With Cabinet Reshuffle and Proposal to Trim Senate Terms, Martelly Regime Veers Hard Right

by Thomas Péralte  (Haiti Liberte)                                         
President Michel Martelly and
Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe reshuffled their cabinet last week for the third
time in nine months. The new cabinet comprises 23 ministers and 10 secretaries
of state. The previous government of President René Préval and Prime Minister
Jean-Max Bellerive was less bloated but more effective with only 18 ministers
and just a few secretaries of state.

a Jan. 12, 2013 decree, approved by Martelly, Lamothe changed seven ministers: David Bazile replaced Ronsard Saint-Cyr as Minister of the
Interior and Territorial Communities; Charles
replaced Josépha
Raymond Gauthier
as Minister of Social Affairs and Labor; Josette Darguste replaced Jean Mario Dupuy as Culture Minister; Régine Godefroy replaced Ady Jean Gardy as Communications
Minister; Magalie Racine replaced Jean Roosevelt René as Minister of
Youth, Sports and Civic Action; Jean François
replaced Jean Vilmond Hilaire
as Environment Minister; and Bernice
replaced Daniel Supplice as
Minister of Haitians Living Abroad.
remaining ministers stayed in their posts: Laurent
as Minister of Planning and External Cooperation; Pierre Richard Casimir as Minister of
Foreign Affairs and Religious Affairs; Jean
Renel Sanon
as Minister of Justice and Public Security; Marie Carmelle Jean-Marie as Minister
of Economy and Finance; Thomas Jacques as
Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Rural Development; Jacques Rousseau as Minister of Public
Works, Transport, Energy, and Communications; Wilson Laleau as Minister of Trade and Industry; Stéphanie Balmir Villedrouin as Tourism
Minister; Vanneur Pierre as Minister
of National Education and Vocational Training; Florence Duperval Guillaume as Minister of Public Health and
Population; Yanick Mézile as
Minister for the Status of Women and Women’s Rights; Jean Rodolphe Joazile as Defense Minister; Ralph Théano as Minister delegated by the Prime Minister for
Relations with Parliament; Marie
Carmelle Rose Anne Auguste
as Minister delegated by the Prime Minister for
Human Rights and the Fight Against Extreme Poverty;
Marie Mimose Félix as Minister delegated by the Prime Minister to
Promote the Peasantry; and René
as Minister delegated by the Prime Minister for Energy
other appointments were Reginald Delva as
Secretary of State for Public Security; Philippe
as Secretary of State for Public Works and Transport; Fresnel Dorcin as Secretary of State
for Plant Production; Michel Chancy as
Secretary of State for Animal Production; Vernet
as Secretary of State for Agricultural Renewal; Ronald Décembre as Secretary of State for Tax Reform; Oswald Thimoléon as Secretary of State
for Literacy; Marina Gourgues as
Secretary of State for Vocational Training; Gérald Oriol as Secretary of State for the Integration of Persons
with Disabilities; and Robert Labrousse as
Secretary of State for External Cooperation.
addition, the infamous Duvalierist Emmanuel
was appointed as the Director General of the National Radio and
Television of Haiti (RTNH). Ménard was once a leading propagandist for the
Duvalier dictatorship on Radio Nationale; he was also formerly a director of
the Delmas mayor’s office, director of the National Library of Haiti, and an
advisor to President Martelly.
cabinet reshuffling promoted many other notorious and zealous Duvalierists and
neo-Duvalierists of yesteryear, or their children. For example, Interior
Minister David Bazile was a former officer in the Armed Forces of Haiti
(FAD’H), and a former Secretary of State for Public Security under the coup
government of President Alexandre Boniface and Prime Minister Gérard Latortue
(2004-2006). A leader of the Duvalierist Party of National Unity (PUN), Bazile
was also an advisor to President Martelly and coordinator of the National
Commission for the Fight Against Drugs (CONALD).
Sports Minister Magalie Racine is the daughter of former Tonton Macoute militia
chief Madame Max Adolphe. She is married to Georges Racine, a Martelly advisor
and a strongman in the National Palace. Also Public Works Secretary of State
Philippe Cinéas is the son of longtime Duvalierist figure Alix Cinéas, who was
an advisor to Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier and a member of the original
neo-Duvalierist National Council of Government (CNG) which succeeded Duvalier
after his fall in 1986.
former Lavalas official Mario Dupuy lost his job as Culture Minister,
right-wing hardliners like Justice Minister Jean Renel Sanon, a former soldier,
kept his. Sanon has come under particular outcry for firing Port-au-Prince’s
prosecutor Jean Renel Sénatus, who refused to arrest three human-rights lawyers.
