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dimanche 15 mai 2011

La República Dominicana anula los derechos a miles de inmigrantes y a sus hijos

Ezra Fieser, La Romana (República Dominicana) GlobalPost
Algunos son inmigrantes haitianos llegados hace más de tres décadas al país, y ahora tienen problemas para renovar sus documentos. Pero el problema también es para sus hijos, inmigrantes de segunda generación, a los que ningún otro país les reconoce. Al fin y al cabo, han nacido y vivido siempre en territorio dominicano.
Juan acumuló fama como médico y líder político local, además de por ser el director del hospital público de la ciudad. Carmen se dedicó a criar a sus cuatro hijos y solía viajar con regularidad a EEUU para visitar a algunos familiares. “Nos hemos pasado toda la vida aquí. Todavía vivimos en la misma ciudad en la que nacimos”, asegura.
Sin embargo, a ojos del Gobierno de la República Dominicana, Carmen no es dominicana ni jamás lo ha sido.
A miles de personas que nacieron en suelo dominicano pero son hijos de inmigrantes ilegales, les están diciendo ahora que no son ciudadanos del país caribeño. Pero como muchas de estas personas han vivido en la República Dominicana toda su vida, ningún otro país les reconoce como ciudadanos.
Carmen ha tenido que solicitar tres veces la copia compulsada de su certificado de nacimiento, necesaria para renovar su pasaporte. Le dicen que como su madre era inmigrante ilegal haitiana, ella no puede tener la ciudadanía dominicana.
“La primera vez que nos lo dijeron fue todo un shock. Nunca hemos estado en Haití, pero sin embargo, ¿le dicen que ella no es dominicana porque su madre era haitiana?”, exclama su marido. “Estoy indignado”.
En 2004 el gobierno dominicano aprobó una ley de inmigración que negaban el derecho de ciudadanía por nacimiento a los hijos de personas “en tránsito” en el momento del parto. Las autoridades de la isla entienden por “en tránsito” a los inmigrantes ilegales, principalmente haitianos. Tras varios recursos legales en tribunales nacionales e internacionales, el Gobierno adoptó el año pasado una nueva constitución, que puntualiza que los hijos de extranjeros ilegales en el país no tienen derecho a la ciudadanía dominicana.
El gobierno está aplicando ahora la ley de manera retroactiva a los hijos de los haitianos que cruzaron la frontera de la isla hace décadas. Como consecuencia de esta medida, miles de personas han visto denegadas sus solicitudes de documentos oficiales. Esos documentos son necesarios para hacer cualquier cosa, desde casarse hasta acudir a la universidad o viajar.
Grupos de derechos humanos dicen que una cantidad exorbitante de afectados son hijos de haitianos. La Organización Internacional para las Migraciones calcula que hay en torno a 1,2 millones de haitianos viviendo ahora en la República Dominicana. Las estimaciones del Gobierno varían sustancialmente.
Para algunos, se trata de un nuevo giro de tuerca en las complicadas relaciones haitiano-dominicanas. Aunque comparten la isla de La Española, los dos países son muy distintos, cultural y económicamente.
Esas diferencias llevaron al dictador dominicano Rafael Trujillo a ordenar en 1937 la matanza de los haitianos que vivían cerca de la frontera. Las históricas tensiones se han vuelto a reavivar recientemente.
“Estas eran personas con derecho a la ciudadanía por la constitución vigente en el momento de su nacimiento. No se puede aplicar retroactivamente una ley que le quita a alguien su ciudadanía”, asegura Marselha Gonçalves-Margerin, del Centro Robert F. Kennedy para la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos.
En gran parte del mundo no se otorga la ciudadanía de un país basándose tan sólo en el derecho por nacimiento. Pero en el continente americano, nacer en un país se considera suficiente para obtener la nacionalidad de ese lugar.
La República Dominicana es el retrato de lo que ocurre cuando un país cambia las reglas, aseguran los grupos de activistas que se oponen a la medida. “Hay gente que lleva décadas aquí. Son médicos, abogados, jugadores de béisbol... personas que podrían ser los próximos líderes del país. Y se les está quitando la nacionalidad”, indica Liliana Gamboa, representante del Open Society Institute, que ha financiado el recurso ante los tribunales de las leyes de ciudadanía dominicanas.
“La idea de que el sistema está basado en la raza o que de algún modo es racista es un error”, asegura Brígida Sabino, directora de la división del Registro Civil a cargo de emitir los documentos oficiales para la ciudadanía. “La verdad es que esta situación afecta tanto a los dominicanos como a los extranjeros”, dice, aunque no puede aportar estadísticas para corroborar su afirmación.
El gobierno dominicano ha invertido más de 70 millones de euros, prestados en su mayoría por el Banco Mundial, en modernizar su sistema de Registro Civil. Se han escaneado y digitalizado unos 20 millones de documentos legales; de todo, desde certificados de nacimiento hasta certificados de matrimonio. Y durante este proceso se ha descubierto un fraude masivo cometido con el antiguo sistema de registro.
“Hubo gente que utilizó la identificación de sus vecinos para registrar a sus hijos, porque querían que fuesen dominicanos”, asegura Miguel Ángel García, que está supervisando este proceso de modernización gubernamental.
El Gobierno está investigando los casos sospechosos, y mientras tanto está denegando nuevos documentos a cualquiera de las personas que hayan hecho saltar las alarmas. Si la investigación revela que la persona en cuestión es hija de inmigrantes ilegales, no puede solicitar la ciudadanía, explica García.
En el caso de José Remie significa que ninguno de sus nueve hijos es ciudadano dominicano. Fue un empresario dominicano el que contrató a este haitiano hace décadas en su ciudad natal, Puerto Príncipe, para trabajar como bracero en sus campos de caña de azúcar. Remie emigró a la República Dominicana con su mujer, Betilia Altimie, en la década de 1970.
“Tuve nueve hijos aquí, y he trabajado toda mi vida para ellos”, asegura en un español aprendido en las plantaciones. Su familia se instaló en uno de los cientos de bateyes de la República Dominicana, pequeñas aldeas para los trabajadores de la caña, con nombres optimistas como Esperanza. Remie y su familia viven en uno que se llama Bienvenido.
http://noticias.lainformacion.com/mundo/la-republica-dominicana-anula-los-derechos-a-miles-de-inmigrantes-y-a-sus-hijos_XBYmpljvzDsSFhWSgE7rr3/

