Dumarsais Mécène Siméus Photo VOA News
President of Haiti
Siméus was born in Pont-Sondé in Haiti's Artibonite Valley, the son of illiterate peasant rice farmers. He grew up working the land in Haiti to feed himself and his 11 siblings. In 1961, his family sold some land so he could fly to the United States to pursue a college education at Florida A&M University. Siméus transferred to Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he earned a degree in electrical engineering.
He worked his way up the corporate ladder. He was a financial analyst at Rockwell International and KB Home, a director of Latin American Operations for Bendix, general manager of Hartz Pet Food, France, and vice president of International Business Development at Atari.
He quickly rose in the corporate world, becoming president of Beatrice Food, Latin America;and eventually president and chief operating officer of TLC Beatrice International Food.
In 1984, Siméus started working for TLC Beatrice International Holdings Inc., the $2.1 billion, black-owned food processing and distribution company. He served as President and CEO for two years before leaving in 1992 to buy and run his own business.
In 1996, with $55 million financing, Siméus bought Portion-Trol Foods from Flagstar Corp in Mansfield, Texas, and renamed it Simeus Foods International Inc. Siméus Foods, based south of Fort Worth, manufactures value-added food products for national multi-chain restaurants and large institutions such as El Pollo Loco, Denny's, T.G.I. Friday's and Burger King in the United States and Canada. Simeus Foods Intl. now generates $155 million a year.
In 1999, Siméus Siméus established Org. Sové Lavi www.sovelavi.org, a non-profit foundation to provide medical care, education and clothing to Haitians.
Between October 2004 and February 2005, he served on Florida Governor Jeb Bush's advisory board for Haiti. The group made a series of recommendations for Haïti's security, economic development and disaster preparedness.
A group of about 40 U.S.-based Haitian business and civic leaders have urged him to run for president.
Run for Haitian Presidency
After months of speculation, Simeus decided to contest the Haitian Presidency in August 2005. Simeus' political platform includes making it easier for companies to invest in Haiti, promoting jobs, and rooting out corruption by making government accountable. Simeus said, "I want to create a Haiti where people are proud to stay because there are opportunities." ..."I want a Haiti where there is access to capital for the average guy, for the poor guy who was born in a hut like I was born in." During his campaign he ran into a few challenges.
His status as a dual national became a challenge. Simeus said that he still has Haitian citizenship despite taking the US Oath of Allegiance, which renounced all other citizenships. The Haitian Electoral Board disagreed. Eventually this matter was taken to the Supreme Court of Haiti which recently ruled that Simeus could place his name on the ballot, but he still faces election council challenges to his candidacy and a threat of prosecution alleging false candidacy claims on election papers. Article 135 states a presidential candidate must "be a native-born Haitian and never have renounced Haitian nationality" and have resided in the country for five consecutive years before the election.
Another challenge is his public acceptance. Simeus was essentially unknown in Haiti prior to 2004 and many viewed him as an outsider. At a campaign rally, he was cordially received in Solino, a crumbling and crime-plagued neighborhood of the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince. But when his tour reached the Bel Air neighbourhood, a stronghold for supporters of ex-president Aristide, dozens of angry men and women rushed onto the streets, hurling rocks and chunks of concrete at Siméus's car, forcing him to flee.
On September 27, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, on a 6-hour visit to Haiti, publicly and pointedly called on Haiti's interim government to hold "inclusive" elections. Rice reportedly pressed Prime Minister Gérard Latortue for Siméus to be readmitted to the race. On October 11, the Supreme Court ruled in Siméus’ favor, ordering the CEP to put the Texan back on the ballot. A day after the ruling half of the members of the Supreme Court were forced into retirement by the orders of Gerard Latortue, and his justice minister. Simeus has seemingly thrown his support towards the front runner of the election, former President René Préval.
- Simeus Welcomes Dr. Rice, Calls for International Inquiry Into 'Abuse of Power' By Political Insiders to Control Ballot September 27, 2005
- Dumarsais Simeus Addresses Haïti - Haitian-Born Reformer Offers Proof of Citizenship and Haitian Nationality PRNewswire September 30, 2005
- Simeus Wins Ballot Fight in 'A Victory for Change in Haïti' PRNewswire September 30, 2005
- Simeus Applauds Kofi Annan and UN, Addresses Nation to Decry Prime Minister as a Threat to Free, Fair Elections in Haïti October 18, 2005
- Haïti's first investment bank to focus on projects for poor James Cox, USA TODAY, April 29, 2004
- Businessman returns to Haïti to run for president Danna Harman (The Christian Science Monitor), USA Today, August 17, 2005
- Wealthy Haïti Expatriate Plans to Run for President VOA News, August 19, 2005
- U.S. Businessman Joins Crowded Haïti Field, Alfred De Montesquiou, Guardian Unlimited, September 16, 2005
- Businessman Appeals Decision Barring Run for Haïti's Presidency VOA News, September 25, 2005
- Texas businessman returns to Haïti for presidential run David Adams, St Petersburg Times, October 20, 2005
- Texas Businessman Seeks Haitian Presidency Steve Quinn The Associated Press October 23, 2005
- Ayiti "LE COIN DE CARL" Edition Speciale September 8, 2005
- "Would-be candidate fights for chance to change Haiti", Boston Globe, October 19, 2005
- University of Chicago Business School
- "Profits (and perils) abroad" ANTIC Vol. 2, No. 12, March 1984, p14
- "Businessman returns to Haiti to run for president", USA Today, 17 August 2005
- "A Bitterly Divided Haiti Is Lurching Toward an Election", New York Times, 30 Oct 2005
- "Texas businessman returns to Haiti for presidential run", St Petersburg Times, 20 Oct 2005