Michel Martelly

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Michel Martelly
Michel Martelly on April 20, 2011.jpg
41st President of Haiti
In office
14 May 2011 7 February 2016
Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive
Garry Conille
Laurent Lamothe
Florence Duperval Guillaume (Acting)
Evans Paul
Preceded by René Préval
Succeeded by Jocelerme Privert (Provisional)
Personal details
Michel Joseph Martelly

(1961-02-12) 12 February 1961 (age 58)
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Political party Repons Peyizan
Spouse(s)First wife (?–1986; divorced)
Sophia Saint-Rémy(m. 1987)
Children4, including Olivier
Website Official website
Musical career
Genres Compas
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Vocals
Years active1988–2011; 2016–present

Michel Joseph Martelly [1] (French pronunciation:  [miʃɛl ʒɔzɛf maʁteli] ; born 12 February 1961 [2] ) is a Haitian singer and former politician who went on to serve as the President of Haiti from May 2011 until February 2016. He is from Côte-de-fer, a commune located in the South East region of Haiti. Martelly was one of Haiti's best-known musicians for over a decade, going by the stage name Sweet Micky. For business and musical reasons, Martelly has moved a number of times between the United States and Haiti. When travelling to the United States, Martelly mostly stays in Florida. After his presidency, Martelly returned to his former band (Sweet Micky) and sung a carnival meringue entitled Bal Bannan nan (Give her the banana), a message as a response to Liliane Pierre Paul, a famous Haitian female journalist in Port-au-prince. [3]

President of Haiti

The President of Haiti, officially called the President of the Republic of Haiti is the head of state of Haiti. Executive power in Haiti is divided between the president and the government headed by the Prime Minister of Haiti. The current president is Jovenel Moïse, who took office on February 7, 2017.


As a singer and keyboardist, "Sweet Micky" is known for his Kompa music, a style of Haitian dance music sung predominantly in the Haitian Creole language, but he blended this with other styles. Martelly popularized a "new generation" of compas with smaller bands relying on synthesizers and electronic instruments. From 1989 to 2008, Martelly recorded over a dozen studio albums and a number of live CDs. As a musician and club owner in Haiti in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Martelly became associated with the neo-Duvalierist Haitian military and police, including figures such as police chief Michel François, and he agreed with the 1991 Haitian coup d'état against Jean-Bertrand Aristide. In 1995, after Aristide had been restored to office, Martelly's name appeared on a hit list of coup supporters, and he stayed away from Haiti for almost a year. During this time, he released a song, "Prezidan" (on the album Pa Manyen), "an exuberant ditty that called for a president who played compas". [4] However, he did not run for political office until 2010, when he became a candidate for President of Haiti.

Defence Force of Haiti

The Defence Force of Haiti is the name of the planned, reconstituted armed forces of the Republic of Haiti. Haiti has not had regular a armed forces since 1995; a process to reestablish them was initiated in 2011 and 2017.

Joseph-Michel François was a colonel in the Haitian army. As Haiti Chief of National Police he participated in the 1991 Haitian coup d'état, which overthrew Haiti's elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Former Haitian President candidate Michel "Sweet Mickey" Martelly is known to have associated with François.

1991 Haitian coup détat

The 1991 Haitian coup d'état took place on 29 September 1991, when President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, elected eight months earlier in the 1990–91 Haitian general election, was deposed by the Armed Forces of Haiti. Haitian military officers, primarily Army General Raoul Cédras, Army Chief of Staff Phillipe Biamby and Chief of the National Police, Michel François led the coup. Aristide was sent into exile, his life only saved by the intervention of US, French and Venezuelan diplomats.

