Corruption allegations have been a major aspect of President Michel Martelly’s Regime. His latest accusations include possessing dual citizenship (forbidden by law for Haitian presidents), accepting bribes from Dominican construction companies vying for Haitian reconstruction contracts, and having links to the former brutal “Baby Doc” Duvalier dictatorship. The administration consists of at least five high-ranking officials – including the Prime Minister – who are children of senior officials who served under the dictatorship. These allegations are especially interesting in light of President Martelly’s position on how to fuel trust among the Haitian people when they expect corruption:
President Martelly discusses IDP relocation and corruption with Anderson Cooper
As M. Josué Pierre-Louis, President of the Presidential Commission on Judicial Reform in Haiti, pointed out during his visit to Duke in February of this year, the Haitian people have a historical tendency to distrust their government, which is quite understandable given the country’s history of dictatorships. Since Martelly’s opponents hold both houses of parliament, his powers will likely remain mostly in check, but the presence of these Duvalierists in his regime, as well as some veterans of Aristide’s reign, are very harmful for his image. Martelly’s reluctance to press for Duvalier’s prosecution, as well as his proposed restoration of the country’s army – despite recommendations that he improve the police force instead, as it is more likely to serve independent of Martelly’s interests – continue to foster distrust among the Haitian people.
President Martelly originally ran on a populist platform, evoking adoration from Haitian citizens for his dedication to helping the common people. Since then he has imposed taxes to cover free schooling for over 900,000 children, a move which – although not completely in line with his original populist principles – has been a great stride for a country that had previously been unable to provide schooling free of charge. President Martelly has also made a great commitment to judicial reform, appointing supreme court justices and forming the Commission Présidentielle de la Réforme de la Justice, a major goal of which is to implement common law reforms to speed up Haiti’s bloated judicial system. Josué Pierre-Louis, a former Haitian Minister of Justice and the current President of this commission, is dedicated to solving the system’s issues of prolonged detention caused by the lack of a “presumption of innocence” in Haiti’s Civil Law system. He visited Duke University in February of 2012, noting Haiti’s need to follow the United States’ Common Law System’s footsteps in incorporating plea bargaining, juries, and adversarial mechanisms into its primarily inquisitorial judicial system.
Despite these successes, President Martelly’s approaches to delivering his campaign promises of creating housing and jobs for the half million internally displaced persons (IDPs) still living in tents in his country have garnered much criticism. When he took office in May of 2011, he promised to close all IDP camps within 6 months, starting with 6 camps in his first 100 days. However, almost a year later, President Martelly is running behind on his campaign promises. Wary of mounting pressure, Martelly’s rule has been characterized by significantly increased evictions in both IDP camps and on private property. A 2011 survey found that 34% of displaced persons left their camps due to forced evictions (Phillips 2011). These evictions, usually led by government agents, tend to be very violent or involve the threat of violence. While the Martelly regime has not been formally tied to the rampant arson attacks currently taking place in Haitian IDP camps, most of the Haitian citizens interviewed believe “politics” are behind the attacks. Meanwhile, evictions on private property have been supported by Haitian police, local government officials and even the UN. For more information on forced evictions, see “IDP Camps and NGOs.”
President Martelly’s health issues in April of this year (2012) have kept him in Florida, and the escalating violence that has continued his absence contributes to an image of Haiti as a violent, anarchistic fail state. From corruption allegations, to escalating violence in forced evictions, to IDP reintegration policies that fail to provide displaced persons with adequate alternatives to camps, it is not difficult to see why the Haitian people distrust the Martelly Administration. Although he professes promising ideas in words, only time will tell whether President Martelly can successfully actualize an effective reintegration plan for citizens displaced by the 2010 Haitian earthquake.
Davos 2012 – Michel Martelly – Building a Better Haiti
AP. 14 October 2011. “HAITI – Martelly’s links to old Duvalier regime prompt security. Caricom News Network. Accessed April 2012. http://www.caricomnewsnetwork.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5573:haiti-martellys-links-to-old-duvalier-regime-prompt-scrutiny&catid=293:haiti&Itemid=514
Ives, Kim. 10 April 2012. “Spectacular Corruption Charges Rock Martelly Regime.” Haiti Liberté. Accessed April 2012. http://www.haiti-liberte.com/archives/volume5-38/Spectacular%20Corruption.asp
Ives, Kim and Isabelle Papillon. “Haiti: Chaos Grows as ‘President’ Martelly Stays in Miami Hospital.” Pacific Free Press. Accessed April 2012. http://www.pacificfreepress.com/news/1-/11543-haiti-chaos-grows-as-qpresidentq-martelly-stays-in-miami-hospital.html
Phillips, Nicole. 3 Oct 2011. “HAITI’S HOUSING CRISIS: Results of a Household Survey on the Progress of President Michel Martelly’s 100-Day Plan to Close Six IDP Camps.” Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti. San Francisco: University of San Francisco School of Law.
Snyder, Mark and Kan Mozole. 18 March 2012. “Another Arson Attack in Haiti’s IDP Camps.” Let Haiti Live. Accessed April 2012. http://www.lethaitilive.org/news-english/2012/3/18/another-arson-attack-in-haitis-idp-camps.html