Haitians in Miami Lost another Political Post

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Haitians in Miami Lost another Political Post

Post by T-dodo » Wed May 11, 2005 6:09 pm

[quote]Posted on Wed, May. 11, 2005


Burns wins mayor's race, ending Haitian majority

Kevin Burns, a longtime activist, won decisively in the election for North Miami mayor. He replaces Joe Celestin, the first Haitian-American mayor of a large U.S. city.



Activist Kevin Burns decisively won the mayor's job in North Miami, putting an end to the city's four-year Haitian-American council majority by defeating a candidate endorsed by Mayor Joe Celestin, who must step down because of term limits.

Burns, who will be sworn in Tuesday, beat Jean Monestime 58 percent to 36 percent despite being outspent 2-1. Monestime had been endorsed by Celestin, the city's first Haitian-American mayor.

''I think our message of inclusiveness and the positive tone of the campaign worked,
'' Burns said. ``I think people wanted that. Even in the heavily Haitian-American areas, I either won or I did well, so I think people know we're going to represent all the people.''

Burns had based his campaign largely on an anti-Celestin message, saying he thought the city had been mismanaged and that Monestime would follow in Celestin's footsteps.

Celestin had predicted an easy victory for Monestime. Once the results were in, however, he said he saw the voting as a stamp of approval for his own controversial tenure.

''Jean was not me,'' Celestin said. 'People were telling me all day, `I wish I could vote for you.' ''

The other council candidates endorsed by Celestin all won.

Burns, 46, a Realtor and longtime city activist on the city's east side, hugged his daughter Autumn and his partner Rob Flint as the results were announced at City Hall and he accepted congratulations from Celestin.

Monestime appeared confident before the tally, but then left and
did not return as the early voting was all Burns. Monestime, also a Realtor, could not be reached for comment. The 42-year-old councilman had resigned his seat to run for mayor.

Some had predicted that Burns would get Haitian votes because of disenchantment with Celestin, who gained a place in history as the first Haitian American to lead a large city in the United States, but alienated some with a series of employee firings and a proposal to name the city's main drag after himself.

Celestin was elected in 2001 and reelected in 2003.

The voting was heaviest in west-side District 4, which went about 2-1 for Monestime, and east-side District 2, which went 3-1 for Burns.

Marie Erlande Steril, a friend of Monestime's, became the first black woman on the City Council with a victory over Alix Desulme and Delawrence Blue for the District 4 seat vacated by Monestime.

''I worked very hard. I've been campaigning for over a year,'' Steril said.

Incumbent Michael Blynn ea
sily beat back a challenge by Michael Killiany, and Frank Wolland defeated incumbent City Clerk Simon Bloom.

Burns said he will take a quick vacation before taking the mayor's seat next week.

''We're going to hit the ground running and get some things done,'' Burns said.[/quote]


Post by T-dodo » Wed May 11, 2005 8:22 pm

Haitian-Americans in Miami are in mourning today. The doom and gloom were such in some Haitian radio stations that some hosts were openly questioning whether the community was worth fighting for, since they did not go to the polls yesterday to vote for the Haitian candidates. According to those same stations, there are 25,000 voters in North Miami, with Haitians controlling a majority in it. Only about 5,000 people went to vote. The winner got it with just over 3,600 votes, if my memory serves me right.

The campaign was very divisive. The Haitian community was outsmarted and split between three candidates: Jean Monestine, a former councilman and leader in the race who got about 1,800 votes, Dominique Simon, another Haitian with no chances of ever winning that post in this election - he got 85 votes according to the radio stations - and Danielle Beauvais, who got one hundred sixty something votes. Kevin Burns, a white political veteran in
the city won the elections. Jean Monestine was the front runner to replace Joe Celestin, the current mayor and the 1st Haitian-American to be mayor of a major US city. The Haitian-American leaders wanted to emulate the Cuban community who now controlled the Miami area. North Miami was the first step. But, it lasted only four years, even though two out of the council members remain Haitians, they no longer have the mayor position with its power. The minority white regained the control they lost four years ago.

