The value of diversification, Haitian style

The confirmation that senior Haitian officials hold foreign nationality lends growing credence to a leading senator’s charge that Haitian President Michel Martelly is a U.S. citizen and hence illegally in power.

Two weeks ago, Sen. Moïse Jean Charles submitted what he called “irrefutable” evidence to a special Senate Select Committee that Martelly and 38 other high government officials hold dual, and sometimes triple, nationalities.

On Jan. 24, Sen. Joseph Lambert, the Commission’s president, announced in a press conference that the Commission has confirmed dual nationality for two of the 10 cases it has investigated to date. However, Lambert has so far refused to release the names of dual citizenship officials, saying his commission would proceed “impartially” and “without emotion.” He said arrangements have been made to continue the nationality investigations overseas.

The Senate inquiry threatens to create a political crisis which may force President Martelly, his Prime Minister Garry Conille, and other ministers to step down. If the charges against him prove true, it means that candidate Martelly lied to election officials about holding dual citizenship, which current Haitian law explicitly forbids for a high elected official.

Here is more.  There is the small matter of the Haitian constitution:

Commission member Sen. Steven Irvenson Benoît said that Haiti’s 1987 Constitution prohibits any foreign national not only from becoming president or prime minister, but also from acting as a minister or secretary of state. The Constitution’s Article 56 stipulates: “An alien may be expelled from the territory of the Republic if he becomes involved in the political life of the country, or in cases determined by law.

Michel Martelly (“Sweet Mickey”) spent so much time in the United States, often giving concerts, that for years I simply assumed he held dual citizenship.  Until recently, I had not known about this provision of the Haitian constitution.  What is the old Haitian saying?:

“The constitution is paper, the bayonet is steel.”

Or something like that.

Comments

A Nigerian Professor always says some countries are just determined to be poor.
You'd think Haiti's priority would be you know, focusing on fighting poverty, economic growth and other 'trivial' stuff like that.

A country where 4 out of 5 people escape poverty by leaving the country is discriminating against its own people because they have a second passport.

Wonderment

Perhaps all the people with those priorities keep leaving.

What is the largest number of nationalities a person has been able to hold simultaneously? I had never heard of a triple nationality before.

I know someone who's got 3 although I dont think this is legal.
He's African but has worked for a couple of decades in the US and the UK obtaining both citizenships in the process.
He's now CEO of his firm in Asia.

Trouble is travelling to his home country in Africa (which he does regularly) with a foreign passport is a right pain and is an invitation to unnecesary harassment not to talk of the painful process of obtaining his own country's visa on his foreign passport.

So he keeps his African passport strictly for travelling to his country and nothing else.

No idea what the actual record is, but a friend of mine (dual US/Australian citizenship) once convincingly argued that it was possible, under ideal circumstances, to claim citizenship in ten nations at birth. You have to be born in Northern Ireland to a Jewish mother and a Buddhist father of two different nationalities, with grandparents of four still-different Eastern European nationalities.

This appears to be no longer possible, as Thailand doesn't give out citizenship to any Buddhist who asks any longer, and Ireland stopped offering citizenship to anyone born on the Emerald Isle in 2005. I believe there are still plenty of Eastern European countries that extend jus sanguinis on the basis of a single grandparent, in hopes of recovering some of the communist-era diaspora, so eight nationalities at birth should still be doable. Nine if we can exploit some other border squabble now that Northern Ireland is out of the game.

Maybe for some nations the jus sanguinis citizenship offer is conditional on renouncing any other citizenships? Jus sanguinis by itself may not be sufficient.

The Eastern European nations don't seem to be doing that, for fairly obvious reasons. "New and improved Poland, just like your grandfather's Poland but now with 98% less communism!" can be a somewhat appealing sales pitch to prospective high-value "immigrants", but rather less so if it requires they burn their bridges w/re living in the stable, prosperous Western democracies they settled in a generation or two back. If your grandfather was a Pole, you can have dual Polish/American citizenship and see if 21st century Poland works for you.

What happens when they find out you have Polish/American/Austrailian/Slovakian/Bulgarian/Rumanian/Sudanese/SouthSudanese/Israeli citizenship, I suspect they don't have the laws to cover that.

