Haiti: President Martelly Arranges His Own Protest of Support

President Michel Martelly leads similar kanaval-style protest on February 18 [file]

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (defend.ht) – President Michel Martelly found it wise on Monday to coordinate a kanaval-style protest with a few hundred supporters through the streets of Port-au-Prince who accompanied him from the airport to the National Palace on his return from the United Nations General Assembly.

President Michel Martelly was met at the airport by Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe and other officials, former senators, Youri Latortue and Joseph Lambert, as well.

Observers said the event was in response to the anti-government protest of several thousand that took place on Sunday. Haitian radio hosts questioned whether the president should have been leading counter protests when he should be searching for unity.

President Martelly arranged for a truck with DJs and Rara bands to provide music through the streets. Senator Jean-Baptiste Bien-Aime (Nord-Est/Inite) said money was paid for individuals to accompany the president. Another source said government street cleaners were paid 1,000HTG ($24.00[US]) to take part in the event.

Citizens calling into radio stations rejected the event as it is taking place on the first day of school and first day of the opening of the judicial calendar; days of high traffic that are traditionally given solemn consideration.

There remains the uncertainty of how many in the crowd were there to provide political support to the president. Some had taken to the streets to join in the ambiance of entertainment.

The protest the day before, on Sunday, was more clearly for political reasons, and at the initiative of Haitian citizens, that took the streets to protest against corruption, exclusion and the rising cost of living in Haiti.

This is not the first time President Michel Martelly has spent public funds to organize a protest of support. On November 3rd, 2011, upon returning from the United States after the arrest of Deputy Arnel Belizaire (Delmas/independent), the Head of State reportedly spent $50,000[US] to bring in 5 buses full of supporters and rara bands with ready-made signs to welcome him.

On February 17, 2012, President Michel Martelly led a similar kanaval-style protest to the state university. Trying to enter the School of Ethnology, students and the president’s entourage had a violent clash. The AP reported a witness who said the Head of State was hit in the shoulder by a rock and almost fell; two security guards had embraced him and put him into a car and drove away.


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