I indicated earlier that the campaign was very divisive. But they were also some other major observations. We are repeating the same mistakes of the past – in Haiti – here in Miami. The minority took advantage of our division, even though the winner's total votes exceeded the sum of all the three Haitian candidates combined. Our division is caused by the same reasons why in Haiti we are having 100 candidates for president. Our would-be leaders continue to bypass the steps to the ladder of po
wer by trying to jump to the top instead of going through all the political steps and earned their respects and loyalty from the ranking files along the way; while ignoring and showing disrespect for those leaders who have been patient and earned their places in the shadow of current leaders. While Monestine was a city council under the mayorship of Joe Celestin, Beauvais and Simon had no political experience I remember. While they did not steal any significant votes from Jean Monestine, their constant attacks on him during the campaign discouraged people from going to vote and thus ceded the position of mayor to the minority who was mobilized in reversing that affront of having a Haitian as mayor in a major city of the USA. The minority painted the Celestin's administration, as the article reflected, as mismanaged, backward with banana republic undertones (my choice of words). To make matters worse, apparently, when the Latortue government came to Miami and requested to meet with Haitian leaders, Jean Monest
ine, as one of the leaders, apparently met them. The vocal pro-Lavalas majority in Miami did not appreciate that. Particularly, Simon, took advantage of that mistake to cool down any enthusiasm for voting Monestine. Moreover, the Haitian-Americans in Miami are divided between those who came by boat and those who came by plane, with the former consisting of the majority of the Miami Haitians. It is a political death sentence here to be seen as someone who has not been very active in defending immigration rights in their struggle to legitimize their status. Since Monestine belongs to the latter group – he also has a Master's Degree in Business – he was vulnerable from attacks from the Haitian candidates.

The other observation is our democratic immaturity and our lack of understanding of the limitations placed on public officials who are sometimes, during campaign, overzealous in promising things they have no authority to give. The majority was able to overblow every mistake made by the Celestin's admi
nistration and the expectation by those who supported his elections four years ago and who are now disenchanted because they did not get new jobs, and other political perks. The minority was also able to convince some of the electorate that voting Haitian was secondary to moral issues by using innuendos to score political points based on accusation of homosexual support with no valid foundation. The Jean Monestine's camp was slow reacting to the criticisms of lack of morality.

While leaders are pointing fingers today at those Haitian businesses who responded to the non-Haitian candidates' offer to purchase their public relations services, the lessons of today's defeat are drawn in the sorrow of the magnitude of the fiasco. Let's hope that this defeat will be used to strengthen the Haitian community in Miami.

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Post by Jonas » Sun May 15, 2005 1:39 pm

[quote]When the Latortue government came to Miami and requested to meet with Haitian leaders, Jean Monestime as one of the leaders, apparently met them.[/quote]

What was Monestime thinking?

Didn't he realize how "radio-active" the Latortue government is?

I don't know the particularities of North-Miamian politics; but I would dare say that the Haitian community of that city, by staying home, had given some proof of maturity, not the contrary.

In New York, no matter who you are, if you are a politician running for office and you are perceived by the Jewish community to be against the interests of Israel, YOU ARE DOOMED.

It is the same thing in Massachusets (particularly Boston). If you are perceived to be in the "wrong side" in the crisis in Northern Ireland, forget it!

This is politics at the gut level, and here is hope that people like Jean Monestime have learned their lesson.


Post by T-dodo » Thu Jun 16, 2005 12:11 pm

[quote]I don't know the particularities of North-Miamian politics; but I would dare say that the Haitian community of that city, by staying home, had given some proof of maturity, not the contrary.[/quote]


I wonder if that attidute is not at the basis of the presence of foreigners in Haiti now. What I mean is the attitude that rather than letting the Haitian opposition wins an argument - after all this is temporary due to term limit - let's allow a foreigner wins it. This way we and our Haitian opponents win and have nothing.

