|Martelly sparks tension for congressional campaigns|
|Friday, 04 May 2012 11:16|
President Michel Martelly has returned to Port-au-Prince following his recovery from a dangerous blood clot in Miami. The president however left a diplomatic controversy in his wake after publically urging the Haitian Diaspora in South Florida to support congressional candidate, Dr. Rudy Moise.
Dr. Moise is set to campaign against incumbent Democrat Congresswoman Frederica Wilson in the primary race in the newly formed 24th district, which has seen an influx of new voters, particularly Hispanic, following the redrawing of the district's boundaries. In the 2010 campaign, Moise was one of four Haitian-Americans who vied for the same seat, which then had split the Haitian-American vote in favor of Congresswoman Wilson.
In an interview with a local radio station however, President Martelly urged Haitian-American voters to unify behind Moise.
"It is very important for Haiti to stand behind Rudy Moise," said Martelly. "Haiti could benefit from the post...Haiti feels that it needs this support; it needs this key."
The comment has sparked concerns about foreign nationals influencing U.S. elections, particularly following Martelly's pledge "to put my friends with him [Moise]...to put people who do fundraising with him." But according to U.S. law, foreign nationals are banned from contributing to the campaigns of political candidates.
Congresswoman Wilson quickly responded to Martelly's comments, confirming to the Miami Herald her rejection of "efforts to divide my Congressional district into Haitians versus African Americans" in the August 14 primary race.
Moise currently is the only Haitian-American campaign against Wilson in the primary. But since entering office, Wilson has made prominent efforts to court Haitian-American voters and retain their support in her district. She has made several diplomatic trips to Haiti following the devastating 2010 earthquake. She also sponsored new immigration polices that expanded temporary protective status (TPS) for Haitian immigrants. Haitian workers now can apply for the H-2A and H-2B nonimmigrant visa program for seasonal workers. No progress has been made however on efforts to speed up the release of approved family-based visas for Haitians – a key legislative issue for the Haitian-American community in South Florida.
Both Moise and Wilson were recognized for their efforts to support the Haitian Diaspora in South Florida by the Ministry of Haitians Living Abroad during the "Week of the Diaspora" celebrations this past April.