After the catastrophic earthquake, Martelly won the Haitian general election, 2010–11 for his party Repons Peyizan (Farmers' Response Party), after a run-off against candidate Mirlande Manigat. Martelly had come in third in the first round of the election, until the Organization of American States forced Jude Célestin to withdraw due to alleged fraud. Martelly assumed his position of the President of Haiti on 14 May 2011 after René Préval retired to his home in Marmelade. His election campaign included a promise to reinstate the nation's military, which had been abolished in the 1990s by Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

2010 Haiti earthquake magnitude 7.3 Mw earthquake on 2010-01-12

The 2010 Haiti earthquake was a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake, with an epicenter near the town of Léogâne (Ouest) and approximately 25 kilometres (16 mi) west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital. The earthquake occurred at 16:53 local time on Tuesday, 12 January 2010.

Repons Peyizan

Repons Peyizan is a Haitian political party. Michel Martelly was elected President of Haiti for the party at the Haitian general election, 2010–2011. As of 2011 the party holds no seats in the Senate of Haiti, and only 3 of 99 members of the Chamber of Deputies of Haiti.

Mirlande Manigat Haitian politician

Mirlande Manigat is a Haitian politician and candidate in the 2010 presidential election. She is the widow of former president Leslie Manigat and briefly served as the former First Lady of Haiti in 1988.

Early life

Martelly was born in Cote de Fer, the son of Gerard Martelly, a Shell Oil executive and Marie Madeleine Martelly (née De Pradines, b. 1931 - d. 21 October 2016). [5] [6] [2] [7] On his mother's side, his grandfather Auguste de Pradines was a troubadour [8] who wrote comic protest songs against the 1915-34 United States occupation of Haiti. [4] After graduating from high school at the Institution Saint Louis de Gonzague, Martelly enlisted in the Haitian Military Academy, but (according to Martelly) was expelled after impregnating the daughter of a general. [2] In 1984, he moved to the United States, and worked in construction and briefly attended a community college in Miami. [2] In 1986, after one semester, he divorced his first wife, an American citizen, and returned to Haiti just as Jean-Claude Duvalier, then president-for-life, was heading into exile. [9] In 1987, Martelly returned to Miami with his then-girlfriend, Sophia Saint-Rémy, [4] [10] whom he later married in a small ceremony in Miami, Florida.[ citation needed ] They returned to Haiti in 1988. [4]

Auguste Linstant de Pradines, also known as August de Pradines, Ti Candio or Kandjo was an influential Haitian musician who largely created the archetype of the Haitian troubadour. Over nearly five decades, de Pradines composed love songs as well as songs of political and social commentary, traveling throughout Haiti to perform in clubs, at private parties, in theaters, and outdoor rallies. de Pradines had twelve children, including his daughter Emerante de Pradines Morse who also became a prominent Haitian musician, as did her son, Richard Auguste Morse, and another of Auguste de Pradines' grandsons, Michel Martelly, who also served as president of Haiti (2011-2016).

Troubadour Composer and performer of lyric poetry during the High Middle Ages

A troubadour was a composer and performer of Old Occitan lyric poetry during the High Middle Ages (1100–1350). Since the word troubadour is etymologically masculine, a female troubadour is usually called a trobairitz.

United States occupation of Haiti

The United States occupation of Haiti began on July 28, 1915, when 330 US Marines landed at Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on the authority of US President Woodrow Wilson. The first invasion forces had already disembarked from USS Montana on January 27, 1914. The July intervention took place following the murder of dictator President Vilbrun Guillaume Sam by insurgents angered by his political murders of elite opposition.

Upon his return to Haiti, Martelly had his first breakthrough in the music industry when he began playing keyboard as a fill-in musician in local venues in Pétion-Ville and Kenscoff, upscale suburbs of Port-au-Prince. [4] [11] Martelly "sang playful, romantic numbers over a slow méringue beat called compas, the only music allowed under the Duvaliers." [2] After the 1991 Haitian coup d'état saw the expulsion of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, "Martelly opened a Pétion-Ville club called the Garage, where he entertained many of the coup's main architects, including the much-feared chief of national police, Michel François, later convicted in absentia for massacring Aristide supporters." [2]

