Journalists wait for Haiti's provisional electoral council (CEP) to announce which candidates qualify to run in the November election.
Wyclef Jean (formerly of the Fugees for those of you who don't know your hip-hop) made quite the splash last month when he announced that he would be running for president in Haiti's November elections. On Friday, Haiti's provisional electoral council (the CEP) released its list of approved presidential candidates. Rumor has it that Wyclef will be appealing the CEP's decision to disqualify him, in spite of another rumor that the ruling cannot be appealed.
You're entitled to your own opinion (everyone's got 'em!), but here's how I see and hear it:
1. In this interview Wyclef actually says, Haitians "don't need a local president." I disagree, based not only on my own view of the multinationals-that-are-taking-over-the-world, of economics and of development, but because the Haitians that I work with and for whom I have the utmost respect, believe that the only way to ensure a sustainable future for Haiti is to build a local, bottom-up economy. This is a basic tenant of sustainable development the world-over. My colleagues believe that the solutions Wyclef champions for Haiti's development will only further establish the current social and economic system which so clearly does not work for most Haitians. I'm not saying that any of the other candidates will be different, but at least most of them would give lip service to local agricultural development.
2. Wyclef does not meet the constitutional requirements to be Haiti's next president, so his posing as a candidate does not reflect much respect for the Haitian constitution. Not such a great attribute in a president.
3. It's true that having Wyclef as a candidate has put an international spotlight on the elections, but it bothers me that the story has become about Wyclef. There's a whole historically oppressed and conflicted nation of people here that will be electing themselves a new president in November. No-one cares unless a famous hip-hop artist who happens to have been born in Haiti decides to run. And when he is no longer a candidate, there's no more story. Are we really that star-struck?
4. When news articles refer to the massive amounts of support that Wyclef has generated in Port-Au-Prince, I am skeptical. It's true that the mean age in Haiti is 20.5, that many young people do view him as the only "new" option on the political horizon and only option for changing the status quo. But it's also true that most of his supporters (and all of that oft-refered to graffiti now spoiling every wall in the city) has been paid for by Wyclef. I know this - we have a friend here who is a political mobilizer.
5. Wyclef's foundation, Yele Haiti, has done some great work in Haiti. Yele has also been accused of fraud and corruption time and again. Here the New York Times levels some pretty serious allegations against Wyclef's philanthropic work.
Now you have my two (or five) cents.