On the Trail with Michel Martelly: From Sweet Micky to Presidential Contender

Martelly campaigns in BostonMartelly campaigns in BostonWe know him best as “Sweet Micky”, a talented musician whose wild stage antics brought an element of shock to Haitian entertainment. In the late 1980s, he started out as any one of a number of notable Haitian talents and went simply by his name, Michel Martelly. Michel’s career began with the success of early releases with fun titles like, “Woule, Woule”, “Anba Rad La”, “The Sweetest” etc. However, real fame and international success came with the creation of a sub-identity “Sweet Micky”. It was the wild and uninhibited Micky that became a household name among Haitians. Sweet Micky’s irreverent style, controversial albums and frequent feuds with rival bands, made Michel Martelly wealthy and famous.

Martelly came into the Haitian music industry during turbulent times. In the early 1990s, the Island was in political free-fall after the ouster of the Duvalier regime. The populace had democratically elected a progressive yet controversial former priest, Jean Bertrand Aristide and within a year he was exiled by Haiti’s military. Haiti’s popular music Konpa, was struggling as a new generation preferred the sound of Zouk, which had its origins in Guadeloupe and Martinique. Michel Martelly’s act was one among a new generation of artists that met the challenge of Zouk by using technology to reduce the man-power it took to man live Konpa shows and moved its sound into the new digital format. Read more

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UN official: Resettlement program needed in Haiti

BOSTON (AP) — A United Nations refugee official says he hopes that a resettlement system develops soon to aid some Haitians who need protection and relocation.

Vincent Cochetel was recently appointed U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees' representative for the U.S. and the Caribbean. Cochetel was in Boston on Thursday, where he told The Associated Press that the Haitian resettlement system could help displaced earthquake victims who have recently become victims of sexual violence. Read more

Some US rebuilding money finally headed to Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE — The first portion of U.S. reconstruction money for Haiti is on its way more than seven months after it was promised to help the country rebuild from the Jan. 12 earthquake.

The U.S. government will transfer $120 million – about one-tenth of the total amount pledged – to the World Bank-run Haiti Reconstruction Fund in the next few days, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said.

``Having completed the process as outlined in the appropriation, we are now moving aggressively to commit that money to Haiti's reconstruction,'' Crowley said. Read more

Two Haitian-American teens killed on Dorchester street

Two young men of Haitian descent were found shot to death on the same Dorchester street this week. Emmanuel Louissaint, 17, of Brockton was found shot to death outside of 64 Mascot Street on Sunday morning around 1 a.m. He had been shot once in the upper chest. Two days later, on Tuesday morning, police were called to the driveway of 63 Mascot Street— right across the street from the scene of the earlier murder— where they discovered the body of 19 year-old Nervin Charlot. He was also shot, but it is not yet clear if he was murdered in the same incident that claimed the life of Louissaint. If he was shot on Sunday, his body lay undiscovered for more than two days. Charlot's death has now been officially classified a homicide, making him the city's 66th murder victim of 2010 to date.
More details on these homicides are available at the Reporter's sister paper, the Dorchester Reporter. Read more

The Last Swing of the Pendulum

Patrick SylvainPatrick Sylvain“Let us learn together and laugh together and work together and pray together, confident that in the end we will triumph together in the right.” — Jimmy Carter, Inaugural Address, January 20, 1977

All republics that embrace democracy as a form of political governance are constantly faced with a daunting challenge. They must determine how best to appease the desires, and address the needs of the people, within the boundaries of the evolving state so that all groups can be brought into the political sphere. In other words, these states must consistently meet the demands of the citizenry. Read more

Strong voice in Mass, struggles persist in Haiti

The fall brings many things to the Haitian community. A local election in which Mattapan residents, a huge contingent of whom are of Haitian descent, proved themselves to be a force at the polls. Governor Deval Patrick won a second term. He’ll have a chance to fulfill a campaign pledge to develop a comprehensive housing strategy for thousands of displaced Haitians in the commonwealth. Carlos Henriquez, a dedicated community advocate, succeeds the first Haitian-American elected official in the state Marie St. Fleur, to represent the 5th Suffolk district. Read more

Haiti's Flawed Elections: They Told Us So

Voices from across the political spectrum in both Haiti and the United States, joined by human rights groups, and most importantly, Haitian voters—have warned both Haitian and U.S. government that the deeply flawed elections in Haiti currently scheduled for November 28 risk putting the country into turmoil and endangering our investment in reconstruction. But both the U.S. and Haitian Administrations refuse to listen.

