all, what SAPs programs provide is a lack of oversight and mechanisms of accountability, everything transfers from public to private hands, where the interests is not in serving the population, but personal gain.

Economic Globalization is another factor which has a tremendous effect on increasing poverty rates in Haiti. The biggest problems that economic globalization creates is: (1) Brain Drain -- this is in response to the opportunities in richer countries such as the U.S., Canada, and France; because of this avenue many Haitians leave and never come back and (2) Sweatshops -- foreign businesses invest in Haiti to take advantage of lower wage rates and to exploit workers. A measure backed by the U.S. is the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE) Act of 2006. Ultimately, this act created an avenue for increase economic development in Haiti, as well as, exploitation of Haitian workers. In 2008, HOPE II was passed which required Haiti “to establish an independent labor ombudsman’s office and a program operated by the International Labor Organization to assess compliance with core labor rights and Haiti's labor laws in the country's apparel factories.” Now with the additions made to HOPE II the U.S. created some form of accountability to worker exploitation. One of the significant changes that were seen was the increase of Haiti’s minimum wage from 70 gourdes to 200 gourdes (1.75 USD to 5.50 USD) which was strongly opposed by Haitian Industrialists.

 

The State of Haiti: Natural Disaster

Before the earthquakes on January 12th, the masses of Haiti were homeless; suffering from malnutrition and hunger, which was primarily in part of the hurricanes, floods, mudslides and food crises. Although many of the problems stem from the natural disasters that have damaged the island, they can also be traced to the racism and classism that exist in the nation. Haiti’s most serious social problem is the economic gap between the impoverished Creole-speaking black majority and the French-speaking mulattos, 1% of whom own nearly half the country’s wealth.

In August 2008, four major storms ravaged Haiti (Tropical Storm Fay and Hanna and Hurricane Gustav and Ike) killing hundreds and displacing hundreds of thousands. The storms caused flooding in all ten of the departments in Haiti. The storms destroyed approximately one-third of the country’s rice crop, where in many parts farming is the only means of survival. Therefore, as a result of the storms, the livelihoods of many were destroyed and the food crisis in Haiti exacerbated. Regrettably the circumstances have not changed one bit in regards to the recent earthquakes in Haiti. In spite of the massive influx of aid into Haiti, many are still hungry, not receiving the proper medical care and are living in sheet-covered tents. Some statements provided by community leaders in Miami are that the classism is evident in Haiti. Some have come back with reports that many of the masses are suffering from starvation and shockingly others are actually overeating.

Now to be fair, not all of the response to the earthquake has been poor, there have been a couple of huge things that came out in response to the disaster. The first of which was the designation of Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Temporary Protected Status was a campaign that many nationally and a few internationally aggressively fought for since the storms of 2000 and 2004. However, unfortunately, on December 19, 2008 a denial letter was sent to President Rene Preval in response to his request for TPS, stating that “Haiti does not currently warrant a TPS designation.” Nonetheless, on January 15, 2010, Secretary Janet Napolitano of the Department of Homeland Security announced the designation of TPS for Haitians as a direct result of the earthquake on January 12th.

The second positive that has come out of the catastrophe has been the tremendous support worldwide for overall debt cancellation for Haiti. In the U.S. this effort is led by many organizations, one of which I have had the opportunity to work with and is very invested in the campaign for debt cancellation, Jubilee USA Network. This organization has worked closely with Congress, specifically, Rep. Maxine Waters to introduced the Jubilee Act for Responsible Lending and Expanded Debt Cancellation Act. The debt cancellation for Haiti movement is growing strong and now we must look to the future for the development and sustainability of Haiti.

 

Upward Bound: What’s in Haiti’s Future?

To say that we can predict what the future holds for Haiti would be a massive stretch. However, I do not believe it’s a stretch to think about what we would like to see for the future of Haiti. Ayiti Cheri’m translates into “My Darling Haiti,” Haiti is a beautiful island with an equally rich and beautiful history. Haiti was once a prosperous country and I truly believe with the right intentions it will have its day. Specifically, I am suggesting the following policy considerations to address critical concerns for sustainability in Haiti: 

(1)    Poverty: We, the international community, need to recognize that Haiti is poor. We cannot only say it, but we must acknowledge it and figure out the root causes to its poverty. With the knowledge gained, we must then find applicable solutions. We must find solutions to address the issues of deforestation, clean water, and reliable electricity.

