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Haiti: Election Threats

The long-awaited Haitian election is finally scheduled to take place on March 20; the most recent political controversy involves presidential candidate Michel Martelly‘s threats to the media, accompanied by general references to grabbing power via “the streets”. Netizens are keeping a close check on developments…

welcome2haiti posted video of Martelly, who is more popularly known as “Sweet Micky”, actually making the threats [Fr] in response to a journalist's question about his alleged unpaid debts to banks in Miami.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNfQ6z8T4yk

Martelly basically says, “Bobby, let him ask the question, the people are in the streets, the people are outside in the streets.”

Some time passes, after which he brandishes his arm, saying:

A la guerre comme à la guerre!

Do at war as you do at war!

Dessalines’ Children was on top of the story right away, republishing the official response from the Haitian press and posting a video of comments made by former Fugees bandmember and Martelly supporter Pras Michel, who basically says [Cr] that Haiti will burn if “Sweet Micky”‘s presidential bid is unsuccessful:

Nap boule peyi-a…

We will burn the country…

The blogger comments on the clip:

If this does not illustrate the low point of Haitian political history, I don’t know what does.

Sitwayen Pou Mirlande, a blog in support of Martelly's competition, posts the same video clip, saying:

Apparently a tendency to psychological derangement and a propensity for violent outbursts is rampant in the Hot Pink campaign. Cf: Wyclef, Sean Penn and all the other American showbiz has-beens seeking to gain publicity on the back of earth-quake ridden Haiti.

Has Haiti not seen enough destruction since January 12? Can these THUGGISH, drugged up destruction fanatics implement a RECONSTRUCTION plan? Be the judge…

Haitian presidential candidate Michel Martelly in front of thousands of supporters at a rally in capital Port au Prince. Image by Jose Guzman, copyright Demotix (25/11/2010).

Haitian presidential candidate Michel Martelly in front of thousands of supporters at a rally in capital Port au Prince. Image by Jose Guzman, copyright Demotix (25/11/2010).

The blog goes on to link to another story that paints Martelly in an unfavourable light, explaining:

During an interview with well-known Dominican investigative reporter Nuria Piera, Michel Martelly presented his vision of the future of Haitian-Dominican relations and managed, in less than two minutes, to show exactly why he would be the wrong person to formulate Haiti’s foreign policy if he were elected President.

@ZoGrann has also been watching the activity on Twitter, noting with interest the tweets of @carelpedre, a popular Haitian radio host who has openly campaigned for Martelly.

Meanwhile, three Manigat supporters have been brutally killed and tensions are rising, leading Toussaint on Haiti to surmise that it's been a “bad week for Michel ‘Sweet Micky’ Martelly”. The blogger cites everything from the border fiasco with the DR to Jean-Bertrand Aristide's possible return as potential stumbling blocks for the presidential hopeful, saying:

These incidents do not bode well for Martelly…he should be gaining, not losing momentum. It seems that Martelly's camp is aware of this and are reacting badly. His campaign has taken a defensive stance, with several advisers and supporters claiming that their polls show that he has a double digit lead and that the only way he could lose is by foul play from the opposition. Some have even advocated for violence if he loses.

This kind of rhetoric disappointing. It is indicative of the mindset that continues to stall Haiti's democratic process. Granted, Haiti has a history of fraudulent elections but it does not sound like Martelly's camp really believe in the process. Why participate in an election if you will only recognize the results if you win. It's true that many people are excited about Martelly's candidacy, especially in the urban areas. However, nothing is a fait accompli in an election. The winner will be the person who receives the most votes on election day, not the person who attracts the largest crowd at rallies. I really hope that the tone of the election takes a positive turn soon.

Throwing Down The Water adds her own (non-Haitian) perspective:

Sweet Mickey gets a lot of attention and attracts youthful masses; given that Haiti is a country full of youthful masses, this means a sure victory to some. And public discussions also seem to come with a lot of peer pressure – who doesn't want to root for the captain of the football team? For the smooth-talking class president? It's the cool thing to do.

But Madame Manigat stands solidly next to the pink tornado – seeming quiet, smart and responsible. While the campaign for Martelly feels like the morning after an open bar serving nothing but cosmopolitans, the campaign for Manigat feels like drinking from a fresh cut coconut after a sweaty hike: refreshing, natural, portioned in a tenable, sustainable way.

And if there is one thing that I have learned while in Haiti, it is that this is a country of independently-minded people. You might be hearing one thing in public, but you had better believe there is a lot more going on behind the scenes.

Toussaint on Haiti maintains that even with its controversy and its flaws, this run-off election on March 20 “is the country’s best hope to move forward.” The world is waiting to see.

The thumbnail image used in this post, “Michel Martelly makes an appearance at the Lycee Petionville polling station; photo by Rozanna Fang” is courtesy mediahacker and used under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) Creative Commons License. Visit mediahacker's flickr photostream.

5 comments

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