About the Author: Kenneth H. Merten serves as U.S. Ambassador to Haiti.
The murmur of the more than five hundred guests subsided as the President of the Haitian National Assembly, Jean-Rodolphe Joazile, called the Special Joint Session to order on May 14, 2011. The guests, who included Haitian Deputies dressed in white and Senators in black; dozens of foreign dignitaries from all over the world, including presidents, prime ministers, and other high-ranking officials; and the leading political and business figures of the country, waited as President-elect Michel Martelly prepared to approach the podium to take the oath of office. Just then, the power went out, cutting off the lights and turning off the air conditioning, which had been struggling to keep the temperatures in the temporary wooden structure bearable. Inaugurations typically take place in the parliament itself, but since the building was destroyed during the January 12, 2010, earthquake,… more »