Pétion-Ville Commune in Ouest, Haiti

Pétion-Ville is a commune and a suburb of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in the hills east and separate from the city itself on the northern hills of the Massif de la Selle. Founded in 1831 by then president Jean-Pierre Boyer, it was named after Alexandre Sabès Pétion (1770–1818), the Haitian general and president later recognized as one of the country's four founding fathers. The district is primarily a residential and touristic area. It held a population of 283,052 at the 2003 Census, which was officially estimated to have reached 376,834 in 2015. Many diplomats, foreign businessmen, and a large number of wealthy citizens do business and reside in Pétion-Ville.

Kenscoff Commune in Ouest, Haiti

Kenscoff is a commune in the Port-au-Prince Arrondissement, in the Ouest department of Haiti, located in the foothills of the Chaîne de la Selle mountain range, some 10 kilometres to the southeast of the capital city of Port-au-Prince. The altitude is approximately 1500 meters, making the town the highest permanent settlement in the Caribbean. It has a population of around 52,200.

Méringue, also called méringue lente or méringue de salon, is a dance music and national symbol in Haiti. It is a string-based style played on the lute, guitar, and other string instruments unlike the primarily accordion-based merengue, and is generally sung in Haitian Creole and French, as well as in English and Spanish.


Martelly has been heralded as a pioneer of a unique genre of compas, a style of Haitian dance music sung predominantly in the Haitian Creole language. Originally, compas, was the creation of Nemours Jean-Baptiste. Martelly, a keyboardist and the self-proclaimed "President of Compas," popularized a nouvelle génération, or "new generation" style, of smaller bands with few members that relied predominantly on synthesizers and electronic instruments to reproduce a fuller sound. Martelly's live performances and recordings are sometimes laced with physical humor and humorous sociopolitical commentaries and satires. Although he is the most recognized musician and public personality in Haiti, Martelly's performance style has sometimes ignited controversy throughout Haitian communities.

Compas (Haitian Creole: konpa, is a dance music and modern méringue in Haiti. The genre was popularized following the 1955 creation of the band Conjunto International by Nemours Jean-Baptiste. Compas is the main music of many countries such as Dominica and the French Antilles, etc. Whether it is called zouk where French Antilles artists of Martinique and Guadeloupe have taken it or compas in places where Haitian artists have toured, this méringue style is very influential in the Caribbean, Portugal, France, part of Canada, South and North America.

Haitian Creole Language spoken in Haiti

Haitian Creole is a French-based creole language spoken by 10–12 million people worldwide, and the only language of most Haitians. It is called kreyòl ayisyen or just kreyòl by its speakers, and créole haïtien in Standard French.

Nemours Jean-Baptiste was a Haitian saxophonist, writer, and band leader. He is credited with being the inventor of compas, also known as compas direct, a style of Haitian music.

Recording career

By 1988, Martelly's musical talent, stage craft, and his pattering style of compas had gained tremendous popularity at El Rancho Hotel and Casino and The Florville, another local venues. That year, he recorded his first single, "Ou La La", which became an instant hit, followed by "Konpas 'Foret des Pins'" in 1989, also from his debut album Ou La La. During the period of about 1988-2008 Martelly, using his stage name Sweet Micky, recorded fourteen studio albums and a number of live CDs. His music features slow méringue, compas, troubadour, carnival méringue, rabòday, etc.

