All Articles Tagged "wyclef haiti"
by Charing Ball
Recently, a statement from mysterious family members of Wyclef Jean, Haitian hip-hop artist and ambassador at-large to the country, was released to the press his considerations for running for president of Haiti. Let the “If I was President” jokes commence.
According to published reports, Jean, who was born Croix-des-Bouquets, has already filed all the necessary papers and has until August 7th to officially declare his candidacy. No word yet on if Jean, who immigrated to New York from Haiti when he was a child, would meet all the necessary requirements including: being a resident of Haiti for five consecutive years, owning property in the country and having never been a citizen of any country other than Haiti.
Regardless if he is or is not eligible, I’m a little perplexed as to why Jean is running for such a high office in the first place. Is this just an opportunity to enhance his public profile or does he really thinks that he is best candidate to aide Haiti in what is sure to be a long, arduous rebuilding effort. Or maybe, his intentions are a combination of both?
It was less than a year ago that Haiti was devastated by a 7.0 earthquake, which left tens of thousands dead and 1.6 million homeless and displaced. Six months later, people still clutter the streets in make-shift tents, while the billions of relief and aide promised to the Caribbean nation remains unaccounted for.
The government, which too is operating out of tents after losing 26 of 29 of its building and most of its employees, is struggling to come up with a rebuilding strategy of its own. Not to mention that prior to the earthquake Haiti suffered from various social problems, corruption, political upheaval and debt, which prohibited it from maintaining a political infrastructure.
Haiti, for all its historical relevance and years of abuse, is due for a savior; however I’m not quite certain if Jean is it.
To be honest, something about Wyclef’s quest for the public office just doesn’t pass the legitimacy test. I don’t doubt Jean’s sincerity as I think he has demonstrated – even prior to the earthquake – a true love for his homeland. And as someone who is highly favored by the Haitian people, Jean’s presidency would uplift the profile of the struggling island nation – and quite possibly produce one of the greatest Creole/Hip-Hop albums of all time.
But just because he can drape himself in the Haitian flag and rap in fluent Creole doesn’t necessarily mean that Jean has the expertise and know-how to grasp the complexities of running an entire government, especially in Haiti.
Case in point, during the upheaval in 2004, Jean voiced called for embattled Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to step down amidst allegations of corruptions. Jean, who voiced his support for Haitian rebels opposing Aristide’s government, was quoted as saying, “What I want people to be clear about is it’s not just people chopping up people for no reason.”
Of course, Aristide was ushered away by the U.S. military in an early morning coup shortly after and still remains in exile in South Africa today. And the Fanmi Lavalas Party, which was not only the party of Aristide but also a major party with Haitian urban poor, was banned by now President Preval from participating in any future elections. If Jean were to run for office and get elected, how would his support for rebels and vilification of Aristide, who still remains popular in Haiti even after the earthquake, work towards or against bridging unity and rebuilding efforts in the country?
And I would be remised if I didn’t mention the hot water Jean recently found himself in after the earthquake for his questionable and erratic spending practices through his Yele Haiti charity. While no former charges were filed and Jean has always maintained his innocence, a cloud of suspicion still lingers over how much of the $16 million raised by his charity thus far has actually gone to rebuilding or aide efforts.
And in an odd twist, Jean’s uncle Raymond Joseph, who is also the U.S. ambassador to Haiti, told the Christian Monitor that he also plans on throwing his hat in the presidential ring. Unless this is a ploy to split the vote in an effort to get another candidate into office, I highly doubt that Jean would run against his beloved uncle Raymond, whom he credits with helping him get into the music industry in the first place.