Haiti

Haiti mayor says ban of ex-president from Carnival sparks government retaliation

Michel Joseph Martelly, or “Sweet Micky,” is the former president of Haiti (2011- 2016). Here he is seen during a performance after leaving the Haitian presidency at Cafe Iguana Pines in Pembroke Pines on Thursday, May 19, 2016.
Michel Joseph Martelly, or “Sweet Micky,” is the former president of Haiti (2011- 2016). Here he is seen during a performance after leaving the Haitian presidency at Cafe Iguana Pines in Pembroke Pines on Thursday, May 19, 2016. pportal@elnuevoherald.com

No Micky, no money. The mayor of Jacmel, Marky Kessa, on Friday accused Haiti’s central government of punishing the city for its decision to ban Sweet Micky — the on-stage name for former president Michel Martelly when he performs as a singer — from participating in Sunday’s Carnival in the seaside southeastern city.

Kessa said the bank told his office that a $109,340 government check can’t be cashed until Tuesday — two days after the boisterous bacchanal — because of an unspecified processing problem.

The money is part of $156,200 the central government had promised to provide to help subsidize the city’s pre-Lenten celebration, which is widely known for its artistry and takes place every year, a week before Haiti’s National Carnival.

Kessa said his office had already earmarked the money as advance payment for Carnival masqueraders and bands, who were supposed to receive funds on Friday. He believes the check problem is retaliation.

“I already knew from the prime minister that if the city didn’t let Sweet Micky participate in Jacmel, there would not be a government subsidy,” Kessa told the Miami Herald. Efforts to reach Haiti Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant were unsuccessful.

Earlier this week, Jacmel joined the city of Gonaives in announcing that the former president’s gyrating alter-ego would not be performing in its popular National Carnival. The moves came after religious leaders, feminists and human rights groups launched a protest of Martelly’s participation in the carnivals, following his Jan. 6 performance at a Port-au-Prince music festival.

On Friday, Haiti's Ministry of Culture announced on Twitter that Sweet Micky will be among the 19 bands that will be performing during Haiti's National Carnival in Port-au-Prince the weekend of Feb. 11.

During the performance, he bashed two prominent journalists and a human rights activist, accusing them of corruption and land grabs. He also dropped F-bombs, insulted the audience’s mothers and used raunchy language as he lashed out.

Kessa said he knew that the decision to ban the foul-mouthed singer would have severe consequences for Jacmel Carnival, which is a big tourist draw and revenue generator. But it will take more than a bad Haitian government check, he said, to derail Sunday’s street party — or Jacmel’s fight against immorality, which was sparked by the comments of President Donald Trump last month when he reportedly called Haiti a “shithole” country.

Haiti President Michel Martelly, also known as 'Sweet Micky,' entertaining a U.N. delegation from the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) last May at Brasserie Quartier Latin in, Pétionville.

“Today, we are saying no to Sweet Micky,” Kessa said. “Because we have vision, we are determined and are asking all who believe in morality, who believe in worth, who believe in forming men and women of tomorrow and who believe in another Haiti, to join with us, to help us. There are some things that we cannot tolerate, and we will not tolerate.”

This is not the first time Haiti’s central government has failed to get its promised Carnival subsidy on time to a city after disagreeing with a Carnival decision. Last year, after a Carnival turf war erupted between Port-au-Prince Mayor Youri Chevry and then-President-elect Jovenel Moïse, Chevry found himself unable to advance payments to performers after the subsidy failed to arrive on time. Two weeks before his inaugration, Moise announced that the National Carnival would be relocating from Port-au-Prince to Les Cayes.

In addition to reaching out to the business community and seeking donations, Kessa, the Jacmel mayor, said he’s asking masqueraders and bands to perform even without the advance money.

  Comments