Presidents Martelly and Clinton to Be Honored and Protested in NYC

by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)
On Jun. 19,
model Petra Nemacova’s Happy Hearts Fund will honor Haitian President Michel
Martelly and former U.S. President Bill Clinton at a star-studded fundraiser
at a Cipriani chain restaurant on 42nd Street in Manhattan.
            But Haitian community groups and
their supporters in New York are planning to demonstrate outside the event to
call attention to Mr. Martelly’s corruption and repression, and Mr. Clinton’s
responsibility for the largely bungled international relief effort which he
headed after Haiti’s Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake.
            The Happy Hearts Fund, which was
created 10 years ago by Ms. Nemacova after she survived the Indian Ocean
tsunami, will give Martelly a “Leadership in Education Award” for “his
transformational leadership after the devastating earthquake and commitment to
uplifting the country’s future through education,” the HHR explains on its
            Mr. Clinton will receive a “Lifetime
Achievement Award” for “his leadership and life-saving work ensuring that
children and communities are not forgotten after disasters strike.”
            Ms. Nemacova is the girlfriend of
Martelly’s Prime Minister and longtime business partner Laurent Lamothe, who
will also reportedly attend the event.
            “Already this month, there have been
two massive demonstrations in Port-au-Prince demanding that Martelly and
Lamothe resign for looting state coffers and jailing critics,” said Ray
Laforest of the International Support Haiti Network (ISHN), one of the groups
sponsoring the protest outside Cipriani. “Teachers are striking and students
are marching to denounce how the Martelly government is strangling education in
Haiti. Now the clueless glitterati are going to toast him for supposedly
promoting education. It’s an outrage and a disgrace.”
            This is not the first time that Ms.
Nemacova’s charity has been criticized. “After surviving the 2004 tsunami in
Thailand by clinging to the top of a palm tree, the supermodel wanted to pay it
forward by founding a charity to build schools in Latin America and Indonesia,”
reported the New York
on Nov. 9, 2008.
“Instead, it seems an outrageous portion of the donations have gone for lavish
parties at Cipriani. Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman and Eva Mendes have attended the
black-tie affairs. According to the most recent tax filing, for 2006, the
organization spent more than half of its funds on administration and fund
raising, including its annual star-studded Heart of Gold ball, and gave nothing
in aid. Glen Nordlinger, a director of Happy Hearts Fund, said the group raised
$4.5 million in 2007 and spent $2.1 million on programs, including building
schools… But even those figures raise red flags with charity watchdog groups,
which use the almost universal standard that a well-run charity should spend 65
to 75 percent of its donations helping people.”
            Mr. Clinton has been roundly
criticized for his leadership as co-chairman of the Interim Haiti Recovery
Commission (IHRC), which coordinated disbursement of billions of dollars
contributed to Haiti after the earthquake.
            “Four years after a magnitude 7.0
earthquake toppled the capital city of Port-au-Prince and heavily damaged other
parts of the country, hundreds of millions of dollars from the State
Department’s U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), allocated to
the IHRC, are gone,” wrote Mary O’Grady in a May 18 column in the Wall Street Journal. “Hundreds of millions more to the IHRC from
international donors have also been spent. Left behind is a mishmash of low quality,
poorly thought-out development experiments and half-finished projects.”
            As a result, “Haitians are angry,
frustrated and increasingly suspicious of the motives of the IHRC and of its
top official, Mr. Clinton. Americans might feel the same way if they knew more
about this colossal failure. One former Haitian official puts it this way: ‘I
really cannot understand how you could raise so much money, put a former U.S.
president in charge, and get this outcome.’”
            Four years after the quake, “more
than 170,000 people are estimated to still be living in more than 300
displacement camps, in the majority of cases in appalling conditions with no
access to essential basic services such as clean water, toilets and waste
disposal,” wrote Amnesty International in a Jan. 9, 2014 statement.
            Demonstrators will gather on
Thursday at 5 p.m. in front of Cipriani, which is at 110 East 42nd Street in
Manhattan, between Lexington and Park Avenues.
            Also being honored at the event are
United Airlines CEO Jeff Smisek and philanthropist John Caudwell.

            “Under Martelly, demonstrations in
Haiti are almost always broken up with the police firing teargas into the crowd
and beating people,” said Henriot Dorcent, a leader of the Dessalines
Coordination (KOD), a new Haitian party which is also supporting the
demonstration outside Cipriani. “Martelly won’t be able to do that in New York.
He has enriched himself and his cronies from the Haitian treasury and
PetroCaribe account, while Clinton has monopolized, squandered, and misdirected
Haiti’s precious earthquake funds. Haitians in New York won’t allow those two
men who have so damaged Haiti’s present and future to be honored without people
knowing the truth.”