Rep For Lauryn Hill Denies Fugee Reunion Reports In Haiti Today

Saturday, May 14, 2011 12:01 PM By Nolan Strong
Reps for Lauryn Hill have denied recent reports that the world renown rapper/singer is reuniting with The Fugees for the Haitian Presidential inauguration today (May 14th) in Haiti.
President Michel "Sweet Mickey" Martelly, 50, was sworn in on the lawn of the collapsed, National Palace in Port-Au-Prince.
Reports suggested Hill would be performing at the ceremony with former group members Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel.
"It was recently erroneously reported in the press that Ms. Lauryn Hill was set to re-unite with The Fugees for an event at the Haitian presidential inauguration on Saturday, May 14th," a rep for Hill told AllHipHop.com in statement. "This performance announcement was unfortunately false, as Ms. Hill is currently on tour in the U.S. and will be performing in Santa Barbara, California that evening. Any reports to the contrary in the press are incorrect.
Lauryn Hill sent her best wishes to her fans in Haiti, and said she would be performing there in the near future.
In April, Martelly trounced his competition in a second round of voting, after accusations of fraud and voter intimidation in the original November election.
The corruption forced a run off in March, in which Martelly received 68% of the votes.
As President of Haiti, Martelly has vowed to build a new army, reduce the poverty and most importantly - start the reconstruction of the tiny country - which was devastated by a massive earthquake in January of 2010 that killed over 200,000 people.
http://www.allhiphop.com/stories/news/archive/2011/05/14/22764332.aspx