Sanon also appointed a controversial lawyer, Fermo-Jude Paul, as an
investigating judge of the court in Croix-des-Bouquets, just north of the
capital; Paul then went on to release  to
release Calixte Valentin, a close Martelly advisor, who shot to death in cold
blood Octanol Dérissaint, a Haitian vendor, in front of many eye-witnesses in
the town of Fond Parisien, near the Dominican border, last April. Sanon also
stands accused of encouraging corruption in an already corruption-riddled
judicial system.
Works Minister Jacques Rousseau has been on the hot seat before Parliament for
agreeing to sign contracts, which the lawmakers consider illegal and
unconstitutional, granting gold mining permits.
the Minister delegated to deal with Parliament, Ralph Théano, has taken to
insulting lawmakers. He described members of the opposition’s minority bloc,
the PRI, as “Kamikazes” and children raised in single-parent
families. Some parliamentarians feel that Martelly and Lamothe are thumbing
their noses at Parliament by keeping the unapologetic Théano in his post.
cabinet shake-up is the fourth under Martelly, who came to power in May 2011.
The first cabinet to change was that formed under former Prime Minister Garry
are also up in arms after Martelly floated a threat to unilaterally (and
illegally) shorten the terms of ten Senators who were elected to six year
terms: John Joel Joseph (West), Wencesclass Lambert (South East), Francky Exius
(South), Maxime Roumer (Grand’Anse), William Jeanty (Nippes), Jean Willy
Jean-Baptiste (Artibonite), Desras Simon Dieuseul (Central Plateau); Moïse
Jean-Charles (Nord); Méllius Hyppolite (Northwest) and Jean-Baptiste Bien-Aimé
(North-East). All were sworn in on Sep. 4, 2009, and therefore their
constitutional mandate will expire on the second Monday of January 2015.
Several of the senators are outspoken critics of Martelly, and the President
wants to silence them, particularly Moïse Jean-Charles.
threat to trim Senate terms has already triggered howls of protest in both the
upper and lower houses of Parliament. Even senators considered aligned with
Martelly expressed their opposition. “I spoke with the President, and I
told him that it was a bad road to take,” said Senate President Desras
Simon Dieuseul. “If he has advisers who told him he can enforce this law,
I challenge them to tell me that I am not right, because when we talk about a
transitional provision, it is a something that is for a limited time and that
time has elapsed. I told the President that I did not want him to insist on
this path. If we question the terms of one category of elected officials, then
we should also put into question the terms of all elected officials (including
the President), and we could arrive at a general election.”
Wencesclass Lambert, a close Martelly ally in the Senate, also voiced his
disagreement with Martelly’s proposal to shorten the ten mandates, saying they
were constitutionally protected. He lamely suggested that Martelly’s remarks do
not reflect the government’s official position. He warned that any attempt to
reduce the senators’ mandates would precipitate “a new and serious political
Deputy Emmanuel Fritz-Gerald Bourjolly, also member of the pro-government
parliamentary bloc, called Martelly’s proposal unconstitutional and
undemocratic, saying the President has no authority to shorten senators’ terms.
“That would be against the principles of democracy,” he said.
Patrick Joseph from Saint-Michel/Marmelade said that Martelly’s proposal
“proves, once again, his dictatorial tendencies.” He said Martelly’s speeches
on the development of the country are contradicted by his actions and called on
the Haitian people to “remain vigilant to defeat anti-democratic plan of the
Saline’s Deputy, Wilbert Joseph Deshommes, said he hoped that Martelly had
“already realized the illegality of the project” to shorten the senators’
terms. He invited Martelly to review “the evidence that the era of dictatorship
in Haiti is over.”
have noted that Martelly appears clumsily willing to use the transitional
provisions of the 2008 Electoral Act against parliamentarians, while he refuses
to use the transitional provisions of the Constitution for the formation of a
Provisional Electoral Council to organize elections.
fact, the formation of an electoral council to organize elections is once again
delayed. The coalition of clerics called Religions for Peace, which was seeking
to broker a compromise between the Executive and the Legislature, has now
withdrawn. The representatives of the Superior Council of the Judiciary (CSPJ)
installed on Martelly’s patently illegal “Permanent” Electoral Council refuse
to step down. Martelly continues to keep his protégé Josué Pierre-Louis at the
head of any eventual electoral council, despite the credible charges that
Pierre-Louis raped one of his staff members.
evident hardening of the regime’s stance in the face of growing popular misery,
anger, and outcry augur serious political confrontations in the coming weeks
and months.
President Michel Martelly has threatened to shorten the terms of
opposition senators while his Prime Minister has installed new hard-right
ministers in a cabinet reshuffle.