I cannot see how by allowing a non-Haitian to win at the expense of a Haitian our community benefits of anything. For one thing, it will not contribute to bringing Aristide back to Haiti. The issues are unrelated. It does not contribute to unite the Haitian community in Miami. It does not bring respect from other groups in Miami. In fact, it shows us very divided an
d unable to fight for common goals.

At the same time, the negatives are overwhelming. The Haitian community lost some control of a decision making process affecting their lives in a city that is in majority Haitian. The control of city hall has made some jobs available to Haitians that will put other groups first in the line now to get those jobs. The loss creates a perception of weakness that makes us subject to fight fights in the future that are unnecessary, as other groups beleive we cannot unite for a common cause. The biggest debate last year in Miami among Haitians was whether to name a street after a Haitian. With that loss, we disappear on the radar screen. The Haitian control of the city politics created at least an illusion that our representation was becoming commensurate with our numbers in the population. We are now back to square one. We currently have for the first time in Florida two members of congress from Haitian descent in the State. This loss may affect them in a way that can pre
vent them from maintaining the seats when they are up for reelection.

Our destructive politics, still untolerable against another group, should not be applied when one of us is facing another Haitian and somebody from another group. Like they say in the US: "All local politics should stop at the border." We should first protect what we have and then try to improve on it. We should not try to improve by destroying what we already acquired so hard and let somebody else take the place.

What happened in North Miami was not a display of Haitian's political maturity. It was rather a display of political ignorance and underscores why there is a mess in our mother country today.

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Post by Jonas » Sat Jun 18, 2005 11:15 am

[quote]Politics ends at the water's edge [/quote]

Go tell that to the Cuban communities of Miami and Jersey City.

Go tell it to the Irish communities.

Tell it to the Jewish communities.

Politics in their country of origin, or the country of origin of their ancestors, was the cement which keeps or kept them together, and permitted them to ascend to the position of power, reached by them.

The Jews of the upper East side of Manhattan may look down their noses at the Hassidim of Williamsburg of New York; but oh boy, if they perceived anyone is out to breach the interests of Israel in any way, look out.

For decades, the Irish politicians of New York had to prove their pro Irish-Independence and anti-British credentials before aspiring to represent the Irish community.

Eamon de Valera, the first prime minister and President of independent Ireland, was born in New York City in 1882.
He was able to raise 5 millions dollars (maybe more than 100 million dollars in today's currency) in the different Irish communities of the United States, to pursue the Irish War of Independence.
I can go on and on.

To come back to the Haitian community of North Miami and Little Haiti :

Their relatives are the ones suffering from the policies of Latortue and his elitist friends.

Their relatives are the ones who are dying; they are the ones whose policies of Latortue and his 184's friends are trying to marginalize and worse.

I guarantee you that the next time around, a politician aspiring to represent them won't make googoo eyes to Latortue and his ilk, or the people he represents.

This has nothing to do with Aristide or his prospective return.


Post by T-dodo » Sat Jun 18, 2005 3:20 pm


[quote][quote]Politics ends at the water's edge[/quote][/quote]

The closest I come to your quote was:"All LOCAL politics should stop at the BORDER." Here, local and border have a broader meaning that is not reflected in your quote in the sense that you don't make alliance with foreigners against your own group to take revenge for your local politics. "Local" also qualifies fights within your own group. You and I have no disagreement on the fact that the lives and politics of a diaspora (Cubans, Irishes, people of jewish religion, etc., and any other groups in the same situation for that matter) tend to be driven by their love for their country of origin.

Second, my response was to your stated maturity of Miami Haitian voters. Your reply here just supp
orted how angry they are when a candidate for office of haitian origin does not support or respect their views of the political fights in Haiti. You and I have no disagreement on that. In fact, it is not only haitian political candidates that endured their wrath, non-haitians do as well. Ask the Bush brothers about it! Our only disagreement is whether their action against Monestine proved they had political maturity.

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