August 10th, 2010

Does Wyclef Have What it Takes?

The internet has been buzzing over talks of Haitian American musician, Wyclef Jean, announcing his bid to run for president of Haiti in the country’s Nov. 28th election.

Many analysts are predicting that Wyclef will walk away with the electoral victory this coming November due to his celebrity and overwhelming influence amongst the youth population of Haiti.

Haiti is known for being the first black colony to win it’s independence and most recently for the devastating earthquake which ravaged the impoverished nation back in January of this year. However, it’s also notorious for the governmental corruption it has faced since its independence from France in 1804.

Over the next few months, Wyclef Jean will be asked many questions. Below are a couple important ones we’d be interested in hearing responses to.

Is he constitutionally eligible for Candidacy?

Let’s face it, we live in a country that questioned Obama’s residency and he was born in Hawaii. Article 135 of Haiti’s Constitution states that the president must be at least 35 years old; a native-born Haitian and have never renounced Haitian nationality; the owner in Haiti of at least one real property and have his habitual residence in the country; have been relieved of his responsibilities if handling public funding; resided in the country for five consecutive years before the election and have never been sentenced to death, personal restraint, or penal servitude or lost of civil rights for a crime.

Wyclef appears to meet five of these six requirements, but has he resided in Haiti for five consecutive years prior to this upcoming election?

How will he stand against his competition?

He has a worthy competitor running against him, who also happens to be his Uncle. Wyclef,  who has never held political office, will be challenging Raymond Joseph the former Haiti ambassador to the United States. Another competitor is Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly, a Haitian performing artist and musical socio-politcal activist. Martelly has been criticized for years for his relationships with government officials and U.S. diplomats. However, many believe he has a closer tie to the Haitian people. With his “Knowledge is Power” song, he produced an HIV educational music video that had a powerful message about preventing the spread of HIV. Martelly took a stand against the virus that has infected about 2.2% percent of the Haitian adult population.

Wyclef for President: Do Haitians like the sound of that?

With a harsh history of politicians taking advantage of the young nation, it’s difficult for Haitians to have any faith in the election. While the singer is very popular in Haiti, many have reacted with skepticism and indifference. “He’s more like an American. Yes he was born there, but he hasn’t suffered with these people and lived that lifestyle in a long time. There’s a disconnect,” says 21 year old Shekinah Esther. Another commented saying, “He’s a very, very strong candidate, especially when nobody else has the resources.” At a recent CNN interview, Wyclef asserted that his American influence will help the poverty-stricken nation. Nonetheless, to many, he’s a musician and not a politician. To others, he just might be Haiti’s savior.

Can Wyclef turn the nation around?

Former Haitian President Duvalier’s dictatorship marks one of the saddest chapters in Haitian history, with tens of thousands murdered and/or exiled.  Since it’s independence from France in 1804, Haiti has suffered under the influence of many super power’s and has never recovered. Wyclef will take on the daunting task of reconstructing the capital city which is still covered in rubble and tents. Realistically, to get Haiti back to where it was just a day before the devastating January 12th earthquake would take  years. Although 10 billion dollars in reconstruction efforts has been “promised” to Haiti over the next few years, the execution won’t be easy.

Elections for the presidency will be held in just 3 1/2 months. Between now and then, Wyclef will not only need the full support of the Haitian people, but he will need to get the backing of the world. We wish him luck. In the meantime, check out Wyclef’s “If I Was President.”


About the Author

Chanel Auguste
Chanel Auguste attended the “FAME” school Laguardia High School of Performing Arts and went on to receive a degree in PR at Clark Atlanta University.Chanel is currently the Executive Assistant to the President of Thrifts for Housing Works.



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