Haitian girl has 'rare and complicated' heart surgery in Israel

By Karin Kloosterman May 15, 2011
Doctors at a Tel Aviv hospital arranged to have the child airlifted from Haiti for one of the rarest and most sophisticated heart operations in the world.
Amy Mariolata had just two years to live when doctors from Sheba Medical Center stepped in to give her revolutionary heart surgery.
Even after journalists stopped covering news from the storm-ravaged island of Haiti, Israeli doctors from Israel's Chaim Sheba Medical Center made a pledge to keep the Israeli humanitarian aid flowing.
Now, a 12-year-old Haitian girl recently went back home after one of the "most complicated, super-sophisticated, rare, lengthy, lifesaving heart operations in the world," performed by surgeons at Sheba's Children's Hospital.
Both the $30,000 operation and transportation costs to and from Israel for the patient and her mother were covered by Sheba, which is situated at Tel Hashomer just outside Tel Aviv and is Israel's largest medical center.
All-expense-paid journey to Israel
The story started with exotic diseases expert Dr. Eli Schwartz, who is volunteering at the clinic set up by Sheba personnel in Port-au-Prince. According to Dr. David Mishali, head of the Israeli hospital's department of pediatric and congenital cardiothoracic surgery, Schwartz treats about 400 patients there every week.
Knowing Mishali from his intern days, Schwartz sent an email regarding Amy Mariolata, a young girl with rheumatic heart disease, a condition affecting the heart valves that left her with only a two-year life expectancy.
Under normal circumstances, the two diseased valves would be replaced by mechanical ones. But with little or no access to critical continuing care and pharmaceuticals in Haiti to maintain the artificial valves, this wasn't an option, Mishali tells ISRAEL21c.
So with the support of Sheba CEO Dr. Zeev Rotstein, who "pulled a few strings to get the financial support," as Mishali recalls, "eventually we managed to bring her here and we performed a very complex operation and it looks like it was very successful."
Instead of using mechanical valves, Mishali's team performed "quite a complicated surgery. One valve was replaced with the other, and one valve was repaired, and we ended up with nice results that can give her 20 or 30 years of a normal, quality life."
Rivaling the best medical centers in the world
Pediatric rheumatic heart disease is believed to be caused by rheumatic fever, brought on by an immune system malfunction. It was the leading cause of death 100 years ago in the age group of five- to 20 year-olds in the United States. Worldwide, it remains a problem leading to some 90,000 deaths each year.
That's one reason that for Mishali, life as a heart surgeon for children can be summed up as a "big excitement." He says the Congenital Heart Center at Sheba's Edmond and Lily Safra Children's Hospital, established in 1952, rivals the best treatment facilities in the world and beats them in one regard: Every step of the way, from admission, to the operating room, to meetings with specialists, to checkout, are in the same location -- making the experience less traumatic for the young patients and their families.
Recently, doctors at the Congenital Heart Center saved the life of a one-week-old infant with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (SGLS), using an unusual procedure available in few other countries. It relies on hybrid technology and two methods for correcting the deformity, resulting in less postoperative pain and faster recovery.
Is Mishali ever afraid of the responsibility of holding the beating heart of a child in his hands, a young life counting on his success or failure? Yes. "When I stop being afraid, I will quit," says Mishali.
http://www.israel21c.org/201105159067/social-action/haitian-girl-has-rare-and-complicated-heart-surgery-in-israel

Fighting Cholera and Dirty Water in Earthquake-Ravaged Haiti

By MICHAEL MURRAY

May 14, 2011
On Saturday, former carnival singer Michel Martelly takes over the presidency of Haiti as that country continues to struggle with water-borne diseases like cholera following the catastrophic earthquake that hit the country in 2010.
Five thousand people have died in Haiti from cholera since the outbreak began in October 2010, according to United Nations officials.
Water for Life
World Water Relief, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, is a small group of dedicated humanitarians trying to fix the problem of dirty water in Haiti by installing clean water systems, but even more effectively by teaching kids how to wash their hands. So far, World Water Relief's cholera prevention program has taught basic hygiene classes in 100 schools and has reached 30,000 students in Haiti.
"To rebuild this country, we need water," Albert Juin, a Haitian youth coordinator for World Water Relief, told David Bruckner, who made a documentary about World Water Relief's work in Haiti in October 2010.
"We need purified water," Juin said. "We need to educate kids about this water is bad, this water is good."
"It doesn't look like it did after the earthquake, but the tent cities are all still there," Mo Baptiste, a World Water Relief board member and associate professor at Ithaca College, told ABC News. "Has there been debris removed? Yes. Is there a whole lot more to be removed? Yes."
"When I started going to down to the [region] doing medical mission work, I quickly realized that you can treat all these problems with medicine, but the real problem is that people don't have access to clean water," Dr. Kevin Fussell, vice chairman of the board for World Water Relief and a practicing pulmonary critical care physician, told ABC News.
Fussell left for Haiti three days after the earthquake that struck on Jan. 12, 2010.
Globally, more than 3.5 million people die each year from waterborne illnesses like cholera, according to World Water Relief. More than 80 percent of those who die from those diseases are children.
A deadly outbreak of cholera struck Haiti in October 2010, stemming from the unsanitary conditions that continue to plague Haitians.
"We were in Haiti [in fall 2010] when the cholera epidemic broke out, so it was really important to teach kids really basic hygiene," Tim Douglas, an education coordinator for World Water Relief, told ABC News. That involved teaching "when to wash your hands, how to wash your food, use a latrine, clean the latrine -- really basic stuff. But you realize it's difficult to do there, because you want to wash your hands but there's no clean water."
World Water Relief buys water filtration systems from a company called PURAUV, which sells ultraviolet water filtration systems. It installs large, 300-gallon tanks so that even if electricity cuts out, the purified water will flow out through the force of gravity.
"That was the easy part. It took a month and a half to get three schools done, which is pretty quick," Douglas told ABC News. "From there, we had to go about doing our education. ... We had to find a way to reach the students."
They attracted students through any means they could. They taught English, since many people are interested in learning the global language for business, and Douglas even brought out his ukulele to add some fun to the classes.
"We installed a water filtration system at an orphanage and built a reserve system outside where the community could get water, and we thought the water was going to be free community water," said Douglas. "We went back there after a few months and this guy called 'El Pastore' was selling the water."
"The key to any of these kinds of projects is to have the social infrastructure in place," said Fussell. "The difference with what we do is we work in areas where we're going to be day-in, day-out for tomorrow, next week, next month, next year. We work with organizations and schools on the ground, people we can touch base with to see if the systems are still working. We stay very involved with any system we install. We aim to find people who will be involved in maintenance and upkeep. We don't just drop [water filtration] systems in anywhere."
If you would like to help World Water Relief's work in Haiti, visit their website to find out how you can get involved.
http://abcnews.go.com/International/world-water-relief-fighting-cholera-epidemic-haiti/story?id=13592939&page=2