In 1997, Martelly's crossover appeal to other musical genres was evident when hip hop star, Wyclef Jean of The Fugees featured him on the title track for Jean's solo effort Wyclef Jean Presents The Carnival featuring the Refugee Allstars. As Jean proclaims on 'The Carnival,' "Surprise - it's Sweet Micky, y'all!" Also in 1997, Martelly released an album containing one of his most celebrated hits, Pa Manyen ("Don't Touch"). The song is an adaptation of "Angola", composed by the renowned artist/composer/record producer Ramiro Mendes (of the Mendes Brothers), first recorded by Cesária Évora, the legendary Cape Verdean singer. Pa Manyen went on to be featured in various compilation albums, including the popular Putumayo Presents: French Caribbean in 2003. The song was also covered by Venezuelan singer, Soledad Bravo as "Canta, Canta Corazon" and by Jose Luiz Cortes of Cuba. See also the Mendes Brothers' original version of the song, performed by Ramiro Mendes included in the group's 1997 album—Para Angola Com Um Xi Coracao. Martelly is also notorious for his cursing on stage, cross-dressing as well as using homophobic slurs. His celebrity status as a popular compas musician would become a major factor in his popularity as a politician. [12]

Political career

In 1992, Martelly played for free at a protest against the arrival of a UN representative charged with negotiating the return of Jean-Bertrand Aristide after the 1991 Haitian coup d'état. [2] Martelly later explained "I did not want Aristide back... You want me to be a de facto [supporter of the coup]. I'm a de facto. It's my right. It's my country. I can fight for whatever I believe in." [2] After Jean-Bertrand Aristide had been restored to office, some former military officers, paramilitaries and secret police associated with the old regime were assassinated. In February 1995, a "hit list" of such individuals was circulated, and included Martelly's name. After an individual on the list was murdered, Martelly's wife warned him not to come back from his tour, and it was almost a year before he returned to Haiti. [4] During this time he released a song, Prezidan, "an exuberant ditty that called for a president who played compas". [4] At the 1996 Carnival, to which Manno Charlemagne, the mayor of Port-au-Prince, invited him, Martelly dressed in a pink wig and bra. [4] As Martelly explained, it was intended in part as a political statement:

"If you see me as a Macoute, then I'm a Macoute. If you see me as gay, I'm gay. What you think of me is no problem, as far as I am concerned. You have the right to think what you want. I know who I am, and that's the main thing." [4]

In 1997, Martelly participated in "Knowledge is Power", an HIV educational music video with a message about preventing the spread of HIV. His humanitarian work as the president of the Fondation Rose et Blanc, created by his wife Sophia and himself, to help the poor and disenfranchised of the country, was the basis for his choice as the Good Will Haitian Ambassador for the Protection of the Environment by the Haitian Government.

In 2004, following the 2004 Haitian coup d'état against Aristide, Gérard Latortue, a friend of Martelly's, became Prime Minister. [2] At this time, Martelly was living in Florida but in 2007, he moved back to Haiti. In the process, when the mortgage/financial sector crashed, he defaulted on more than $1m in loans, losing 3 properties to foreclosure. [2]

Following the 2010 earthquake, Martelly ran for President of Haiti in the general elections. He benefited from his celebrity status as a musician, and held musical rallies called koudjay (musical political endorsement rallies), drawing crowds and media attention. [12] He also benefited from the support of Bill Clinton (UN Special Envoy to Haiti) and the active support of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. [13] He challenged the results as to whether he placed second, making the runoff, or third. On 3 February 2011, it was announced that he would participate in a run-off election scheduled for 20 March 2011. [14] On 4 April 2011, a senior official announced that Martelly had won the presidential run-off election against candidate Mirlande Manigat with more than 60% of the vote. [15]

In 2015 an award-winning feature documentary, Sweet Micky for President was released. The film intimately chronicles Martelly's campaign journey as told through one of his first supporters, Pras Michel [16] of the Fugees. The film was directed by Ben Patterson [17] and released on Showtime [18]


After the devastating earthquake, Martelly was sworn in as President of Haiti on 14 May 2011, marking the first time in Haitian history that an incumbent president's peacefully transferred power to a member of the opposition. On the anniversary of the earthquake, the incumbent Haitian Prime Minister, Jean-Max Bellerive, resigned to allow Martelly to choose his own Prime Minister. [19] Martelly was quick to pledge reforms for the post-earthquake reconstruction process. [20]

In August 2011, Martelly announced a plan to reinstate the nation's military. This plan was controversial as many human rights activists were concerned about the return of a military responsible for many atrocities in the past. [21]

In September 2011, Martelly formed an advisory board that included business executives, bankers, and politicians such as former U.S. President Bill Clinton, which he hoped would improve the economy . [22]

In February 2012, Martelly's Prime Minister Garry Conille resigned after having been in office five months. He was replaced in May by Laurent Lamothe, the Haitian Foreign Minister.

