Haitian President Michel Martelly jetted into South Florida last weekend ready to party. Inside a crowded ballroom on Saturday night, the pop-star-turned-president grabbed the microphone, swayed from side-to-side and riled up the crowd with an impromptu performance at the Renaissance Ballroom off Calle Ocho.
It was the eighth anniversary celebration for a popular Haitian website.
Accompanying him to the party were North Miami police officers, who provided private security detail for his Friday-to-Sunday visit, after the Secret Service had turned him down because of short notice. The cost of the visit to North Miami taxpayers: $8,800, the city said.
The publicly funded security detail has irked some in North Miami, which like many other municipalities is struggling financially — and where, like other South Florida communities, international affairs can stir emotions.
While some laud the city’s decision, others say it impacts the city’s budget and gives the appearance of a gulf between Haitians and non-Haitians in the Northeast Miami-Dade city. Haitians represent roughly one-third of the population.
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