Haiti’s Ayikodans company performs the rhythms of life and joy

From disaster, Haiti’s Ayikodans company and its charismatic leader shape performances and dreams
When: 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. May 22
Where: Carnival Studio Theater, Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami
Cost: $150 Saturday, $35 May 22.
Info: 305-949-6722 or www.arshtcenter.org

By Jordan Levin
jlevin@MiamiHerald.com
So many people in Haiti still need so much: shelter, food, work, security. But Haitian dancer and choreographer Jeanguy Saintus believes there is something else they need, something less tangible but just as essential — the sense of joy, possibility and self-worth to be found in art. For 23 years this belief has driven him to struggle and sacrifice as he built Ayikodans, one of Haiti’s few professional modern-dance companies, and Artcho Danse, its school.
Even after the January 2010, cataclysm that killed more than 300,000 of his countrymen and wrecked large parts of Port-au-Prince, including his studio and school, Saintus still has faith in the power and necessity of art.
“The excuse in Haiti has always been that culture is not a priority, and especially dance is not a priority,” Saintus says, sitting in a conference room at Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, where his company will perform this weekend in fundraising events critical for its survival. “Which is not true. Because if you give food to someone once a day, what else can you offer after the food? People need to dance. People need to sing.”
Tall and perilously thin, Saintus moves with a taut, wary grace, large eyes glowing in a close-shaven, elegant head. He seems simultaneously vulnerable and driven. Dance has kept him going against tremendous odds, and Saintus believes that art can give his country something to aspire to beyond the construction of housing and the creation of factory jobs.
“Since I entered dance I wanted to do something different,” Saintus says. “And I thought that the best thing to do is to have a company. That was crazy, because how can you do a company without money, without a place? But in the end, even though we are still struggling, it was a good idea. Because it gives people the right to dream about what they want to do. You have a right to dream, a right to create.”
Now Saintus, 47, is getting help for his dream from a coalition of Miami supporters drawn by his perseverance and dedication. They are led by the Arsht Center, which is presenting Ayikodans. Organizers expect to raise $50,000 from ticket sales and donations to keep the troupe going as the center pulls together funding to commission a work from Saintus for a full-scale presentation early next year.
“All of us are in awe of this company’s motivation to survive,” says John Richard, the center’s president who was inspired to help after visiting Ayikodans last summer.
“We saw this as an opportunity to raise the company up in different ways. We have the ability to find the necessary resources to showcase the extraordinary choreography of Ayikodans, and, hopefully, Jeanguy’s story and efforts would be exposed to the world as a result. And the world would see the resilience of the Haitian people and the spirit that dance can bring to the community under such terrible conditions.”
Offers of help
Richard and others working to present Ayikodans say they have been surprised by the willingness and speed with which people have offered to help. Among the contributors are Coastal Construction Group, which has done business in Haiti, and Nopin, a Haitian long-distance calling service, each of which has given $10,000. The aid has not just been financial. Richard introduced Ayikodans to Al Crawford, the longtime lighting designer for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, who has volunteered to light the show in Miami. Cristina Barrios, consul general at the Spanish Consulate in Miami, who has headed her country’s reconstruction efforts in Haiti and was impressed by Saintus’ work there, is seeking to arrange a tour in Spain.
“People say, ‘We care about Haiti. We care about society as well, but we never see where the money goes,’ ” says Youri Mevs, a managing partner of WinGroup, which owns a terminal and industrial parks in Haiti and has been one of Ayikodans’ few supporters there. “So we will help the Arsht Center develop these community ties.”
Mevs, who has known Saintus for 15 years and helps lead the Miami effort to save his company, says she has long been moved by the choreographer’s determination and talent.
