Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly, president-elect of Haiti, visited Miami earlier today to announce new surcharges designed to fund education in the earthquake-ravaged country.
Speaking in both English and Kreyol at the Little Haiti Cultural Center, Martelly said that deepening ties to Miami's Haitian-American community was one of his priorities for his first 100 days in office. He also announced that his administration would tax wire transfers and phone calls from the U.S. to Haiti in order to send nearly a million Haitian children to school.
"Education is the future of Haiti," Martelly said. "The diaspora will be able to send 860,000 kids to school and change their lives."
Martelly said he will use one percent of wire transfers from the U.S. to Haiti to create a $50 million fund to build new schools. His administration will also add a five-cent-per-minute charge to U.S.-Haiti phone calls. Together, the surcharges on the diaspora will raise an estimated $86 million per year, he said.
But Martelly was evasive when asked where his administration would find 30,000 teachers to fill the schools.
"The problem with the teachers is not the only problem when it comes to taking kids back to school," he said.
Martelly also dodged questions about how his administration will combat the widespread graft and murky accounting that has dogged previous presidencies and could make Haitian-Americans wary of contributing.
"The government previous had other priorities (than transparency)," he said. "It's unfortunate that we have to carry on this past problem, but we are pledging to change all this. We are pledging to work in a really transparent manner." He added that he will allow the country's judicial system more autonomy.
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Unfortunately, Martelly -- best known for racy compas performances before his unlikely presidential run -- continued his campaign habit of wearing a crisp suit and tie.
Riptide liked his old look much better: