The unofficial results are in from Haiti’s March 20th run-off presidential election and it looks like Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly has secured the necessary percentage of votes in order to become that country’s next leader. The president-elect has already sent out a conciliatory gesture of Haitian unity by inviting Jean-Bertrand Aristide and Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, both recently returned to Haiti from exile, to his inauguration. The former singer received support from musician (and would-be candidate) Wyclef Jean, and his Fugees bandmate Pras, during the election.
“For me, Mr. Martelly is a clear departure from the status quo … a man with a vision for the future of Haiti, who listens to young voices,” said Jean, whose own bid to run for the Haitian presidency was blocked on ineligibility grounds.
President-elect Martelly also seems very friendly to, and supportive of, the Vodou community in Haiti. Early on Pras noted that Martelly had the support of the “voodoo guys” in Haiti, and one of Martelly’s closest advisors and supporters in Haiti has been Richard Auguste Morse, a former musician and businessman who was initiated as a Vodou Houngan (priest) in 2002. In a recent interview with AllHipHop.com, Martelly made explicit Vodou’s important cultural and fiscal role in Haiti’s future.
“Even though the country is predominantly Christian, we need to accept voodoo as part of our culture, for example. It’s a very mysterious thing. People tend to want to learn more about it. And we need to utilize it within the tourism industry. There is a thing called “The Ceremony at Bois Caïmans,” which was the ceremony that started the slave revolt that lead to Haiti’s independence. We should have, like a Broadway show so people all over the world could come and see “La Ceremonie du Bois Caïmans.” We need to exploit these things, we need to exploit our history and our past because it’s a great past! It’s like we don’t know who we are. We need to restore pride, and for this, we can’t do it alone.”
However, the candidacy and election of Martelly hasn’t come without controversy, many have accused him of being a “stealth Duvalierist,” though supporters claim too much is being made of those connections.
“You have to take [the friendship with Michel Francois] out of the political context,” says Gesner Champagne, a childhood buddy who married Martelly’s wife’s sister. “You might like the conversation you have with that person. You might like the good time you have with that person. It doesn’t have to be political. You just like the guy.”
What is clear is that Martelly has had political ambitions for some time, and now they are realized. Whether he becomes a positive change-agent from outside the fractured political system, or has “the makings of an autocrat,” remains to be seen.