(2)    Debt Cancellation: The biggest problem as I previously mentioned, is that institutions purposefully lend money to nations that cannot pay them back, to institute Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) which in the end does more harm than good. We have learned through history that throwing money at the problem does not work. There is a lack of accountability and because of the high corruption rate in Haiti nothing ever gets accomplished. There needs to be accountability mechanisms created by the government of Haiti to deal with this problem of corruption, as well as, accountability mechanisms created by the lending institutions of the work that was required with the money provided.

(3)    Political Instability: Acknowledge the political instability in Haiti, which in turn should lead to the formulation of policies to deal with Haitian migrants as we have done with other groups. The denial rate for Haitian political asylum is about 85-90%.Yet almost every day a Haitian is killed for political reasons or takes a life-threatening journey to the U.S. to escape political persecution.

(4)    Economic Reform: There is a need for a massive overhauling of Haiti’s political and economic structure. Instead of the U.S. sending in troops to “protect democracy,” how about the U.S. and the rest of the international community send it developers to assist with the reformation of the economic system in Haiti. One of the biggest things Haiti lacks is a system of taxes. This has been the primary attraction for many who come to Haiti to make a “quick buck.” It is imperative for a country to have a system of taxes to assist with the economic stability of the country.

(5)    Sovereignty: Haiti is an independent nation, yet with the continuous occupation of the nation and the never ending parade of troops, many would believe otherwise. Haitians must allowed be able to run their own country without interference from other nations. The international community needs to take a step back instead of “kidnapping” presidents and stop installing puppet presidents.

Although at the present moment Haiti is suffering, it is not in vain. Haiti will one day get off its knees and stand up on its two feet. It will have righted all of its wrong and be a prosperous nation. The day will come where the people will not flee their home, but will rejoice in the beautifulness that is Haiti. The day will come where the doctors, engineers, and entrepreneurs will come home and the brain drain will end. With this renewed spirit, a new dawn of economic prosperity and political stability is on the horizon.

You Can’t Deny Who You Are: A Tale Of Two Nations

Originally Published: RISE NEWS, July 11, 2015

As you read this, hundreds of thousands of Haitians and Dominicans are being forced out of their homes in the Dominican Republic and sent to Haiti just for being Black. 

 

I am a Haitian-Dominican-American, and this hurts me. Not only because I’m a Black woman, or because some parts of my family still live on both sides of the island, but also because the hatred and racism transpiring could question everyone’s citizenship anywhere just because of our race, even here in the U.S.

 

When I was a kid learning about the island of Hispaniola, I understood that we were one island with two nations, with the blood of strong African slaves that fought and died for their independence flowing through our veins. It is sad to see we have forgotten about our common history and roots, and that Blacks are considered pariah in the land they freed.

 

The current conflict on the island is deeply rooted in racism and self-hatred. But this is nothing new. The Dominican Republic and Haiti have a long and complicated history of prejudice and racial discrimination. In 1937, then-President Rafael Trujillo led a state-sanctioned genocide of more than 20,000 Haitians, which is known as the “Parsley Massacre,” cleansing the DR of Blacks.

 

Now more than 75 years later, in 2013 the Dominican Republic retroactively stripped away the citizenship of children of Haitian migrants born after 1929 if they were never registered in the country. Over 250,000 Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent would be impacted by this and could be deported anytime.

 

The Ambassador of the DR in the U.S. says “no deportations have occurred since President Danilo Medina decreed a moratorium in December 2013.” But, more than 31,000 people have left the DR on their own, and there are confirmations that civilians are forcing, not only Haitians, but also Black Dominicans, to the border and burning up their homes and properties.

 

 Watch: “Haitians Forcibly Removed and Property Destroyed”

 

This is self-hatred at its worst. Many Dominicans categorize their race based on the one-drop rule working in reverse. If someone has one drop of white blood, it makes even the darkest Dominican identify themselves as white. Self-hatred in the Dominican Republic is alive and well; many are in denial and choose not to acknowledge their ancestral roots and ties to Mother Africa.

 

And, this is racism. Saying that it has nothing to do with race or being Black, would be like saying that the Holocaust was not a genocide that killed over 6 million Jews or that South Africa’s Apartheid had nothing to do with racial segregation of the majority Black population by the white minorities. This is happening, it is real and it is our responsibility to denounce it.