“Any time I testify to his courage and talent I believe I testify to the existence of God,” she says. “In this guy there is something bigger than all of us. I am very proud to be his friend.”
One of five children of a single mother, Saintus grew up next to a Lakou, or voudou temple, to the sound of drumming and the sight of women dancing in traditional ceremonies.
“I consider that I was born to be a dancer, a choreographer, because dance was always part of my life,” he says. His mother, who worked in factories and sold food and clothes on the street, died of cancer at 47, when Saintus was 14. He describes her as happy, loving and encouraging. “My mother used to tell us, ‘You are who you want to be. Being poor, it’s just a state of mind, ’” he says.
She remains an inspiration, most directly in one of his largest works, Le Bal de Gede (The Ball of the Dead) from 1995.
“When my mother died I was always going to the cemetery to talk to her. Every time I had a problem I go and talk to my mother, and I saw it as something beautiful,” Saintus says. “One day I was reading the Bible, and I find in Ecclesiastes where it says that the dead, who had already died, are happier than the living. And I use it as the synopsis of my ballet. Because in my mind my mother was still alive, and she wasn’t suffering, and the Gedes were beautiful and happy and dancing and not as miserable as we are.”
Adopted by his uncle, Saintus began studying in his late teens at a ballet studio filled almost exclusively with light-skinned, upper-class girls whose ambitions mostly didn’t extend beyond a yearly recital. He struggled with dual prejudices, as a man studying ballet in a macho culture, dark-skinned and poor in a class- and color-conscious society.
“When you are a boy in Haiti your parents will never take you to a dance class, especially ballet,” he says.
“He didn’t belong,” Mevs says. “Male dancers of a certain social class didn’t exist. It was all girls. It made it even worse for him to follow his dreams.”
Dance Barefoot
For Ayikodans’ first decade, the students and company were made up primarily of the same sort of well-to-do girls whom Saintus had encountered as a student. Then he started a scholarship program called Dansepyenu (Dance Barefoot), and soon most of the money from his paying students was going to support those who couldn’t pay. Often, Saintus give his scholarship students food, clothing or a place to stay. The company toured internationally, and in 2008 Saintus received the Prince Claus Award from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs for his progressive approach to culture. Instead of teaching ballet and presenting amateurish renditions of the classics, Saintus has created a blend of contemporary and Haitian traditional dance and music, a style he believes truly represents Haitian culture.
Among his Dance Barefoot protégés is Ayikodans’ biggest success story, Vitolio Jeune, who made his way to Saintus as a homeless, orphaned teenager dancing hip-hop on the streets of Port-au-Prince for change. Jeune studied and lived with his teacher and was soon taken into the company; then accepted into Miami’s New World School of the Arts. After graduation he did a short stint on the TV show So You Think You Can Dance in 2009 before joining acclaimed modern-dance troupe Garth Fagan Dance, where he’s been singled out by critics as one of the company’s best dancers in years.
Jeune, 28, says Saintus gave him not just a career and a home but also discipline and self-respect.
“He taught me to value myself not only as a dancer but as a human being,” Jeune says from Rochester, where the Fagan company is based. “I had to work really hard for everything. He would say to me all the time, ‘It’s the results that count.’ And he taught me that just because someone has a family which is very wealthy, that does not make them better than me. You just have to work hard. And your art will make you who you are supposed to be.”
Jeune says the only time he ever saw his mentor discouraged was after the earthquake, which severely damaged the studio and theater.
“We spoke, and he was really losing it,” Jeune says. “Then after a couple of days he was like, ‘OK, I’m not giving up. I’ve been fighting so long, I’m not giving up now.’”
Jeune is not giving up on his mentor, either. He will come to Miami to perform with Ayikodans.
“I want to be part of this,” he says. “I just want to help. Jeanguy put me on the right path. I owe that to him.”

