Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bahamians of Haitian descent did not see anything wrong with Haitian President Michel Martelly’s message to Haitian-Bahamians and Haitians on his recent visit to The Bahamas

Young Haitian-Bahamians weigh in on Martelly controversy

By Krystel Rolle
Guardian Staff Reporter

Two Bahamians of Haitian descent have weighed in on the raging debate over Haitian President Michel Martelly’s recent controversial statements, saying that his comments were “blown out of proportion” and “misunderstood”.

During an interview on the Star 106.5 FM radio program ‘Jeffrey’ on Monday evening, Manishka Desinor, 26, who was naturalized three years ago, and Allie Lafleur, 28, who was naturalized recently, said they did not see anything wrong with Martelly’s message to Haitian-Bahamians and Haitians last Tuesday.

As previously reported by The Nassau Guardian, in a meeting with over 6,000 Haitians and Haitian-Bahamians at the Church of God Auditorium on Joe Farrington Road, Martelly urged them to align themselves with the political party that will best serve their interests.

“I told them to organize themselves and identify in the upcoming elections who is on their side. That way they can become a force. By being [unified] in the elections they might have people taking care of them. . .this is the democratic way,” the Haitian president said.

His comments sparked outrage among some Bahamians.

But Desinor and Lafleur do not see why his comments caused such a ruckus.

“I don’t think [Bahamians] should be upset about that,” Lafleur said.

“It’s just a comment he’s making to the people. He’s not telling you who to vote for. I can understand if he’s telling you to vote for the PLP or the DNA, then yeah, you could be offended. But he isn’t saying go ahead and vote for [any party]. He’s telling you to vote for the party of your choice.”

Desinor agreed.

“I don’t think he meant to cause any harm or make Bahamians feel like he’s butting into our affairs,” she said, adding that the media misinterpreted Martelly’s statements.

But some members of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) did see it that way.

In fact, DNA leader Branville McCartney called for Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham’s resignation, suggesting that the prime minister invited Martelly for political gain.

Ingraham has since refuted that claim.

PLP leader Perry Christie also took issue with Martelly’s statements, suggesting that the Haitian president was out of order.

But Lafleur said he thinks the PLP and the DNA are using the issue for political gain.

Desinor said she doesn’t know anyone in the Haitian community who intends to follow Martelly’s advice to form a voting bloc.

In fact, she said she is considering voting for an independent candidate.

Desinor became eligible to vote about three years ago when her application for citizenship was granted, a process that she said took three years.

Lafleur said he was naturalized 10 years after he applied.

Even though both Desinor and Lafleur’s parents are Haitians who illegally migrated to The Bahamas, the pair who were born in The Bahamas said they are just as much Bahamian as those born to Bahamian parents.

“I don’t consider myself a Haitian. I think of myself as a Bahamian,” Desinor said.

They both claimed that they have been discriminated against because of their parents’ nationality.

Desinor said that when she was growing up she felt “terrible and out of place; like I didn’t belong.”

While they don’t agree that people who were born here to Haitian parents are stateless, they admitted that it is frustrating not having Bahamian status upon birth.

“It’s stressful at times, knowing that you want to do things and you can not.  At 18 your life is at a standstill. You can’t do anything until your citizenship is approved,” Desinor said.

Feb 15, 2012