PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Every year the Carnival in Cap Haitien, Haiti, provides an outlet to Haitians from all walks of life to participate in a fun filled event that allows them to put aside their daily worries. The Carnival is also an event where Haitians are given carte blanche to criticize their leaders and their government.
However, some recent media coverage of this year's Carnival has raised doubts about the government's commitment to the musical diversity and the political tolerance that are such an important part of the event.
The government of Haiti has refuted any suggestion that carnival songs or music have been censored. All carnival songs are played on radio stations without limitation, reaching 10 million Haitians all over the country with no interference from government.
The selection of bands for the carnival parade is complicated by a limited number of 'chars', the need for each band to raise considerable private sponsorship, consideration of the carnival theme, which this year is 'environment' and the need to give new artistes their chance and opportunity to participate. This unfortunately means unavoidable disappointment for some groups each year.
While there is a tradition of criticism and protest in Carnival music, it is also worth noting that in a recent independently run nationwide poll, over 70% of Haitians surveyed have confidence in the government notwithstanding the grave challenges the country faces.
Carnival is the best of Haiti, music, culture, community -- an event in which there are no spectators, and where everyone is a participant. The government of Haiti said it is working hard to ensure that Carnival in Cap Haitien is a secure and successful event.