Mysterious yet funny, serious yet a bit comic!
The world of Jean-Robert Lafortune is so full of passion, drama and action, once you enter it, you will not want to leave
it. The info in this site will give you a brief summary about his bio and some bit and pieces of his memoires.
Jean-robert Lafortune is the Chairman of the Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition, an immigrant advocacy group based in Miami
since 1997. He is well known whithin his community as a consensus builder who promotes dialogue, mutual understanding
and tolerance among the MIami's disparate ethnic groups. For the past 5 years he had become one of the most active advocates
in the South Florida area for the rights of immigrants to participate fully and be equal partner in government policy and
decision. He has been lately a fervent advocate for Haitian-Americans to be self-governed in Miami-Dade by leading
a movement of "Fair Representation for Minorities" in Dade County. He and members of different organizations, after
lenghty statiscal studies had introduced the novel concept of increasing the size of the County Commission in order to allow
an access seat for where Haitian-Americans can have the opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice.
This movement was born out of the tactic by local politicians
to break a community of over 200,000 into 4 commission districts in order to protect re-election
of incumbents through the redistricting process in 2001. Redistricting in Dade County happened every 10 years, to correct
the wrong, the Community had to wait for 10 more years. By putting the issue in the public domain for discussion, many
people are expecting that one way or another, Haitian-Americans in the near future is bound to have their own represenation
ay County Hall. In his bid for fair represenation, Lafortune gained the support of the American Civil Liberties Union,
the Advancement Project in Washington DC, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights under Law in Washington DC, the Southwest
Voter Registration Project in San Antonio- Texas, the Willy Velasquez Institute in Los Angeles, the Miami-Dade NAACP, the
Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition, the Haitian-American Political Action Committee and...
Although some has perceived this move as isolationist,
Mr. Lafortune persists that in a County where about 15% of the population is of Haitian Nationals and the local government
seems to be in violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and given the Haitian community is grossly marginalized, it
was important for someone to put a challenge before the local politicians.
On December 10, 2001, he introduced a formal request
before the Miami-Dade County Charter Ad-Hoc Committee to increase the number of commission districts from 13 to 15 in order
to have a commission which really reflect the ethnic diversity of its population and provide fair representation to other
If the majority of the commissioners
had voted for the plan so voters could have an opportunity in the referendum to express whether or not they agree to change
the size of their government in the 2002 referendum through a charter review, the people very likely would
have voted yes for fair representation.
On June 4, 2002, several african-american commissioners
refuse to endorse the proposed plan and voted down the initiative but grassroots organizations within the African - American
Community and the hispanic community continue to lend their support to the effort. Recently, the Chair
of the Commission, the only African-American supporting the idea of Fair Representation had renewed her commitment to
bring the debate on the frontline for further discussion.
In December 2003, one Haitian-American candidate
challenged the African-American incumbent in district-II for the County Seat. The incumbent almost went in a run
off against a political neophyte with limited finance and name recognition.
Mr. Lafortune has engaged as well
the State of Florida to expand its political space to accomodate more Haitian-Americans in the State Legislature. In
this context, he had testified before the State of Florida Redistricting Committee in October 2001 to urge lawmakers to give
some attention to the Haitian Plight by redesign the district boundaries so that in this district, Haitian-American candidates
can be competitive and have an opportunity to win. He had met with several key Florida legislators in the
republican party serving in the State redistricting committee to create an access an access seat for Haitian
nationals. As a result of redistricting, in district 104, today, one Haitian-American candidate was able to win this
district in the 2002 election. Now two Haitian-Americans serve in the Florida State legislature.
Mr. Lafortune is
credited as being the one to provide strategic leadership to coordinate a haitian grassroots movement in 1998 which culminated
with the passage of a landmark legislation in the U.S Congress in October 1998. In March 1998, he coordinated with several
organizations in MIami and around the country a major national protest of about 20,000 Haitians to demand that Congress
and the Clinton Administration to pass the Haitian Refugee Immigrant Fairness Act in order to prevent the deportation
of 50,000 Haitian Refugees looking for political Asylum in the United States due to political turmoil in their homeland.
In October 21, 1998, after much heated dispute between the Clinton Administration and the Republican Leadershio, 50,000
Haitian Nationals were granted the opportunity to apply for their permanent residency.
As co-founder and chair/president of the Haitian-American
Grassroots Coalition, he helped position the Haitian Community in Florida in building strategic partnership with other ethnic
groups for mutual benefits. Having organized a major national rally on the steps of the U.S Congress in March 1998,
he was able to bring Haitians all over the nation to protest against unfair treatment of Haitian Refugees by the U.S Government.
But still, Haitian refugees yearn to be free in the land of the free and home of the brave.
Back in October 1991, Mr.
Lafortune through his effort, as the Spokesman for the Ligue Humanitaire for Haiti, conducted a fundarising event that netted
over $1,000,000.00 in in-kind donations like medicine, medical supply to assist wounded civilians and indigents who fall victim
of political strife at the time of the coup d'etat against President Jean-Betrand Aristide. In this mission of mercy to save
lives in Port-au-Prince, he almost lost his when military thugs stop his car during a curfew in the capital. He coordinated
this operation with the Physicians for Humanity in Boston, the International Red Cross, the U.S Ambassy in Port-au-Prince,
and several local Haitian organizations in South Florida. Since that period, he has not set foot in his homeland.
Even far away, he is still advocating for repatriated Haitian Refugees who are being persecuted by the Aristide Government
in Haiti. Example, the case of two refugees who came in the October 29, 2002 boat, an event televevized accoss the globe,
who were among 19 deported by the U.S Government to Haiti. Lafortune was able to request the U.S Ambassy to initiate
an investigation on the matter. The struugle for fair treatment continues, and he will not rest untill there is
fairness for all.
In the context of Haiti's Bicentennial, Jean-Robert Lafortune is planning to publish a document highlighting the contribution
of Haitian nationals in shaping America in the beginning of the 19 century during the time of the Haitian Revolution such
the Louisiana Purchase, the U.S Civil War, the presence of the first catholic church, the policy and politics of President
George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson vis-a-vis Haiti..
The Haitian Contribution to free Latin America. The Haitian Revolution and the rise of Cuba as the number one
exporter of sugar cane and coffee in the world.
This is not me. Just come back to this page if you like what you see.