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Jean-Robert Lafortune - MS - A Slice of the Haitian-American Experience - His world, passion and struggle!
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Jean-Robert Lafortune is part of the essence of the Haitian Experience in America. A look inside his world may cause some discomfort for some and admiration for otherd. His experience as a polical analyst in the 1980's on WDNA-88.9 F.M for a long period of time and the producer of a weekly television show broadcast on the Haitian Television Network called "In Miami's Back Yard" have greatly contributed to his persona as a public figure in South Florida's Haitian Community. As the former Vice-President of the Haitian-American Broadcasting Corporation (HABC), Mr. Lafortune in collaboration with others has contributed also to strategic initiatives to raise the level of radio programming in the Haitian Community of South Florida by coordinating media training and seminars for local radio hosts.

He has been quoted on several occasions by the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, Washington Times, Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France Presse, the Sun-Sentinel, the Miami Herald, CNN, CBS and New Times Magazine and several local televisions programs on issues related to Haitian Refugees, election and the U.S Census.

His advice is sought at times by South Florida's Congressional leaders such as Senator Graham, Congresswomen Carrie P. Meek and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the U.S Ambassador to Haiti and the State Department and Governor Jeb Bush.

Jean-Robert Lafortune a different style of leadership

This is the page where I'll describe myself in more detail.

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.

Currently, 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 groups.
 
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.   

 

A woman mountain biking; Actual size=180 pixels wide

Hello internaut,

This is not me.  Just come back to this page if you like what you see.

Favorites

Here's a list of some of my favorite movies:;br>
Madmax, Matrix, Contact, Star Trekk

Here's a list of some of my favorite music:

Nirvana, Frank Sinatra, Ibrahim Ferrer