Miami police will not allow former Haitian President Michel Joseph Martelly to perform on stage at a music festival to be held in "Little Haiti" this Saturday, May 21, 2022, citing security concerns under pressure from community members who say the controversial politician and singer is not welcome in the city, specifically in “Little Haiti”.
Martelly, Haiti's 2011-2016 president and popular musician, drew protesters to a 2018 show in Miami that, like this weekend's event, took place at the Little Haiti Cultural Complex to celebrate Haitian Flag Day.
A spokesperson for the Miami Police Department said this Friday, May 20, 2022, that a permit for the "Best of Haiti Music Fest" has not yet been issued for other unspecified reasons, but that any permit grant would be revoked if Martelly remained in the queue.
The former president is a source of anger for many Haitians. Since leaving, Martelly has faced allegations of corruption and his political party PHTK, which has governed Haiti for a decade, has been blamed for escalating political instability and gang violence in the country.
A lawsuit filed by members of the Haitian diaspora in U.S. federal court also accused Martelly and his successors of conspiring to fix the price of phone calls and money transfers to fund what the plaintiffs claim was a program non-existent education in Haiti reported the American newspaper.
"I have family in Haiti who are hurting because of PHTK," said Tony Jeanthenor, who chairs the Haitian rights group Veye Yo and who co-wrote a May 13 letter to Miami Mayor Francis Suarez. opposing Martelly's presence in Miami.
Jeanthenor said activists plan to demonstrate at the event on Saturday, even though Martelly isn't there, to pressure the mayor to permanently ban him from the city.
"We're not going to stop until the city declares him persona non grata," he said.
The former president has faced backlash ahead of performances in other cities, including Montreal, where a show was canceled in 2019 after opponents cited misogynistic comments and allegations of corruption.