Between March and April 2012, Martelly was accused of corruption, with allegations that during and after the 2010 earthquake and presidential election, he had accepted $2.6 million in bribes to ensure that a Dominican Republic construction company would continue to receive contracts under his Presidency. Martelly denied the allegations. [23] Companies owned or controlled by Félix Bautista had received no-bid contracts worth $200 million, awarded by former Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive. [24] In November 2013, anti-government protests were held in the country over the high cost of living and corruption. [25]

Mid-term Senate elections had been originally due in May 2012, while the municipal poll was three years behind schedule. They were again postponed on 26 October 2014—the day they were due to be held—because of an ongoing stalemate between the government and a group of opposition senators over an electoral law. The Haitian government faced months of protests over the delayed elections. Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe resigned on 14 December and was replaced by Evans Paul. But street protests continued, with renewed calls for the president's resignation.

On 13 January 2015, the parliament was dissolved after its term expired and four days later, thousands of protesters in Port-au-Prince again demanded the president's resignation. Police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the crowd. Martelly urged protesters to respect public order and said he had reached a deal with the opposition to form a consensus government within the next 48 hours. [26] New election dates were announced in March 2015, both for parliament and for president. Martelly was ineligible to run again as Haiti's constitution does not allow for consecutive terms. [27]

On 9 August 2015, the first election Haiti had under President Michel Martelly took place. The citizens voted in the first round to fill two-thirds of the 30-member Senate and the entire 119-member Chamber of Deputies. In the capital, groups of young men ripped up paper ballots as heavily armed police shot into the air to re-establish order. Rocks were thrown in response before authorities closed the polling station. Local media reported the closure of numerous polling places in other parts of the country and scattered arrests of people accused of voting more than once. 54 polling stations, roughly 5 percent of the total, were closed amid violence and other disruptions. The first round of Haiti's presidential election was scheduled for 25 October 2015. [28]

Presidential elections were held in Haiti on 25 October 2015, alongside local elections and the second round of the legislative elections. [29] The runoff of this election were scheduled for 27 December 2015. [30] According to preliminary results posted by the Provisional Electoral Council, Jovenel Moïse obtained 32.81% of the preferences, and Jude Célestin won 25.27%. [31]

After the preliminary results were published on 25 October 2015, Jude Célestin said he did not recognize them. His criticism was joined by five other presidential candidates. They issued a joint statement denouncing the results as "anti-democratic" and called for the people’s vote to be respected. Martelly openly declared his support for Moïse. [32] The supporters of Célestin protested in the streets, together with the supporters of Jean-Charles Moïse’s Platfom Pitit Desalin and supporters of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas party the presidential candidate of which, Maryse Narcisse, finished fourth behind Jean-Charles Moïse and also denounced the results during a news conference. The protesters threw rocks and burned tires. The police responded with tear gas and made some arrests. The police also stopped and searched the vehicle of a former top government prosecutor, Claudy Gassant, who is a supporter of Moïse. [33]

Martelly resigned the presidency on 10 February 2016, leaving Haiti without a president for a week. On 17 February 2016, he was succeeded by Jocelerme Privert who served as interim president. [34] [35] Amid allegations of fraud in the 2015 elections, Privert created a month-long verification commission to restore legitimacy to the electoral process. In May 2016, the commission audited ~13,000 ballots and determined that the elections had been dishonest and recommended a complete redo of the election. [36] [37]