 

As a U.S. citizen, it is infuriating to see the lack of action of the U.S. government; their silence validates the actions of the DR government. And, as the daughter of immigrants in the U.S., this doesn’t fall too far from home. For years, Republicans in Congress have tried to do the same and pass Birthright Citizenship laws to deny the right to citizenship for U.S. born babies if their parents are immigrants.

 

Join us! National groups throughout the country will be leading a week of action from July 26 to August 1 to ask the U.S. government to speak up, to bring attention to the injustice and the inhumane treatment and to show solidarity to the hundred of thousands of Haitians and Dominicans suffering in Hispaniola.

An Open Letter to Florida Democrats

Over the past few days, I’ve debated a lot on whether or not I should be writing this letter. Rarely am I a person who voices my opinion in an open forum as it relates to the Florida Democratic Party. However, what has brought me to this point, is the uncomfortable feeling that the party is on track to repeat the same process, where those who know how to game the system, are doing it once again.

 

Last Thursday, the news broke of several women making statements regarding “inappropriate behavior” about then-Chairman Stephen Bittel of the Florida Democratic Party. Many of the women came out anonymously for fear of retribution, that they felt “uncomfortable” and that several felt “he was creepy towards women.”

 

Shortly after these statements were released, then-Chairman Bittel announced that he would be resigning. His official resignation was submitted, yesterday, November 20, 2017 at 11:59 pm.

 

Hours before his official resignation, then-Chairman Bittel called for a regularly scheduled meeting of the Florida Democratic Party Executive Committee to be held on Saturday, December 9, 2017 at 1:00 pm.

 

It is because of this regularly scheduled meeting, that I now write this open letter. For those who may not be too familiar with our state party bylaws, the calling of this meeting may not seem out of the ordinary. However, given the current circumstances there are many things wrong with the fact that the outgoing chair, who is resigning because of allegations, has called a meeting of the executive committee for the purposes of regular business shortly after our state party convention.

 

I say all of this because, I feel that this is a special election to fill the vacancy under the guise of a regular meeting and I object to this. I feel in no way shape or form, can the outgoing chair be responsible for calling a state party meeting, where there could be a special election to elect his successor. For this course of action to take place would mean that we as a party will once again choose which rules we abide by or don’t abide by. The process is clearly laid out in the bylaws on steps moving forward after a resignation and we must follow these rules.

 

We need to uphold our bylaws. We need to live our values and allow for a clear, transparent and democratic process where the vote for our newly elected chair by the State Executive Committee is not rushed. We have a right to make an informed decision, we have a right to lay out a timeline which provides an opportunity for all who seek to run for chair to campaign across the state. We cannot advocate for expediency, which will comprise the integrity of our rules and processes. We established a process and we owe it to our party to not game the rules, we must do what is right. It is unfair to rush this process.

 

After consultation with several state executive committee members who understand the bylaws just as much as I do and even more than I; I recommend the following timeline to allow ample time for candidates to campaign, without having too much of a gap between the shifting leadership. At the end of the day, the First Vice-Chair and now Acting Chair holds the power to allow for a clear, transparent and engaging democratic process.

 

Timeline:

  • On November 20, 2017 at 6:30 pm, State Executive Committee members received an email calling for a regular scheduled meeting to be held on Saturday, December 9, 2017 at 1:00 pm.

 

  • On November 20th, 2017 at 11:59 pm, the official resignation of FDP Chairman Stephen Bittel was submitted and received.

 

  • With this resignation, a vacancy was then created. This means as of today, FDP 1st Vice-Chair is our current acting chair. Refer to the FDP Bylaws, Article II, Section 2.3.1 State Chair’s Absence: The First Vice Chair shall perform the duties of the State Chair on his or her absence or in the event of a vacancy in the office. The First Vice Chair shall perform other duties usual to such office or which are required in the State Chair’s absence, except for appointments to standing committees or to the Central Committee. The First Vice Chair shall preside over meetings of the State Executive Committee in the absence of the State Chair.

 

  • With the First Vice-Chair as the Acting Chair, she can now perform the duties of the chair to void and cancel the scheduled meeting that was called by then-Chair Bittel who has officially resigned.