This month’s elections may be the most important in Haitian history. Voters will choose the entire House of Deputies for four years, a President for five years, and one-third of the Senate for six years. These officials will have the responsibility of guiding Haiti’s reconstruction for at least four years, which will require making many hard, important decisions that will shape Haitian society for decades. Read more

Who will be Haiti’s next president?

BHR 11-10BHR 11-10The date scheduled for the first round of Haiti’s presidential and parliamentary elections, November 28, is racing towards the island. Simultaneously Cholera is racing across the countryside in the Artibonite, the Central Plateau and beyond, and Hurricane Tomas raced up the Caribbean, lashing the South of the country and cutting off all towns below Leogane from the capital. The Provisional Electoral Council maintains that they are doing everything they can to prepare, and that they are moving ahead on schedule. But serious doubts have been raised about the timetable.

Even before these crises Haiti had many obstacles to legitimate and credible elections. The voter list has not been updated since 2005, so many people who lost their lives in the earthquake are still on the list, which could facilitate electoral fraud. Many Haitians are not registered to vote, or lost their identification cards in the earthquake. For months long lines have snaked out from the National Identification Offices as people tried to fix their paper work—though the lines continued even after the publication of the voter list, and many Haitians seek identity cards to go to the bank or to deal with the police, not just to vote. Read more

Wheelock College to host forum on Nov. 18

Wheelock College's International Education Week turns its focus on Haiti on Nov. 18 with a forum featuring the college's president, Jackie Jenkins-Scott and Carole Berotte-Joseph, president of MassBay Community College. They will share their reflections from a recent trip to Haiti. Moderated by Gisele Michel, Executive Director of Boston Center for Community Justice, the conversation will provide insight on challenges facing the country and opportunities to support rebuilding efforts. Read more

Haiti braces for Hurricane Tomas; evacuations underway

Confusion, fear as Haiti camps evacuate for storm
PORT-AU-PRINCE— For nearly 10 months, more than 1 million people in Haiti's earthquake camps have been walking a precarious line: Trying to get out and find good homes without losing their tents and the few possessions they still have.

Now a potential hurricane threatens to upend that careful balance. The Haitian<** government has called for the voluntary evacuation of all the quake zone's camps ahead of Friday's expected arrival of Tropical Storm Tomas, telling people who could find nowhere else to live to suddenly go find someplace else. Read more

Roxbury forum to focus on 'rise' of Haitians locally

The organization Discover Roxbury, along with the Haley House Bakery Café will host a speaker series event focused on the history of Haitian people in Roxbury on Wednesday, October 27 at 7 p.m.. The discussion will focus on the rise, growth and culture of Haitian-Americans in the city. Read more

Cholera outbreak worsens with at least 135 dead

Four candidates for governor commit to help displaced Haitians

GBIO forum brings candidates together: All four pledged to oppose ballot questions 2 & 3. Photo by Erik JacobsGBIO forum brings candidates together: All four pledged to oppose ballot questions 2 & 3. Photo by Erik JacobsGreater Boston religious leaders this week asked the four candidates for governor to pledge that, once in office, they will create a comprehensive dwelling strategy for Haitian refugees and advocate at the federal level for legal status that will allow these families to work. All four candidates – Gov. Deval Patrick, the Democratic incumbent, Republican challenger Charlie Baker, independent candidate Timothy Cahill, and Green Rainbow Party candidate Jill Stein – said “yes” at a Sunday forum at the Temple Israel of Boston. Read more

Delahunt, Lynch, Olver: Flawed Haiti election is a "recipe for disaster"

Forty-five members of Congress— including three delegates from Massachusetts—sent Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton a strongly-worded letter this month expressing deep concern over the upcoming November presidential election in Haiti and the exclusion of more than a dozen political parties— including Fanmi Lavalas— from the ballot.

Three of Massachusetts’ 10 members of Congress — Stephen Lynch, William Delahunt, and John Olver— signed the Oct. 7 letter authored by California’s Rep. Maxine Waters. They also raise concerns about Haitian voters having access to voting cards and polling stations, particularly those voters displaced by the Jan. 12 earthquake. Read more

AFAB honors two outstanding Haitian women on Saturday

AFAB fundraiserAFAB fundraiserThe Association of Haitian Women in Boston— AFAB— celebrates its 14th annual fundraising dinner at the First Parish Church/MeetingHouse Hil Read more

Erick Jean remembered fondly as mentor to city youth

Erick JeanErick JeanErick Jean, a Haitian-American mentor and dedicated community servant, passed away on September 15, 2010 at age 48. Jean was a graduate of Boston Trade School and a college graduate of Northeastern University. While enrolled at Northeastern, Erick pledged Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated, Chi Chapter. He remained very active and worked hard to represent the fraternity’s mission and values throughout his community service.

