By Geo Ong
Musical artist Wyclef Jean has added his name to the list of candidates for the 2010 Haitian presidential election. In the wake of his announcement, there has been a choir of criticism, including activist Sean Penn, himself an active participant in the Haitian relief effort. Penn, who has been living in Haiti since the earthquake and co-founded the J/P Haitian Relief Organization, is skeptical not necessarily of Wyclef Jean himself, but of ‘the influence of corporations here in the United States and private individuals that may well have capitalised on [Jean's] will…’
Jean briefly describes his platform in this video, along with a response to Penn and other critics, including his ex-Fugee bandmate, Pras Michel, who says that ‘Wyclef’s patriotism for Haiti is unwavering but still [isn't suited to be president].’ Pras is instead backing one of Jean’s opponents, Michel Martelly.
Is Wyclef Jean suited for the Haitian presidency? He has been called (although perhaps only he himself has said it) Haiti’s Barack Obama. He’s also been called Haiti’s Sarah Palin. There will be more facts and details as the election unfolds toward November.
In the midst of Haiti’s post-earthquake reconstruction era, the last thing this nation needs is to be exploited for political gain. As Penn says, Haiti needs a leader ‘who’s really, really willing to sacrifice for their country.’