 

  • Once the meeting is canceled, the Acting Chair can then perform her duties as noted in Article II, Section 2.7 Vacancies: In the event of a vacancy in the office of State Chair, the First Vice Chair shall call a meeting of the Central Committee within thirty (30) days for the election of a new State Chair who shall serve until the next regular meeting of the State Executive Committee. In accordance with this section, I recommend, that the acting chair should conduct a vote-by-mail by December 20, 2017, of the Central Committee for the election of the Interim Chair. This would encourage more modernized techniques of casting a vote.

 

  • Within a timely manner, after the Interim Chair is elected by the Central Committee, the interim chair will have all of the powers to perform the duties of the chair, including appointments to standing committees or to the Central Committee. Given that we will be in the holiday season, the interim chair would call the next meeting after the holidays.

 

  • The interim chair could call the next regularly scheduled State Executive Committee meeting during the first or second weekend in January. During this meeting, the election for the new State Party chair would be held and whoever is elected would serve out the remainder of the term.

 

I have laid out this timeline to show that we can play by the rules and be effective and maintain the integrity of the process and our party. As elected members of the State Executive Committee, we do not serve at the discretion of our own personal beliefs, we represent local DECs who entrusted us and elected us to our positions and we must do right by them.

 

We cannot enter the 2018 election season with bad energies and bad vibes where members of our party and our voters see the internal functions of the party where many double standards exist.

 

In the moment where hatred is running rampant, people feel emboldened to target vulnerable people and communities. We should push our values forward and continue to fight for equality, equity, justice, fairness and all the things that makes us the People’s Party. But this must start at home first with transparency and an engaging process. It is only then will our voters feel empowered, we will turnout voters across the state and mobilize them to the polls, to take the Governor’s Mansion, we will hold onto our U.S. Senate seat, we will increase our numbers in the Florida House and get closer to having a majority in the Florida Senate and we will strengthen our bench and win local.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Francesca Menes, MPA

Treasurer, Florida Democratic Party

State Committeewoman, Miami-Dade Democratic Executive Committee

Cut from the Same Cloth: Black Family Reunion

Black. Family. Love.

In my family, I walk into a space surrounded by love.I walk into a space of acceptance. I walk into a space where we share common experiences, struggles and a passion to fight and protect our kin and our community.

My family is the Black Immigration Network (BIN).

It was 6 years ago, that a group of Black immigrants and African-Americans convened in Baltimore, Maryland with a clear understanding that our experiences are linked. Whether we migrated involuntary by force or out of the circumstances and the conditions in our countries in the Caribbean, the Americas or Africa. Or we migrated for the hope of living the “American Dream,” we all are cut from the same cloth and share the experience of what it means to be Black in America.

Our communities are under attack and we have a responsibility to unify our voices in order to amplify our impact. BIN is a national network of people and organizations serving Black immigrant and African-American communities. At the core of our network is creating a space where we can build between all communities of African descent.

On April 8th, 2016, BIN hosted our 5th National Kinship Assembly, Black Love Beyond Borders. With over 400 family members of African descent from across the globe, we stood together and had difficult, emotional and much needed conversations where we embrace all of who we are in this world and our place within the immigrant rights and broader social justice movement.

Watch BIN Kinship Assembly 2016 Video

Imagine walking into a room where on one hand you can count the number of Blacks in the room. Over the past 8 years, this has been my reality in most immigrant rights movement spaces I enter. I am the Black woman always asking the question, where are the Black immigrants in this room? Why are there so few us? How can this be, when over 3.8 million Black immigrants call the U.S. home and of that 400,000 are undocumented. This movement cannot continue to exist as a fight for fair treatment for all regardless of one’s status, but do not incorporate, regardless of one’s race.

Our communities do not have adequate resources to thrive. Exploitation. Modern-Day Slavery. These are our realities, not only in the U.S., but also throughout the globe. By making these connections, we can understand the root causes of migration and that our struggles are completely linked.

All of our communities are under attack. Our youth are being gunned down. Our communities are being racially profiled. Mass criminalization and incarceration is the reality of black and brown communities in the U.S. Our children from the day they are born have already been marked to not excel in this “land of opportunity,” through the cradle-to-prison pipeline, which criminalizes our youth for profit. Private prisons and detention centers maintain their profits by the number of bodies they have in their beds, which leads to unfair criminal justice reform putting a target on the backs our communities.

