At Miami's Haitian Flag Day celebration on Friday, Haitian rights activists plan to protest a planned performance by Sweet Micky, the stage name of former Haitian president Michel Martelly, whose controversial lyrics got him banned from two Haiti carnivals earlier this year.
The event is supposed to be a celebration of Haitian culture and the sewing together of the first flag on May 18, 1803. Martelly was invited to play for Sounds of Little Haiti, a free Haitian musical showcase that happens to fall on this Haitian Flag Day.
The event is being organized by the Little Haiti Cultural Complex, 212 NE 59 Ter., and Sandy Dorsainvil, its former director who now runs a consulting firm. In a press release advertising Martelly's appearance, organizers said the "Haiti pop icon" will be there "to perform his most electrifying hits."
"We don't want him in Little Haiti," said Marleine Bastien, executive director of the Haitian rights advocacy group, Family Action Network Movement, or FANM.
In an open letter to Mayor Francis Suarez, activists say the Haitian American community is “outraged that city resources are being used to host a performance by Martelly.
"President Martelly’s actions during his five years in office (2010-2015) brought disrepute to the office of president and inflicted lasting harm to the dignity of Haitians in Haiti and in Miami," read the letter posted on Facebook. "He is not an appropriate representative of Haitian culture and is a poor model for our youth."
Among their complaints, the former president's reputation for "degenerating" women, and accusations of corruption and the jailing of political opponents that surrounded his presidency.
Martelly has denied the allegations against him. And earlier this year, he lashed out at critics in a new Carnival tune. He had been banned from carnivals in the cities of Gonaives and Jacmel after women's groups and other organizations protested.
Dorsainvil, who invited Martelly, defended the invitation in an emailed response to the Miami Herald.
"I respect what people might feel about his political platform as president. However, Sweet Micky is one of the most popular bands in the Haitian music industry and the night is an opportunity to celebrate that music during Haitian heritage month," she said.