On Monday, Haitian President Michel Martelly quietly flew to Miami for medical treatment of a blood clot in his shoulder. In case anyone in Little Haiti needed a stark reminder of how fragile their homeland's stability remains, as Martelly recuperated yesterday in a Miami hospital, busloads of armed ex-soldiers stormed Haiti's parliament.
The former soldiers claimed to want only to "speak" with the lower house, but they weren't opposed to pointing their weapons at the lawmakers. "They were well-equipped and kept pressuring [us]," Levaillant Louis-Jeune tells the Miami Herald.
Haiti's military has been officially disbanded since 1995, after the armed forces were used repressively for decades by the Duvalier dictatorships.
But scores of former and wannabe soldiers still live on abandoned bases around the country, and yesterday they banded together to move on parliament after learning of a supposed plan to kick them off the land, the Miami Herald reports.
It's not clear how serious a threat the incursion represents; despite being armed and mostly in uniform, the group is clearly a ragtag bunch that mostly pressured lawmakers to hurry through a meeting to fast-track the appointment of a new prime minister.
But in a coup-prone nation, any armed action on lawmakers while the president is out of the country and ailing has to cause unease.
Martelly's blood clot was apparently a complication from shoulder surgery he underwent in Miami last month. A spokesman tells the Herald that his condition was never life-threatening, but a medical expert argues that blood clots can indeed be fatal if not "quickly" treated.
The president's spokesman declined to say how long Martelly would be staying in Miami.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.