Eight candidates showed up at the North Miami senior High School Auditorium (13110 NE 8th Ave, North Miami, FL 33161) to answer the questions of 4 journalists about their political agendas. This debate took place on Oct 4, exactly three weeks before the presidential elections in Haiti on Oct 25.
By Jonel Juste
The North Miami Auditorium was packed. People came from everywhere to see and hear 8 of the 54 candidates running for the political top job in Haiti. Were present Clarens Renois (UNIR), Aviol Fleurant (Nouvelle Haiti), Mathias Pierre (Konsyans Patriyotik), Samuel Madistin (MOPOD), Michelet Nestor (CORRECH), Eric Jean Baptiste (MAS), Steven Benoit (KONVIKSYON), Simon Dieuseul Desras (Plateforme Politique Palmis). Four more candidates were to complete the panel, but they didn’t make it. They were: Moïse Jean-Charles, Fred Brutus, Marie Antoinette Gauthier and Steve Khawly. The debate was hosted by Elizabeth Guérin (Tropik TV) and Patrick Eliancy (Island TV). The candidates were “grilled” by the journalists Jean Monard Mettelus, Euvrard St-Amand, Valery Numa and Lesly Jacques.
Most of the candidates proposed an agricultural solution to the economic challenges Haiti is facing. The national production was their keyword. For the energy crisis, some candidate proposed to try other sources of energy like the wind and the sun.
To one of the candidates, the journalist Clarens Renois, the first step is to create a political stability to attract investors to Haiti. He also proposed a “political reconciliation” to save Haiti. Steven Benoit came up with numbers to show what could really be done and what was pure fantasy. Eric Jean Baptiste proposed to tax the wealthy. Aviol Fleurant looked more like a stage actor playing a role than a politician.
The candidates had also to answer questions about education. Steven Benoit criticized the National Fund for Education (FNE, in French) created by Michel Martelly and funded by money transfer and international calls from the Diaspora. “No one can give you a report on the $116 million collected by the Martelly administration. The Central Bank can’t give you a report”, he said. One of the candidates proposed to maintain the FNE after Martelly was gone. He was booed by the audience.
The debate was organized by the organization Friends of Haiti (FOH) and Radio Tele Caraibes. It was broadcast live in Haiti. Some people criticized the fact the debate took place in Miami and not in Haiti. Haitians in the Diaspora still can’t vote, but the candidates count on them to influence their relatives back home.