On Thursday, September 22, 2011, I went to York College to hear Michel Martelly, Haiti’s president. Martelly was in town to attend the annual meetings at the U.N. Before Mr. Martelly got up to speak, Wyclef Jean was one of the many who had a chance to voice their support of the president.
Wyclef united himself with the president by stating that his group, the Fugees, was a response to how Haitians were viewed and treated in America, primarily, the northeast. Wyclef noted that Martelly is the first Haitian president that has had such international popularity. He supports this by referring to the many interviews that Martelly has had (Martelly has appeared on major news networks). Wyclef is currently serving as ambassador at large for Martelly’s administration. In this capacity, he serves as the president’s primary international fund raiser.
Martelly got up to speak at about 8:00 pm. He wanted those in attendance to know that rebuilding Haiti was a process that is better done with much patience and care. He has no plans to rush through his projects, but to make sure that they are done well. In his own words, Martelly stated: “I did not come to be popular, I was already popular. Now the popularity will decline.”
Martelly compares Haiti’s situation to a profound sickness. A sickness, he says, that reaches to the bones. His method of restoration focuses on education, the decentralization of Port-au-Prince (licenses and passports can now be done in other major Haitian cities), security, the building and resettling of areas torn by the earthquake, superior health care system, and tourism (the bread and butter of Caribbean nations). He believes that what will further aid in the success of these plans is the restoration of Haitians’ self confidence in their leaders and in themselves.
All that being said, I found Martelly to be a sincere individual. I believe that he really intends to do what is good for the country. Though the presidency requires him to change a bit of himself, he doesn’t want to go to the extent where he would let his position influence his good intentions. Sometimes power corrupts, but Martelly seems determined not to fall into that category.
What is in the minds of some, however, is Martelly’s past. Martelly has never been a moral leader. This has led some to believe that he is not fit to be president. However, the people have voted. His past was not enough to deter them from trying something new. They were tired of the usual politicians so they chose someone cut from a different cloth. You know what? He might just do!
I’m in no way stating that Martelly’s past is anything less than disturbing. However, I do think that it is important to make an assessment of the man’s overall personality and sincerity. What he was doing is considered morally wrong by many, but the difference between them and him is probably that he was doing it in the public eye. Are many people that much different? I highly doubt it. Let’s see what he does.
Martelly’s way of responding to his critics is by differentiating between Michel Martelly and Sweet Mickey. He plans to show exactly how different they are in December when Sweet Mickey will perform in order to raise funds for education. Martelly stated that though Mickey will be performing the concert, he will only respond as Martelly the next morning when questioned by reporters. That is to say that the events that took place the previous night would have nothing to do with Mr. Martelly.
If the man wants to be himself, I say let him be. What should be more important to observers is how his policies are helping Haiti and its restoration. A counter-argument would be that how he is viewed will affect his policies. However, I would argue that there are many that appeared presidential, but didn’t do much to restore the nation. Why not look for a messiah amongst the chief of sinners?
- APNewsBreak: Haiti’s president plans new army (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Haiti’s Martelly: From Pop Star To President (npr.org)
- APNewsBreak: Haiti’s president plans new army (sfgate.com)