On Sunday March 20, 2011, the Haitian people will elect their new president. Who are the candidates? Apparently Sweet Micky A.K.A. President Tet Kalé (the bald headed president) and Madame Manigat A.K.A. Maman Manigat. Although I characterize myself as Haitian, when I am in Haiti, I am considered an American and therefore I do not have voting rights. However, I have come to find out that this is not true.
The group stayed one of Haiti's most popular hotels. The presidential candidates held their press conferences there, so it quickly became the hot spot for journalists and election watchers from around the world. On a particular night, I was approached by a man who I have dubbed “El Creepo”. After hours of staking out our table, he came over and asked me in creole, who are you going to vote for? Tet Kalé? I told the man that I am an American and that I could not vote in Haiti’s election. That is when he offered me voting rights. El Creepo told me that he could make a way for me to vote. I started to think that this was a joke, but then I remembered that I was in Haiti and that anything was possible. I told El Creepo that even if I could, I would not vote in this election. This was a big mistake. (Rule number one; never get a Haitian started on politics). El Creepo went on this political/ philosophical/ social/ legal/ historical / whatever else he could throw in, in hopes of convincing me to not only vote, but to vote for Maman Manigat. He told me “to abstain from voting was like making a choice, and that it was about making the better choice”. Although that may be somewhat true, is it really a choice when both of the candidates are (for a lack of a better word) not up to par? I definitely understand that Tet Kalé is a vulgar man whose lyrics are very degrading to women. But what about the socialist/ elitist? That doesn’t even make sense. El Creepo summarized his speech with this last thought. I should vote because she is a woman and I am a woman. Then he asked me if we could hang out sometime and “reprimanded” me for not asking him for his name.
I found it very interesting that whenever we asked someone the question "who would you vote for?" The answer was nine times out of ten, “I have no idea if I will even vote”. The Presidential candidates are on opposites ends of the spectrum. I had an interesting conversation with an important individual who shall remain nameless. He told me that according to the polls, “Micky has already won. The young of this country have rallied behind him and they believe that he will bring change.” As a candidate who has no training in law or politics, I am not sure how he will do as the President of Haiti. Micky is what you would call a popular candidate. He makes promises that are so far fetched; it is hard to believe that people actually believe him. Some of his promises include: providing food to everyone at noon each day, providing every child with a laptop, and the best one of all, providing every child with the opportunity to participate in e-learning with teachers in Miami. I personally think that we should work on getting stable electricity first and maybe work on, I don’t know, providing access to clean water to the 70% of the population who currently is without access.
Then there is Maman Manigat “Grandma” who is a socialist but not a socialist, who is part of the elite but has ideas that can be perceived as socialist. If your not confused, then God bless you. There is a reservation towards voting for her because people are afraid that she will be the same as all the past presidents and that she will not bring forth any real change. She is 70 years old and although that may not be an issue for some, her ideas are just as old as she is.
All we can do now is pray for Haiti. El Creepo was right about one thing, this is a very important election, and only God knows what will happen to this country.
Being in Haiti during the election season was definitely a learning experience. I learned that if you’re not a citizen of the country you can still vote. You can always be sure that someone will give you voting rights.