By Joseph Guyler C. Delva
CAP-HAITIEN, Haiti (HCNN) –Supporters of the administration of Haitian president Michel Martelly and the government of Prime minister Laurent Lamothe, took to the streets by the thousands on Thursday, as Haiti’s top two leaders walked through the Northern town of Cap-Haitien where a newly-built international airport has just been inaugurated.
The large crowd — arguably estimated at 50,000 to 60,000 by some and up to 100,000 by others — were chanting slogans favorable to the Martelly-Lamothe government they say is bringing development to the northern region through the various projects that are being implemented in that part of the country.
“I am 55-years old and I’ve never seen such development efforts in Cap-Haitien and in the north in general,” Jacquelin Louis, a pro-government marcher, told the Haitian-Caribbean News Network (HCNN) on Thursday.
“Thank you! Thank you, President Martelly! Thank you Prime minister Lamothe for all the projects and achievements,” said Marline Sincère, 24, brandishing a poster of Martelly in her right hand.
A series of projects in education, health, agriculture and road infrastructure and support initiatives to provide basic services have been implemented or are underway. A huge unprecedented social assistance program, called “EDE PEP (Help The People)” has also been launched in the benefit of the most vulnerable.
“There are many people who are still living in poverty in Cap-Haitien and in many other places, but we should recognize that this government has shown a very particular interest and energy to change the situation,” said Joel Maximin, a social science teacher, who was part of the pro-government demonstration.
“So many problems are still left without answer, but you have a feeling that if they had more means they would have done much more,” said Maximin who did not vote for Martelly during the 2011 presidential election.
“I did not vote for him because I did not think he could have the capacity to lead the country in the right direction because he was just a musician,” he said. ” But after what I’ve seen, if I had to vote today I would for him with all my strength,” said Maximin.
Many marchers also congratulated the dynamism of Prime minister Laurent Lamothe they described as a judicious choice for the post of Prime minister.
“I believe Prime minister Lamothe is doing a great job implementing the vision of President Martelly and I hope he will be able to take over when President Martelly ends his term,” said 26-year-old Simone Berlanger.
“As President Martelly said, several times, if we want the projects and the ongoing progress to continue, we need to make sure we vote the right people, in the next election,” Berlanger told HCNN. “And I got the message,” she assured.
However, another portion of the population, led by opposition leaders, sees the Martelly administration differently and even calls for the resignation of current government authorities.
Several thousand people demonstrated on Tuesday to voice opposition to Martelly’s management of the country’s affairs. “Martelly and Lamothe should give up power or we’ll force them from power,” chanted on Tuesday a number of opposition demonstrators in the capital Port-au-Prince.
Answering to those calls for his resignation, Martelly argued that his opponents are only trying to block progress in a desperate move to prevent him from getting credit, even though that is to the detriment the collective interest of the Haitian people.
“Those who say Martelly should leave do not want the tuition-free education program benefiting our children to continue, when they say Martelly should leave that means they don’t want ongoing progress in infrastructure, tourism, agriculture, security, the social empowerment of the poor… to continue,” said Martelly.
“But regardless of what they say, I will continue to face the challenges, and I have a dynamic and hardworking Prime minister who shares my vision and who is doing his best, despite the lack of means,” explained Martelly, calling on all Haitians to bring their contribution to the building effort of the country.