Haitian Musician Campaigns in Miami

Michel Martelly comes to South Florida

By Hank Tester
|  Thursday, Jun 30, 2011  |  Updated 10:12 AM EDT
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The Haitian presidential campaign is stepping into our backyard as two candidates rally for support here in <a title=South Florida. " />

The Haitian presidential campaign is stepping into our backyard as two candidates rally for support here in South Florida.

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A large crowd turned out Wednesday night in Miami to welcome Michel Martelly to the Magic City, as he looks for a little magic of his own in the Haitian presidential race.

Martelly had arrived looking very Presidential, a long way from the bad boy image of Haiti's dance hall king, Martelly's alter ego, "Sweet Micky."

His convoy of black SUVs rolled into a Coral Gables mansion as security guards and political operatives piled out. Martelly is a performer, and he's playing the role of  Haitian Presidential candidate very well. 

"He could win this thing," said a big contributor who did not want to be identified. 

Martelly worked the crowd of dark suited, mostly Caucasian lawyers, doctors, business men and women and a couple of local Miami politicos including Hialeah Mayor Julio Robina.

"We will make it easier for investors to come and create jobs," Martelly told the small crowd. Haiti has always been a difficult challenge for foreign investors who for years had to deal with bribe taking officials and a closed society of local industrialist, politicians, and a small group of influential families.

Later in the evening, Martelly worked a huge crowd in North Miami. Earlier he had discussed allowing Haitians living in the U.S. and Canada the opportunity to hold duel citizenship, which would allow the ability to vote and, more important, to invest in the homeland. 

"We will make it easier for investors to come and create jobs and that is what Haiti needs right now," he said. Martlley also likes the idea of bringing back an army to the island nation. "We do not need tanks or planes, but we do need a corps of engineers, first responders for natural catastrophes, and security."

Martelly faces Mirlande Manigat, Haiti's former first lady and college professor. The election is set for March the 20th, an election Martelly almost missed. He came in third in the first round of elections but after complaints about government election fraud and street demonstrations, Martelly was placed back in the race and a government backed candidate was erased from the ballot.

In recent weeks Manigat has been spending time in Canada where there is a significant Haitian population. 

The Haitian presidential race has high interest in Miami because of the large numbers of Haitians now calling South Florida home, the business connections between Miami and Port au Prince, and the large number of South Floridians who opened their wallets to pour earthquake relief funds into the Island.

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