SPRING VALLEY, N.Y. -- Haitian President Michel Martelly riveted a packed crowd of onlookers at Spring Valley Village Hall recently when he spoke of hope and cooperation.
Afterward he inspired hundreds gathered at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in the village, which has a large Haitian population.
"We are all on a mission as servants to help our community, to create a stable environment where people can live, work, and function," said Martelly, known to many as "Sweet Mickey," the moniker he used when he was a musician.
This is the first time Martelly, 54, has visited Spring Valley since becoming Haiti's leader in May 2011. Flanked by Spring Valley Mayor Demeza Delhomme, and his wife, Sophia Saint-Remy, the president joked about coming back to Spring Valley to play music again one day.
Martelly was in New York attending the UN General Assembly. He also made stops in Brooklyn.
"We are honored that he is paying us a visit," said Carl Henry Joseph," spokesman for the Rockland Welcoming Committee. "As president of Haiti, he has done what he has set out to do. He is rebuilding his country after the earthquake. He's kept his promises."
Several public officials were present including State Senator David Carlucci, County Executive Ed Day, and Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee.
A pair of protesters were outside Village Hall voicing their opposition in French.
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