Haitian-Bahamian group says Martelly was misunderstood
By Royston Jones Jr
Guardian Staff Reporter
United Haitian Bahamian Association of The Bahamas Coordinator, Michael Telairin, said yesterday Haitian President Michel Martelly’s visit to The Bahamas this week was positive, but his message was misunderstood.
Telairin also said Martelly’s timing was “unfortunate due to the political climate” which has escalated the negative reaction to his message to members of the Haitian community here.
Telairin is a Bahamian citizen, whose parents are of Haitian descent.
Martelly spoke to thousands of Haitians and Haitian-Bahamians on Tuesday night at the Church of God on Joe Farrington Road.
He urged them to form a voting bloc in The Bahamas and align themselves with the political party that will best serve their interests.
“I told them to organize themselves and identify in the upcoming election 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,” said Martelly on Wednesday.
However, the Haitian Embassy said yesterday that some of Martelly’s comments were misunderstood, claiming “he did not intend to interfere in any way with the internal politics of The Bahamas”.
The statement noted that the primary purpose of the president’s visit was to discuss business and investment opportunities in Haiti to improve the lives of Haitians so they do not have to migrate to other countries.
“The Embassy of Haiti wants to highlight the importance of making inroads towards improving relations between the two countries through mutual and respectful cooperation,” the statement said.
Telairin reiterated that Martelly’s message was taken out of context and insisted that message was very informative and needed.
“[The president’s message and] visit really wasn’t to stir up any commotion,” Telairin said.
Radio talk shows were flooded with calls from angry Bahamians yesterday, claiming that Martelly’s comments would encourage newly regularized Bahamians to vote for the Free National Movement.
“The negative opinions that Bahamians have been expressing on many radio talk shows are not called for,” Telairin said.
“He (Martelly) said that those who have the opportunity to vote, should vote for the party who has their interest at heart and these comments are articulated by every politician and religious leader so it should not have such a negative reaction.
“His position right now is to get the people to understand that he is for them and his address and tour during his time here was to reinforce that message.”
Telairin added, “What he was also telling [Haitians and Haitian-Bahamians] in attendance...is that they have to understand they should not expect all the laws in The Bahamas to be to their advantage and he said to continue to respect the law of the land.”
Martelly arrived in The Bahamas Tuesday night and left on Wednesday.
Feb 10, 2012