The Miracle of Michel Martelly

December 16, 2010

 Joegodson and Paul

Michel Martelly is evidence that there are many paths to enlightenment. Until just Tuesday of this week, he has always supported the politics of division, aligning himself with the minorite zwit, as Aristide used to call the reactionary minority that, despite its numerical insignificance, controls the flow of money, weapons, and propaganda in Haiti.

On Tuesday, Martelly called for Haitians to stand together. He humbly accepted the inevitability that he should represent all Haitians.  He thanked Haitians who have dared to stand with him “before the door of change.” Martelly claimed that every Haitian – from “the important elite” to “the unemployed” – was standing with him in front of that door:

Avan mwen komanse, mwen tou pran okazyon pou mwen di mèsi ak tout moun ki te akonpaniye nou devan pòt chanjman-an :  chòme yo, bredjen yo, jenès la, inivèsitè yo, peyizan yo, tikomèsan yo, tout machannyo, taxi moto yo, chofè taxi yo, lelit konsekan an, profesionèl yo, atis yo, atizan yo, rasta yo, profesè lekol yo, protestan yo, katolik yo, vodouyizan yo, tout lòt relijion yo, andikape yo, policier yo, fanm vanyan yo, ak tout tèt kale yo…

There is one exception to the unity of all Haitians: the Electoral Council. But all other Haitians rose up with Martelly to put their foot down against its anti-democratic machinations:

Se konsa, Madi ki te 7 desanm , lè yo pase demokrasy anba pie, lè yo piblye rezilta tout peyi di monn konteste avek nou an, mwen te santi m kontan  ampil lè nou tout te fè yon sèl pou nou frape piye nou a tè pou nou di non ak rezilta malatchòn KEP a piblye a. … A la yon bèl examp tèt ansamn nou rann omaj ak amblèm ki anba drapo nou.

(In that way, on Tuesday December 7, when they trampled on democracy by publishing the election results and everyone protested with us, I was very happy when we all together lifted our feet to stamp the ground as one to say no to the Electoral Council’s results. … That was a wonderful example of putting our heads together (a popular Haitian expression) to pay tribute to the flag’s motto, “Unity is Strength.”)

Martelly offered a way out: instead of holding the second round of the elections on January 16 as scheduled, he suggested that the elections be redone on that date with all candidates and that the winner be declared president. For Martelly, the Electoral Council became a problem when it by-passed him from the run-off in January, not when it excluded a number of political parties, including Fanmi Lavalas that he has consistently derided since its extraordinarily democractic inception, as Jeb Sprague helpfully reminds us. Likewise Moriso Laza wonders when Martelly became a democrat.

But while Martelly had made common cause with the powerful to hold the door shut against the lavalas movement over the last twenty years, he must have been absorbing the spirit of liberation theology. When he spoke on Tuesday, he made it clear that a people’s movement has no leader. The politics of unity transcend personal ambition and egoism. This profound insight inspired his acceptance of the burden of representing the people: Nou chwazi’m pou’m pote revendikasyon sa. Map di nou mèsi e m’fè sèman ke map pote’l e mwen pap trayi nou. (You have chosen me to carry your demands. I thank you and vow that I will carry them and will not betray you.) In similar words, Aristide humbly accepted the nomination of presidential candidate representing the lavalas movement in 1990; although it sounded different when spoken by a man who had dedicated his life to courageously serving the poorest and most vulnerable people in Port-au-Prince.

In case anyone doubts that the two men are in communication with the same God, Martelly paid hommage to Aristide’s vision by quoting his most important message from 1990 election. Tout moun se moun would become the title of the book Aristide wrote during his first exile subsequent to the 1991 coup d’etat that Martelly supported. On Tuesday of this week, Martelly intoned the wisdom of the man he used to mock: Nan vre demokrasi chak grenn vòt konte paske nan yon peyi chak grenn moun se moun, e tout moun se moun. (In a real democracy every single vote counts because in a country everyone counts and every person is a person.)

The Lord works in mysterious ways.

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