Senator Moïse Jean-Charles
says that he has proof that Haitian President Michel Martelly is
a citizen of the U.S. and Italy.
If the charge is
true, it means that Martelly would have lied to Haitian
electoral authorities when submitting his candidacy in 2010.
Haitian presidential candidates cannot hold dual citizenship
under Haiti’s unamended 1987 Constitution, which was still in
force when Martelly ran his presidential campaign.
The U.S. State Department gave
an evasive response to Haïti Liberté’s request for
clarification of Martelly’s alleged U.S. citizenship.
Jean-Charles, who represents
Haiti’s North department, also said he has evidence that three
other high-ranking officials in the government of Martelly’s
Prime Minister Garry Conille also have dual nationality.
According to the senator, Foreign Minister Laurent Lamothe is
Bolivian, Tourism Minister Stephanie Balmir Villedrouin is
Venezuelan, and the Interior Ministry’s Secretary of State
Georges Racine is a U.S. citizen.
Meanwhile, Sen. Jean William Jeanty of the Nippes department said in a radio interview that
he suspects Prime Minister Conille of being Canadian because
Conille’s passport, when inspected by senators in his nomination
review process, showed no markings of his travel to Canada, where
many of his close family members reside. Conille provided no
other documents indicating any travel to Canada, which makes Jeanty suspect that Conille holds a Canadian passport.
Sen. Jean-Charles told Haïti
Liberté that he had received a copy of Martelly’s foreign
passport from a woman residing in the Dominican Republic named
Maria Vultudes. She is allegedly a former girlfriend of Martelly
and now feels wronged.
On Jan. 9, the Haitian
Parliament began its new session. Up until then, Jean-Charles
chaired the nine-member Senate Commission investigating the
possible dual nationalities of high-ranking Haitian government
officials. But on that Monday, Southeast Sen. Joseph Lambert and
Artibonite Sen. Youri Latortue, both Martelly allies, were
installed as the Commission’s new president and secretary
“They carried out a coup
d’état in the Commission while I was not there,” Sen.
Jean-Charles told Haïti Liberté.
Jean-Charles has submitted what
he believes to be incontrovertible evidence to the Commission,
which should issue a report soon. “My parliamentary
colleagues, Commission members, are in front of a fait accompli,”
Jean-Charles told the Haitian Press Agency. “They will not be
able to back-up even if they are personal friends of the chief
Latortue and Lambert helped
Martelly last month by using their powerful positions on the
Commission looking into the illegal arrest of Deputy Arnel
Bélizaire in November. The two senators effectively blocked the
likely removal of Interior Minister Thierry Mayard Paul, a close
Martelly advisor and ally, who personally played a role in and
was directly responsible for Bélizaire’s arrest.
In July, a source who had been
in close contact with the Haitian president in the past told
Haïti Liberté that Martelly has had a U.S. passport since
the 1990s. The source asked not to be identified.
Pursuing other leads and rumors
about Martelly’s U.S. passport last May just days before his
inauguration, Haïti Liberté was given the following
response from a State Department official: “To the best of
our knowledge, the Department of State has no reason to believe
that Haitian President-elect Martelly now holds, or has ever
held, U.S. citizenship.”
The State Department’s
curiously conditional and open-ended response to what should be
a simple yes-or-no question only increases suspicion about
Martelly’s U.S. citizenship.
A State Department spokeswoman
told Haïti Liberté that it cannot reveal information
about people’s citizenship due to U.S. privacy laws.
If he does hold foreign
citizenship, Martelly could be forced to step down by the
Parliament established as a High Court of Justice. Other
high-government officials, like Lamothe, Villedrouin and Racine,
would also have to be removed under the Haitian Constitution.
Article 135 of the unamended
1987 Haitian Constitution states that to “be elected
President of the Republic of Haiti, a candidate must... never
have renounced Haitian nationality.” Article 15 stipulates:
“Dual Haitian and foreign nationality is in no case
Faced with persistent rumors
prior to his inauguration, Martelly denied ever “renouncing”
his Haitian citizenship but never explicitly denied having had
U.S. citizenship. “I'm Haitian,” he declared in April
2011. “I never renounced my citizenship.”
Martelly has not publicly
reacted to Jean-Charles’ latest charges.
Beginning in May 2011, a
purported photograph of the identification page of Martelly’s
U.S. passport – numbered 043911220 and dated for only five years
– circulated on the Internet, but it was quickly flagged as a
If Martelly does have a foreign
passport, his disqualification as president would be
straightforward because the transgression would have occurred
prior to his May 14, 2011 inauguration.
The matter is more complicated
if the allegations about the other ministers and the suspicions
about Prime Minister Conille prove true. This is because the
Haitian Constitution is presently in limbo.
In 2010, the Parliament amended
the Constitution to allow dual citizenship, among many other
changes. But amendments passed under one president don’t take
effect until after the inauguration of the next head of state.
The amended Constitution was signed by then President René
Préval and published on March 16, 2011 in the government journal
Le Moniteur. That publication makes Haitian laws
But some senators cried foul
because the wording of seven of the amendments had apparently
been changed. The amendments were set aside for review, and
Haiti has since been functioning under the original charter.
After months of haggling,
reviewing tapes, and rewriting with civil society oversight, the
Parliament sent a corrected, amended Constitution to the
executive for signing, but a new dilemma emerged. Who should
sign the document: Préval or Martelly?
The legal community, human
rights groups, and even the Parliament are gravely split on how
to resolve this new constitutional conundrum, leaving the old
Constitution still in effect.
Meanwhile, Sen. Moïse
Jean-Charles claims he has been receiving many death threats
since leveling his charges against President Martelly. Call-in
radio talk shows buzzing with speculation about the
confrontation inevitably end with callers warning Jean-Charles
to take strong measures to ensure his security.
“I am not afraid and will see this matter through
to the end,” the senator declared.