Inclusiveness in our social movement is not the sole responsibility of those who seek to be included; it is the responsibility of all who are part of the movement to demand the diversity our communities are reflected in these spaces.

I am thankful everyday that I have my BIN family and we created our own space in this movement, which forces us all to think about, who else is missing in this space, who would you say is not properly represented?

Francesca Menes a Haitian-Dominican-American from Miami, Florida. She is the Director of Policy of Advocacy of the Florida Immigrant Coalition. She is a founding steering committee member of the Black Immigration Network. 

State Committeewoman with most votes, will cast vote for Bullard

This Saturday, the elections for the Florida Democratic Party Chair will finally take place. Democrats from throughout the state will come together to choose the next leader of our party. As the State Committeewoman from Miami-Dade I have the responsibility of casting our votes for the future of our party.

During this past election cycle, we saw a recurring theme. A theme which has continued to create a growing disconnect between the people and their political party. The defeat of Hillary Clinton exposed the need for a drastically new direction for not only the Democratic Party in Florida, but the Democratic National Committee. The business as usual approach of Democrats does not work. We are consumed by playing it safe and too dominated by money interests, pundits, and technocracy to be responsive to the direct needs of our communities.  

If there is any lesson we’ve learned from this past cycle is money alone doesn’t win elections.  The candidates and the party have to stand for something that voters believe in.

Democrats were once known as the party of the people, the party of the working class, a party of inclusion, a party that would stand against corporations, special interests, and stand up for the regular person. Regrettably, many no longer have that perception of the Democratic Party. There has been a major shift in identity on the national level, which has trickled down to the states, where the party is seen as the party of corporate welfare, dominated by intellectual elites.  We are seen as the party of many words and very few actions that really account for people who are struggling.

To begin a revival, we must apply a basic principle of organizing: Those who are directly affected must be at the center of the change we seek. We must acknowledge the importance of putting working class families, young people, Black communities, women and other marginalized and minority communities at the core of our strategy. This must be reflected in our new chair.

I acknowledge the importance of fundraising, building a long lasting and self-sustaining infrastructure focused on cultivating a leadership pipeline and candidate recruitment with a strong management team that understands the importance of leveraging the resources in our communities. But all the money, vendors, and consultants in the world can’t move our voters to the polls if they don’t believe in who we are at the core. The new Chair must, more than anything, embody the politics, values, and vision of the Party we want to be. Our investors, our activists, our infrastructure must line up behind that vision.

With vision and commitment, the new Chair must:

  1. Make Our Internal Functioning Democratic and with Integrity: party leaders need to check their privilege at the door and get down to working on the people’s agenda;

  2. Commit to build from the bottom-up and invest in making local DECs strong, diverse and effective;

  3. Make year round commitments to Black communities and other marginalized communities, don’t just engage and mobilize our communities during elections; ORGANIZE!

  4. Identify innovative and strategic ways to raise funds as to avoid being reliant on corporate donors and special interests; and

  5. Speak to the economic pain that our people are feeling and make clear commitments to working people, including being front and center against corporate control of our economy and democracy

We are a party of the people, for the people. We have a responsibility to our base. We are at a pivotal moment in our country and our party, where we must prioritize strengthening the foundation of our base. It is time for a fundamental reboot of the party, where we are committed to building from the bottom up, build our organizing infrastructure, develop new leadership, and work hand in hand with movements that are moving people into action. We must uplift the values and the principles of the Democratic Party. We must develop a collective vision and support that vision with a plan which we operationalize and put into action as a new way of building power for our communities. We must create a vehicle that people believe in and will ultimately invest in over the long-term.

I know I am very excited to cast my vote for Chair for former State Senator Dwight Bullard and I proudly endorse him for Chair of the Florida Democratic Party.

We’ve got a lot of work of ahead and I encourage all who are currently running for chair to make a commitment of uniting our party, holding all accountable with our voters and community at the helm. As the Haitian proverb goes, “Men anpil, chay pa lou”, which means, “Many hands makes the load lighter.” We all have a role to play in strengthening this party, this is not only the work of the next Florida Democratic Party Chair.

Francesca Menes, State Committeewoman, Miami-Dade Democratic Executive Committee who has one of the largest vote allocation of 62 votes to be cast on Saturday, January 14th for Florida Democratic Party Chair.