In 2015, Pras of the Fugees completed a documentary entitled Sweet Micky For President, chronicling the rise of Martelly through his election to fight corruption as President of Haiti. The film had its World premiere at the 2015 Slamdance Film Festival. [38]

Personal life and later music career

Martelly divorced his first wife, an American citizen, in 1986. [9]

Martelly currently lives in Haiti, but held several homes in Palm Beach, Florida. He lives with his wife and former manager, Sophia Saint–Rémy, and their four children, Olivier, Sandro, Yani, and Malaika. [39] 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. [40]

In April 2012, Martelly was flown to the United States for treatment of what was later diagnosed as a pulmonary embolism. [1] It was attributed to the immobilisation of his arm necessitated by recent shoulder surgery. [41]

In December 2018, a video surfaced of the former President being assaulted by a pedestrian in Jamaica while police looked on. The individual was not arrested and left without being charged.


Woule Woule1989StudioGeronimoMichel Martelly
Anba Rad La1990StudioAPMichel Martelly
The Sweetest1992StudioJosyMichel Martelly
Min Koze-A1993StudioJosyMichel Martelly
I Don't Care1994StudioJosyMichel Martelly
Pa Manyen1995StudioJosyMichel Martelly
Tout Cé Mately1996StudioDéclicMichel Martelly
Aloufa1997StudioAntillesMichel Martelly
Best of Sweet Micky1997CompilationDéclicSweet Micky
100.000 Volts1998StudioMini RecordsMichel Martelly
An Bolewo 1998LiveAnsonSweet Micky
Dènye Okazyon1999StudioGeronimoMichel Martelly
Jojo Ban'm Nouvel Micky 1999LiveExitMichel Martelly
100% KaKa 1999LiveMad DogSweet Micky
Michel Martelly Live2000LiveCréonSweet Micky
SiSiSi2001StudioCréonMichel Martelly
Live au café des arts: Vol. 2 2001LiveGeronimoSweet Micky
200% KaKa 2001Studio/LiveMad DogSweet Micky
Rale Kow La ????LiveGeronimoSweet Micky
400% KaKa 2002LiveMad DogSweet Micky
Live at Best Western2002LiveGeronimoSweet Micky
Best of Michel Martelly2002CompilationCréonMichel Martelly
Totot2003StudioADSweet Micky
Micky Chez Lui (Micky Bolero 2)2003ExitSweet Micky
Sweet Micky Live2003LiveGeronimoSweet Micky
New Repertoire 2004LiveExitSweet Micky
Babaille Micky Mix2004ExitSweet Micky
GNB2005StudioD-FactoSweet Micky
Sweet Micky with Robert Martino: Live Vol. 12005LiveTouche DouceSweet Micky
Sweet Micky with Robert Martino: Live Vol. 12005LiveTouche DouceSweet Micky
Micky ap Trip 2005LiveExitSweet Micky
Sweet Micky & Djakout: Live 20062006LiveFeelingSweet Micky
Jojo Ban'm Nouvel Micky2006LiveExitMichel Martelly
Sweet Micky vs Dega2007LiveArnoldSweet Micky
Live in Miami (Ouvè Kôw)2007LiveAcoustiqueSweet Micky
Blazin' Live2007LiveExitSweet Micky
Bandi Légal2008StudioAntillesSweet Micky
Micky & Sons2008AntillesSweet Micky
Vin' Pran Konpa 2008StudioPatrickSweet Micky
Konpa Prezidantiyèl 2010LiveSweet MickySweet Micky
Prézidan Éspwa Vote #8 2011StudioArnoldZicSweet Micky

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  1. 1 2 Jaqueline Charles, Miami Herald , 25 April 2012, Haiti president says he came close to death
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Michael E. Miller, 9 June 2011, New Times Broward-Palm Beach , Michel Martelly Is Haiti's New President. But the Former Palm Beach County Resident Has a Dark Side
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Political offices
Preceded by
René Préval
President of Haiti
Succeeded by
Jocelerme Privert