Candidates for the upcoming 2015 Presidential elections in Haiti met a critical crowd at this past Sunday’s presidential debate, held at the North Miami Senor High School. Attempting to garner support from the Haitian Diaspora in South Florida, eight top candidates fielded questions ranging from the economy to national security.
Though the candidates were dedicated serious campaign time for the Haitian Diaspora living in South Florida – an audience that currently cannot vote in the upcoming elections – the Diaspora’s clear influence on voters back home, as well as their lucrative financial support, made this presidential debate off-island a crucial platform in the heated campaign. But getting solid solutions for issues posed by both moderators and the crowd proved difficult as the night progressed, with the audience vocally criticizing vague responses to key issues.
Some candidates, however, proposed specific strategies to tackle the economy. Both Sen. Samuel Madistin and lawyer Aviol Fleurant offered a “Made in Haiti” approach, with Madistin advocating to replace foreign imports with local production, and Fleurant arguing for more investment in the local rice and coffee industry. Meanwhile, Eric Jean-Baptiste advocated a socialist stance, proposing greater government regulations on small to medium farming.
This was the first presidential debate in South Florida, and the last one before the upcoming presidential elections, set for October 25.