Monday, September 24, 2018
Politics

HCC grad turned Haitian mayor discusses what Trump policy means for his village

Nicolas Victorin has accomplished a lot for his Haitian village of Pignon since he was elected mayor nearly two years ago, thanks in part to connections made while living in Tampa from 2006 to 2010.

Through funding from Tampaís Debartolo Development, investment adviser Brent Wertz and mission Three Strand Cord, for example, Victorin, 31, has started a community radio station, constructed a school, purchased goats for start-up farms and founded a small business micro-loan program for women.

But Victorin ó who earned an associate degree in electronics engineering from Hillsborough Community College ó says a village that operates on a monthly budget of $5,000, has no running water and unreliable electricity is not prepared for the return of nearly 1,000 of its 42,000 residents living in the United States under Temporary Protected Status.

Who is Nicolas Victorin? Meet the HCC grad whose Tampa contacts aid him as mayor in Haiti

The Trump administration announced two weeks ago that it is ending the TPS program, which has allowed some 59,000 Haitians to live and work in the United States since a 2010 earthquake devastated their home country.

These Haitians will have to leave the United States by 2019.

Pignon, an agricultural village located in northern Haiti and about 100 miles from the heart of the 2010 earthquake that struck near the capital city of Port-au-Prince, was mostly spared from the destruction but not the economic aftershocks that followed.

The Tampa Bay Times interviewed Victorin over email to get his assessment from Haiti.

What is your reaction to the end of the TPS program for Haitians?

This program provides safe conditions to those Haitians unable to securely return due to ongoing violence, political unrest, the very high unemployment rate and natural environment disasters. There must be political stability in Haiti for the country to start its real recovery and change the situation of the people.

What is one of your tougher challenges in Pignon?

The housing situation. We have some good concrete homes in the center of the city. However, for most of the countryside, people are living in mud homes that have palm tree roofs. During the raining seasons, most of them must leave their homes and go to stay in a secure place where it is not leaking.

How will your village be affected if you lose money sent by countrymen living in the United States under the TPS program?

The economy of Pignon depends on agriculture, raising animals and people living abroad who send dimes to their family. The Pignon beneficiaries of the TPS program left behind children, parents and other close relatives who they care for. Every month, thousands of dollars are sent by that diaspora to relatives back home.

Chalvat Alce is a great example. He graduated from high school and went to technical school and graduated as an electrician, but unfortunately employment is not something that is guaranteed in Haiti. But he later benefited from the TPS program to go to Florida.

He settled himself there, saved some money and now he is responsible for taking care of his widow mother, his sister, the boy he left back home and other members of his relatives. He sends them money regularly, food, clothes and supports them if there is need to go to the doctor, pay for a funeral, etc.

Imagine if he is kicked back to Haiti in 2019?

How do you think your villagers living in the United States will adjust to returning?

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Unemployment is as high as 70 percent and the minimum wage is less than $5 per day.

There are not enough structured apartments ones could rent easily in Haiti, electricity is only for a few hours a day where the structures exist and there is no running water in most of the cities.

Imagine the cultural shock that will be for those people who are so used to the lifestyle in the U.S.?

How can people reach you if they want to assist in your villageís ventures?

They can email me at [email protected]

This conversation was edited for brevity and clarity

Contact Paul Guzzo at [email protected] Follow @PGuzzoTimes.

Comments
Rod Rosenstein, who had been overseeing Russia probe, has offered to resign

Rod Rosenstein, who had been overseeing Russia probe, has offered to resign

WASHINGTON - Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein has told White House officials he is willing to resign in the wake of revelations he once suggested secretly recording the president, but itís unclear if the resignation has been accepted, according...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Solar farm land price is $6.8 million, including $4.4 million to state Sen. Wilton Simpson

Solar farm land price is $6.8 million, including $4.4 million to state Sen. Wilton Simpson

Tampa Electric Co. has said its Mountain View Solar project near Dade City represented a $75 million investment in alternative energy. The investing began in earnest last week when the utility paid more than $6.8 million for 382 acres in the rural co...
Published: 09/24/18
US considers limit on green cards for immigrants on benefits

US considers limit on green cards for immigrants on benefits

SAN DIEGO — The Trump administration has proposed rules that could deny green cards to immigrants if they use Medicaid, food stamps, housing vouchers and other forms of public assistance.Federal law already requires those seeking green cards t...
Published: 09/23/18
Christine Blasey Ford reaches deal to  testify at Kavanaugh hearing

Christine Blasey Ford reaches deal to testify at Kavanaugh hearing

The woman who has accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers has committed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday, her lawyers said Sunday. The lawyers said some details — including whe...
Published: 09/23/18

AP source: Kavanaugh, Ford agree to testify on Thursday

WASHINGTON ó Negotiators reached a tentative agreement Saturday for the Senate Judiciary Committee to hear testimony Thursday from Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault from decades ago, two...
Published: 09/22/18

Trump administration aims to sharply restrict new green cards for those on public aid

WASHINGTON ó Trump administration officials announced Saturday that immigrants who legally use public benefits like food assistance and Section 8 housing vouchers could be denied green cards under new rules aimed at keeping out people the administrat...
Published: 09/22/18
Dana Young, Janet Cruz spar over guns, schools, environment in crucial Senate race

Dana Young, Janet Cruz spar over guns, schools, environment in crucial Senate race

TAMPA ó During a showdown Friday in Floridaís most hotly contested state Senate race, Democratic challenger Janet Cruz launched fireworks at Dana Young over education funding, the environment and guns.Young, the Republican incumbent in District 18, r...
Published: 09/21/18
Drug bill canít undo damage

Drug bill canít undo damage

On Sept. 5, two months before Election Day where heís running for a seventh term, U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis filed a bill to clarify a 2016 law he co-sponsored that made it nearly impossible for the Drug Enforcement Administration to intercept suspiciou...
Published: 09/20/18
Updated: 09/23/18
Confederate group banned from Temple Terrace country club, may take legal action

Confederate group banned from Temple Terrace country club, may take legal action

TEMPLE TERRACE — After complaints from city residents, the Temple Terrace Golf & Country Club has notified the City Council that it will not rent space again to the Sons of Confederate Veterans for its annual banquet.The country clubȁ...
Published: 09/20/18
Carlton: Should felons who have done their time get to vote? Citizens of Florida, itís in your hands

Carlton: Should felons who have done their time get to vote? Citizens of Florida, itís in your hands

Itís not often that we citizens ó busy with work, paying the bills, living our lives ó find ourselves with the power to right a fundamental wrong.But here in Florida, weíre about to get that chance.On the November ballot ó among all those candidates ...
Published: 09/20/18