Hope is goal
Even as he struggles to keep his dancers in rehearsal and his landlord from evicting him, Saintus hopes the Miami shows will not only give Ayikodans the means to survive but also bring hope to his country and validation for his mission to persuade Haitians of the value of art. He hopes Miamians will be inspired to help Ayikodans, and Haiti, not because of his troupe’s desperation and need but for its possibility and determination.
“What people see in the media and on TV about Haiti is very difficult,” Saintus says. “Even if you tell them, ‘I have great dancers,’ they will think, ‘Oh, that’s nice, but how can a dancer be great in a poor country?’ So when they see it, that becomes something different.
“Hopefully people will come and be generous and love the dance and see something different about Haiti — that we have beauty and power to share and not just poverty.”
Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/05/15/v-fullstory/2210590/haitis-ayikodans-company-performs.html#ixzz1MQnLIYrr
http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/05/15/v-fullstory/2210590/haitis-ayikodans-company-performs.html

Singer Michel Martelly is sworn in as Haiti's president

Martelly speaks in front of the crumpled National Palace, a symbol of a broken country ravaged by an earthquake last year and perpetually suffering from high rates of illiteracy and unemployment. By Allyn Gaestel, Los Angeles Times

May 15, 2011

Haiti's new president, Michel Martelly, stands with his wife, Sophia,
and their children as the Haitian national  anthem is played in Port-au-Prince.
 (Brennan Linsley, Associated Press / May 14, 2011)
Reporting from Port-au-Prince, Haiti— Former singer Michel Martelly was sworn in Saturday as Haiti's new president, promising change in a country whose towering needs will soon test his ability to shift from political outsider to national leader.
Martelly, elected in March by a commanding margin, spoke in front of a powerful symbol of the work ahead: the National Palace, crumpled like many other buildings in last year's devastating earthquake.
In his first remarks as president, Martelly summoned some of the same passion that fueled his campaign, his first foray into electoral politics.
"Haiti has been sleeping," Martelly said. "Today she will wake up, stand up."
Martelly, 50, reaffirmed a campaign vow to provide free education to the widely illiterate population. And while noting the need for security, his voice rose almost to a shout as he swore to bring to justice anyone who brought disorder to the country.
Martelly emphasized the need for a secure environment to lure investors and create jobs, a central issue in a country where unemployment is endemic.
The ceremony and setting were an attempt to set a new tone for a nation struggling to recover from the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake and, months later, a cholera epidemic.
A massive stage was constructed in front of the snow-white palace. Photographs of Haitian landmarks dotted a backdrop that had in its center a pre-quake image of the once-gleaming presidential residence.
But jutting above the backdrop was the real building, collapsed, with its white domes dipping precariously forward. Nearby, a plaza remained crammed with tents sheltering thousands of people left homeless after the quake.
Groups had taken to the streets with brooms all week, sweeping up garbage. Nonetheless, onlookers had to sidestep big potholes and piles of rubble.
Outgoing President Rene Preval handed over the presidential sash in the morning. The swearing-in took place in the makeshift parliament building, but a power outage forced Martelly to take the oath of office in darkness.
Numerous national and foreign officials turned up for the occasion, including former President Clinton and French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe.
Seeking a measure of conciliation in a country with a long history of polarization and turmoil, Martelly invited two former presidents who returned to Haiti this year: former dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier and Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Neither attended.
Haitians climbed flagpoles outside the parliament building and pressed against the palace gates to get a glimpse of their new president.
"He comes from God. All Haitians are walking with him," said Charles Lufret, 39 and unemployed, who watched the ceremony from the tent-crammed plaza outside the palace.
"The name of president follows him, from music to the palace," Lufret explained. He was referring to Martelly's former career as a popular kompa singer.
Bernice Robertson, a Haiti-based analyst for International Crisis Group, said Martelly assumed office "on a wave of optimism," but she warned of the many challenges ahead.
"He will need to speed up the decision-making process, build national consensus and support, and work with donors and other partners to ensure the resources needed to implement the decisions taken are available."
He won two-thirds of the vote in the March 20 runoff election, but turnout was low. Some Haitians have reservations about Martelly's capacity to lead.
"It is total blindness.… We know him as a music star, we don't know him in terms of governance or taking charge," said one businessman who requested anonymity.
Gaestel is a special correspondent.
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-haiti-president-20110515,0,4465786.story