The Haitian Radio landscape of North Miami during an election period is a veritable game of thrones. With a whole third of the North Miami population being of Haitian descent, hopefuls for the city council and the position of mayor take to the ever important airwaves to sway the votes of this influential number.
The importance of Creole radio in North Miami is unquestionable. Even non-Creole speaking candidates and other interested parties keep themselves abreast of what is being broadcast because, quite often, the elections all but play out over the radio waves. The relationship to the Haitian residents of North Miami and their radio stations is not always a healthy one. They hang so trustingly upon the words of the broadcasters that the truth and lies are often accepted unquestioningly. Therefore, any candidate serious for election must keep on top of what is being said about them on radio. They must not only police what others are saying, but be a source of information by having a decisive presence on the most popular stations and talk-shows.
Miami is home to one of the biggest populations of the Haitian Diaspora, 30% of North Miami's residents. Créole is the primary and perhaps only language they speak. When candidates run for office in North Miami, they depend on Haitian radio to present themselves to listeners.
The Haitian community in North Miami does not have access to media, such as public access TV. If a community newspaper exists, illiteracy among them keeps information undigested. What is left for those voters is Haitian radio.
Haitian radio hosts exercise unbridled influence. What they say--whether true or not--is received by their Créole-speaking audience as God's truth. At its best, Haitian radio keeps listeners abreast of local council developments, at its worse, conversations devolve into race baiting and political name-calling.
Civic leader and Haitian-American, Lucie Tondreau, has become North Miami's first female mayor. She beat incumbent Kevin Burns with nearly two-thirds of the vote, in an uncontested election.
Seven-year old Lucie and her family escaped Haiti in 1967 during the violent dictatorship of Jean-Claude Duvalier. They relocated to Montréal where Lucie grew up. After traveling in the Caribbean and Africa, Lucie returned to New York and worked as a journalist, becoming deeply involved in the Haitian Diaspora community. She hosted both her own television and radio programs, and wrote on Diaspora issues.
Lucie eventually realized she could be of more service to Haitians arriving in Miami, who needed help assimilating. She re-settled permanently in Miami, and became a champion for voting and human rights issues. She also participated in delivering aid support to survivors when natural disasters occurred in Miami (a hurricane) and Haiti (the earthquake), in 2005 and 2010.
The amusing lively election in North Miami have failed to reach a conclusion. With 23 out of 30 districts reporting, the 2 council elections and the Mayoral election are now headed towards inconclusive results and none of the candidates have received 50% votes. The report was unofficial.
Kevin Burns and Lucie Tondreau were competing for the Mayor's office. Kevin, who was formerly a mayor of North Miami, received 33.2% votes while Lucie, an activist of Haitian community, received 27.5% votes.
For the council election in District two, the two competitors were Carol Keys who captured 49.5 % votes and Mary Irvin who captured a modest 26.4% of the votes. Philippe Bien-Aime, a new face in politics, captured 41.3% of the total votes while the opponent - the former councilman of the city, Jacques Despinosse managed to bag a mere 27.4% of the total votes.
There are a few tried and true avenues through which a country can establish its name on the world map. Its people, its culture, its art and music, sports, government, etc. all can be conduits through which a country's popularity rises worldwide. Haiti has had successes in these fields and more before, but, the earthquake of January 2010 usurped the top spot and put the name Haiti into the minds of the world's people in a context of pity and sorrow. Ever since then, the fight to reclaim the country's popularity in a more positive attitude has been waged by the tourism sector.
The municipal election in North Miami is over and the Haitian community has elected two of its own to represent them in the management of the city.
Haitian American Lucie Tondreau, has been elected mayor of North Miami, holding for the first time an elected position. She faced in the second round the former Mayor of the City, Kevin Burns
Philippe Bien-Aime, a newcomer in politic, won over Jacques Despinosse, another Haitian American with 2/3s of the vote to become District 3 City Council.
Mayoral candidate from North Miami, Anna Pierre, is one among eight people fighting for the post. Anna Pierre is a popular figure. She is a well-known nurse and a singer. Mete Suk Sou Bonbon - her hit song of the 1990's scaled up her popularity. She asked people from 3 countries to pray for her because there is someone who is using anonymous calls from blocked numbers along with sinister sorcery to prevent her from becoming mayor. Anna Pierre said that she found needle poked small dolls and ample amount of pennies in front of her office and being a person from Haiti, she knows the meaning of those things. She indicated towards voodoo practices being used by someone to throw her out of the race. Anna said that people from U.S., Canada and Haiti are praying for her and that she is not afraid because Jesus is with her.
North Miami Mayor Andre Pierre is being criticized for keeping undercover his role as advisor to Cayemite Enterprises (CE), who plans to build a luxury resort on Petite Cayemite Island near the coast of Haiti. Developer Michael Swerdlow of Oleta Partners (OP) is also an advisor to CE as well as an investor. Both he and Pierre have connections to Biscayne Landing (BL) project, a property of North Miami. CE stakeholders are also executives at Swerdlow's OP, and have connections to the BL project.
Mayor Andre Pierre wants to invest in CE. But the city charter bans officials from conducting business with city vendors like CE. Because Pierre is not known to make money in any capacity he has with CE, it's not certain if his investing in CE would be a violation of the charter terms.
The ceremony took place on Monday, November 28, 2011 at North City Hall. Marc Elias became the First Haitian-American Chief of Police for North Miami also the first for a major city in the United States.
This proves that we can do a lot as individuals. If we unite our forces, we can do even greater things. There were several high dignitaries who were present at the ceremony for Oath of Office for Marc Elias. Jean Monestime first Haitian-American Miami-Dade County Commissioner, Daphne D. Campbell, State Representative, Former Mayor of North Miami, First Haitian-American Mayor of North Miami, Joe Celestin, Andre Pierre, Mayor of the city of North Miami, Florida, Jean R. Marcellus and Councilman of North Miami, District 3. Also present were Lucie Tondreau and Deputy Arnel Belizaire.
When speaking of Haitian cuisine, the Moca Café and Lounge is the first and best place that comes to mind. It is located in the downtown area of North Miami and is named after the nearby North Miami Museum of Contemporary Art. They offer authentic Haitian dishes and is a good place for a taste of the famous Haitian Creole.
MOCA Cafe was recently renovated where they went for a more stylish and contemporary look with its new sky-high ceilings, glossy tables and black leather benches and of course, upbeat Haitian music in the background. Moca is run by owners' Hamler R. Noel and Jean M. Cerenord who have been business partners for about seventeen years.
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