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.
Martelly, who is one of 19 candidates on the presidential ballot in Haiti's Nov. 28 election, is a well-known musician who performs under the name Sweet Micky. In Haiti and the Haitian diaspora, Martelly is every bit the musical icon as Wyclef Jean. Unlike Jean, Martelly was ruled eligible to appear on the November presidential ballot, where his name is in the eighth slot. Jean was disqualified because he did not live in the country for the requisite five years before running for office.
The fundraiser and rally is the latest effort on the part of local organizers to bring Haiti presidential candidates to the Boston Haitian community to garner support from the diaspora. Boston is home to the third largest Haitian population in the US.
Two other candidates were scheduled to make appearances locally in September. The first, Garaudy Laguerre made it to Boston, but did not actually enter the venue. Former Haitian Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis, who was scheduled to appear at a Mattapan event last month, canceled his trip to Boston at the last minute.
The Oct. 9th event was organized by the Boston Committee to Elect Michel Martelly. The group collected contributions of $20 to attend and also sold t-shirts in support of Martelly's candidacy. The committee included high-profile figures in the Boston community, including Ronald Nelson, Jean-Claude Sanon and attorney Elda James.