MIAMI, USA (CMC) — Newly-elected Haitian President Michel Martelly has reiterated his call to Haitian nationals in the Diaspora to support their impoverished, French-speaking homeland, in his first official visit to South Florida since elected president.
He urged his compatriots to "return home and help Haiti".
"Everyone here has an important role," he told nationals at the Florida International University's Biscayne Bay campus in North Miami yesterday
He reassured receptive nationals that, despite some setbacks, "Haiti is open for business".
Last week, Haiti's parliament rejected Martelly's nominee for Prime Minister, Daniel-Gerard Rouzier.
Forty-two deputies voted against Rouzier's nomination, most of them members of former President Rene Preval's Unity Party, while 19 deputies voted for him and three abstained.
Martelly, who took up the reins of power more than a month ago, said he was "deeply disappointed" by the decision but will abide by it.
Yesterday he reiterated that disappointment but noted that, unlike the violent disputes that erupted when the results of the first round of presidential elections put him in third place, there was no civil unrest this time around.
"I did not let the people take to the streets," he said, calling the lack of public protests a sign of progress.
Martelly has faced criticism from Haitians living abroad over his handling of a constitutional reform that would allow Haitians to have dual nationality, a move that is supported by the Diaspora.
But he told nationals while in Florida that he "will defend dual nationality because it's good for Haiti."
Some have also questioned the president's decision to impose a small tax on remittances -- money sent by Haitians to relatives back home -- to raise money to send children to school for free.
Martelly said there will be accountability in his government, promising to implement an auditing process in ensuring that revenue from the cash-for-education initiative will not be misused.
The Haitian leader was also scheduled to visit New York yesterday, where he planned to attend a luncheon fundraiser at New York University, a public rally with the Haitian Diaspora at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, and another fundraiser in the Wall Street commercial district.