President of Haiti
Michel Martelly, President of Haiti (since May 14, 2011)
Michel Joseph Martelly (born February 12, 1961), also known by his stage name “Sweet Micky”, is the current President of Haiti following his victory in the Haitian presidential election of 2011. Before entering the political scene, Martelly was a performing and recording artist, composer and businessman.
In July 2010, he announced that he would be running for the Presidency of Haiti. Martelly previously supported the disbanded Haitian military, FAd’H, and supporters of the 1991 coup d’état, such as the notorious killing squad FRAPH.
On April 4, 2011 a senior Haitian official announced that Martelly won the run-off Haitian presidential election against candidate Mirlande Manigat. The Haitian election is widely regarded as having been undemocratic and fraudulent. Martelly was only included in the run-off after pressure from the OAS and the United States government, turnout was extremely low (under 24%) and the largest political party of Haiti, Fanmi Lavalas had been excluded from the electoral process. Martelly’s campaign was managed by the Spanish firm Solas, which has ties to Spain’s People’s Party.
Martelly was born in Cotes-de-Fer, a small town on the southeastern coast of Haiti near Jacmel. The middle-class son of a petroleum plant supervisor, Martelly is self-taught keyboard player and singer. After graduating from high school, Martelly briefly enlisted in the Haitian Military Academy. Following an unsuccessful stint in the Armed Forces after being ejected due to impregnating a General’s daughter, Martelly subsequently moved to the United States where he briefly enrolled at Red Rocks Community College in Lakewood, Colorado. In 1986, after one semester, he returned to Haiti just as Jean-Claude Duvalier, then president-for-life, was heading into exile. Martelly later on returned stateside with his then-girlfriend, Sophia, whom he later married in a small ceremony in Miami, Florida. Martelly continued to work on a construction site for a year until moving back to Haiti in 1987. Upon their return to Haiti, Martelly had his first breakthrough in the musical industry when he began playing keyboard as a fill-in musician in local venues in Petionville and Kenscoff, some of the upscale suburbs of Port-au-Prince. It was during his early years in Florida that Martelly became addicted to drugs, chiefly crack cocaine.
Martelly currently lives in Haiti, but held several homes in Palm Beach, Florida, which he subsequently lost through defaulting on the mortgages. He lives with his wife and former manager, Sophia, and their four children. In 2006, Martelly announced his unofficial retirement from recording and performing but two years later announced a return to music with a new single, Magouyè, and the video/short film, “Bandi Legal yo ki rive”. He is a cousin of Port-au-Prince hotel manager and musician Richard Morse.
René Préval, Former President of Haiti
René Préval – son of agronomist Claude Préval and Céline Talleyrand – was born in Port-au-Prince on January 17, 1943. He is father to two daughters, Dominique and Patricia.
He studies agronomy in Belgium at Gembloux and Louvain and geothermal sciences at the University of Pisa in Italy.
Upon his return in Haiti in 1975, he works at the Minister of Mine and Energy.
In 1988, he opens a private practice and a bakery.
Starting in 1976 René Préval joins the fight against Jean Claude Duvalier’s dictatorial regime in favor of the establishment of democracy in Haiti. He then becomes a member of resistance groups against the Duvalier regime, a founding member of the association called “Honor and Respect” fighting for the strict observance of the 1987 Constitution and presides over the “Comité Pa Bliye” (Let’s not forget committee) dedicated to missing persons’ cases that occurred during the Duvalier regime .
On the 13th of February 1991, René Préval becomes the Prime Minister (and, also at the same time Minister of Interior and Defense) of President Jean Bertrand Aristide, winner in 1990 of the first free election in Haiti since independence in 1804. However, René Préval goes into exile in September 1991 when Haiti’s first truly democratic experience is interrupted by a coup d’état undertaken by the military. He first seeks refuge in various embassies in Port-au-Prince before leaving for Washington where he resides until October 1994.
Upon the return of the constitutional Government in1994, René Préval becomes Director of the Economic and Social Assistance Fund (FAES).
In December 1995, René Préval is elected President of Haiti for a five year-term. He takes the oath of office on February 7, 1996.
In February 2001, upon completing his term, René Préval retires to Marmelade, his father’s hometown, and there he dedicates himself to local development activities.
As a candidate for the 2006 presidential elections, René Préval scores a first-round win on February 7, 2006. He is sworn into office on the 14th of May 2006 as the 55th President of Haiti.