You touched on a bit of historic linkage, although inadvertently:

Martelly is more than likely of Polish decent, and that is fine by the constitution. If one looks at genealogy and the features of Martelly one can see the obvious blood line of a mixed race, and it ‘could’ be Polish.
“Miffed off with fighting those who were fighting for freedom (like themselves), the remaining Polish soldiers decided to throw off the yoke of their French masters and joined Jean-Jacques Dessalinesin the Haitian struggle for independence living to see a free Haiti. The indigenous peoples were so enamoured by their Polish brothers-in-arms that they included them in the Haitian Constitution of 1805 in which it was stated in Articles 12 and 13 that no white man may hold land on Haiti apart from the Germans (who had a small community there) and the Polanders (Poles).”
http://uzar.wordpress.com/2010/01/24/lost-polish-tribe-on-haiti/
Interesting read…

Some countries prohibit dual nationality, others explicitly permit it, and some are agnostic (such as the US). As long as you follow the rules for each country, there isn't some worldwide rule that says you can only have X nationalities.

The US doesn't care anymore if you get another nationality (as long as it isn't an enemy of the US). Countries like Germany allow you if you get permission beforehand, or if it was due to birth. Canada doesn't care. In the EU, you can get another EU nationality without losing your old EU one. Some countries like Turkey and India are super hardcore and make it very hard to have other nationalities.

How many nationalities/passports has President Obama held?

It is nobody's business!

Is a person who holds Haitian and (say) American nationality considered an "alien" under Haitian law? Absent such a definition, if that clause were in the U.S. Constitution, it would be interpreted to allow dual citizens to hold office, provided the law allowed people to hold dual citizenship in general.

I always thought "citizenship" was a distinct concept from "nationality." Citizenship is just the government's criteria for membership in the State; nationality refers to ethnic ancestry. At least, that's how I've always understood the terms.

Nationality, when used by governments (such as in the Haitian constitution) has a more specific meaning than "membership in an ethnic group", though I'm not sure it means exactly the same as "citizenship".

What proportion of major political donors in the U.S., such as Sheldon Adelson's wife and Haim Saban, are dual citizens?

It matters, because? I didn't get the implication.

Because it's generally not a good idea to let foreign agents influence national policy. In a sensible country, it's a prosecutable offense.

Name some sensible nations where a dual citizen, making a voluntary donation is a prosecutable offence.

Well ya got me there. I suppose there are tons of countries out there where they don't mind dual citizens paying politicians to influence national policy. India, for example, would surely have no problem with a dual Pakistani-Indian citizen making donations to politicians who promised to work for ceding disputed territory to Pakistan.

Well it sure would even if he did not donate. India does not allow dual citizenship. If you did hold dual passports that's where your troubles start.

You've made my point: a "sensible" nation-state would not allow dual citizenship. There are a couple of conclusions to draw from this. One is that nation-states' citizenship/immigration barriers are externalities that should be abolished. Immigration would then be a matter of contract and there would be only three classes of people in a given area: owners, licensees and trespassers. Of course, at that point the nation-state, and all the tax structure, national armies (which serve mainly to protect the government's taxing monopoly), transfer payments, deficit finance, 'civil rights', etc., would be displaced by market forces. People would be free to set their own criteria for residency and sojourning in a geographic area, and could maintain their nation's territorial and cultural integrity however and to whatever extent they saw fit.

I get the feeling that's where a lot of libertarians start couging politely and saying, "Well, I wouldn't go that far."

I once said in another venue that the US is taking over the world by putting Americans in charge. For example:

The Prime Minister of Greece, until recently, was an American citizen, born raised and educated in the US.

The provisional president or whatever the title is, of Libya is a US citizen.

I think the prime minister of Italy is an US citizen

I would have to go look it up but I seem to recall identifying 4-5 presidents/PMs of countries that were US citizens. Not including Haiti. I had not heard of Martellys citizenship until I read this post.

I would also point out that while the words "national" and "citizen" are used interchangeably, there is a distinction in the US. Samoans are "US Nationals" but not "US Citizens" under US law.

Comments for this post are closed