Some Haitian musicians are accusing President Michel Martelly of censoring their music due to its anti-government message. Members of one of the bands, scheduled to perform during the country’s carnival, claim that they were dis-invited because of several songs attacking Martelly’s administration. Once known as “Sweet Micky,” Martelly made a name for himself as one of Haiti’s most sought-after musicians, with a penchant for anti-establishment antics throughout his career. Now in his second year as Haiti’s president, the perceived censorship has brought cries of hypocrisy.
“As young artists, we learned how to do this from him, watching him denounce government after government,” Don Kato of the band Brothers Posse said, according to the Miami Herald. Brothers Posse’s protest of the alleged ban has sparked a nationwide controversy in the midst of the Mardi Gras carnival. “It makes no sense that as an artist I can’t sing about the environment I am living in, and you want to sanction me because I’m not singing in favor of you.”
Martelly did not deny the claims of the group during interviews, admitting that music has the power to “overthrow a government.” However in his defense, he attributed the ban to an administrative decision, and a change in the culture of the carnival. During an interview with local radio station Scoop FM, Martelly said that the group’s music did not bother him, adding that no artist has a right to perform during the celebration.
“It’s a party that’s being organized; it’s not a protest,” Martelly said. “The carnival is not like it was a long time ago. Before it was do as you like, take to the streets.”
The president claimed that he was only responsible for the selection of three of the bands originally selected to perform, the rest being chosen by an appointed committee. He claimed that the list of performers was leaked prematurely, and that he chose to remove Brothers Posse after reviewing the selections. Committee president Gilbert Bailly later reported that the bands were selected at random, according to the Miami Herald.
Kato and the other members of Brothers Posse still believe that they were removed from the carnival due to political reasons, and that Martelly should not have full control over the line-up.
“We are not into politics, but we cannot sit quiet and not express the suffering our brothers and sisters are living in,” Kato said. “What I am singing is what the people are saying. They are not lies, so if he thinks I am against him, then the whole population is against him.”
You can see and judge Brother Posse’s song and video below.