Erick earned his law degree from Suffolk University Law School and became the first Haitian-American to have a law firm in the downtown Boston area. He practiced law for nine years. He started a law firm, Jackson and Jean, one of the premier African-American real estate law firms, servicing banks such as Bank of Boston and Fleet Bank. Read more

UMass focuses on improving and rebuilding Higher Education in Haiti

The higher education system in Haiti, which faced numerous structural challenges and academic difficulties prior to the earthquake last January, collapsed. The major task ahead is to rebuild a higher education system conducive to the future economic, political, and social development of the country. Improving and rebuilding Haiti’s education system, particularly higher education, is at the core of helping the country to realize progress and strengthen its evolving democracy. Read more

Haitian women pioneering new tech to combat violence

Haitian women are poised to pioneer the use of mobile phones in new ways that can help women across the globe to fight gender-based violence. Leveraging mobile phones, they are working to develop systems that can benefit women everywhere in accessing power and rights.

Ten months after the devastating earthquake crushed Port Au Prince, a second humanitarian crisis has unfolded among Haiti’s women and girls: A growing epidemic of gender-based violence. Women are coming together to fight this problem with the few resources they have,  organizing to provide protection for themselves and their families. Read more

Haiti Initiative launched at Brown University

Edwidge Danticat speaks at Brown University, Oct. 4, 2010Edwidge Danticat speaks at Brown University, Oct. 4, 2010On Monday October 4th, Brown University launched a Haitian Initiative with two special events featuring Edwidge Danticat, acclaimed Haitian-American author and Paul Farmer, UN Deputy Special Envoy to Haiti and co-founder of Partners in Health. The University’s Department of Africana Studies also announced a new visiting fellow, Haitian recording artist Wyclef Jean. Read more

Wyclef’s bully pulpit could be put to better use

On November 28, Haiti faces one of the most important elections since its first democratic election in 1990. Wyclef Jean’s run for President of Haiti was entertaining and brought a few weeks of limelight to the crucial elections. Before the media attention dies, a few minutes should be spent talking about the real issues involved – that the elections, which will provide the political foundation and accountability for the use of earthquake recovery funds, will likely be a sham. And unfortunately, the international community is paying for these illegitimate elections that could plunge the country into even greater chaos.
It was easy to get wrapped up in the celebrity hype around Wyclef’s candidacy. He even released a song called Prison for the CEP, protesting the decision of Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (the CEP) to exclude him from the candidate list. Read more

Deval Patrick for Governor

BHR October 2010BHR October 2010The Boston Haitian Reporter, the region's leading source for news and information in the Haitian-American community, endorsed the re-election of Gov. Deval Patrick in its October edition, in circulation on Oct. 8. The full text of the endorsement follows:

Four years ago, this newspaper endorsed the candidacy of Deval Patrick because of what we saw in him: the promise of a transformational leader who would bring change to state government.
This month, we endorse his candidacy for a more concrete reason: because he has earned it.
Gov. Patrick has guided the Commonwealth through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. He has done it with poise, professionalism and with a sense of purpose that has paid off: Massachusetts’ economy is now growing at twice the rate of the rest of the nation. While unemployment remains high following the global financial meltdown of 2008, the Commonwealth has added jobs in the last six consecutive months and there are many other encouraging signs that the state is positioned to leap past most other states in job creation. None of that is accidental. Patrick has shepherded Massachusetts through the most severe crisis of the last half-century and he has distinguished himself and his administration in the process.
Even while managing a fiscal crisis of historic proportions, Gov. Patrick was able to assemble an impressive list of accomplishments: Read more

Martelly speaks on his presidential aspirations at Boston fundraiser

Martelly campaigns in Boston: The candidate greeted a young supporter at his Oct. 9 rally in Dorchester.Martelly campaigns in Boston: The candidate greeted a young supporter at his Oct. 9 rally in Dorchester.Over 200 people attended a rally in support of Haitian presidential candidate Michel Martelly last night at the Boston Teachers Union hall in Dorchester. The performer-turned-politician spoke for more than a hour to an enthusiastic audience, many of whom lined up for autographs and for a chance to ask the candidate a question. Read more

Presidential hopeful Alexis set to appear at Mattapan forum

Former Haitian Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis, who is a candidate for president in the upcoming November 28th election in Haiti, is scheduled to appear at a forum on Saturday, September 25 from 5-9p.m. at the Mattapan Center for Life, 555 River St in Mattapan. Read more