Richard Morse, lead singer of RAM, also not in the lineup, blames the committee. Bands are paid the equivalent of $30,000 for three days of performances.
On the phone, they said the minister wasnt in town, which is why our check wasnt ready. On the radio, they said that RAM didnt want to participate, said Morse, a cousin of Martelly and until recently an advisor in his government.
The groups song Men Bwaw has become the subject of decoding and debate as carnival watchers and journalists interpret its lyrics as double entendres illustrating frustration with the government. Morse said the song is about trees and Haitis history.
People who get angry about lyrics identify themselves as the targets of those lyrics, he said. Some of our most powerful and popular carnival songs have been rejected by previous carnival committees. This is nothing new to us.
Carnival committee President Gilbert Bailly said bands were chosen randomly, something he hopes to change next year. He did, however, manage to get one band reinstated, he said.
Theodore Lolo Beaubrun, leader of Grammy-nominated Boukman Eksperyans, said after fan pressure they were recently told by the committee they would be featured on a float. Similar to the other controversial meringues, Boukmans song Piou Piout accuses the government of talking too much and letting Haitians down.
The government has been panicked by that song, Beaubrun said.
Some are also irked by Katos video, which has already garnered 17,523 views on YouTube featuring a baldheaded Martelly impersonator dancing on the desk in the palace.
We are not into politics, but we cannot sit quiet and not express the suffering our brothers and sisters are living in, Kato said of his reggae-fused song. What I am singing is what the people are saying. They are not lies, so if he thinks I am against him, then the whole population is against him.
Sonjah Stanley Niaah, a professor of cultural studies at the University of West Indies, said while there are many examples in the Caribbean of similar attempts to ban artists, leaders need to proceed with caution in trying to censure artists.
There is a fine line between social responsibility and freedom of expression. While some of the bans have been nonsensical, others have simply served to increase the popularity of the very expression being banned and their creators, she said.