Perspectives

Wyclef Jean and Haiti's uphill road

By FinalCall.com News | Last updated: Aug 10, 2010 - 9:45:40 AM

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(FinalCall.com) - Wyclef Jean, a son of Haiti who loves his homeland, has entered the world of politics by running for president of the first Black republic. Hoping to use his passion, his celebrity and his commitment to his people for good, the young musician and founder of the Yele Haiti foundation, which has done good work, has generated tremendous interest and reactions among those inside and outside of the country.

Questions have been raised about whether he is qualified to lead the nation and whether he can muster the strength and power necessary to move a country still reeling from a massive earthquake forward.

But beyond the questions about Wyclef is a bigger question: Who would surround the would-be president and who has a true commitment to rebuild the country?

The destruction of government ministries, the deaths of jurists, judges, and legislators, the loss of official documents and records, the historic volatility of Haitian politics, an entrenched rich and powerful political elite and the dependence on foreign help leaves Haiti in a very weak and vulnerable position.

Balancing all of these problems and longtime poverty would be a daunting task in the best of times; the current harrowing times make the task even more tremendous.

It is not a job for a single man, but a mission for a cadre of those who love Haiti and her people and have an abiding desire to serve the often-troubled republic, and a movement for the resurrection, rebuilding and reconstruction of a nation. The brilliance and the commitment for Haitians in the Diaspora, who already provide the leading source of income for the country through remittances, must also be courted and properly tapped.

The United States government and the international community have already failed miserably in delivering promised aid to Haiti. Meanwhile inside the “Republic of NGOS,” as Haiti is sometimes called, charities, aid groups and other non-governmental organizations seem to operate at will, with too little coordination and fulfill roles that rightly belong to government.

These influential interests are unlikely to give up power easily and without a fight. Meanwhile the masses of Haitians want change now and President Wyclef would likely raise expectations for quick change. But what if he wins and those who hold money that rightfully belongs to Haiti fail to open the purse strings? What if the bogeyman of corruption is used to deny Haiti funding or to allow just a trickle of funding to flow, as has been done in the past—how long can the hope and positive energy of the Haitian masses be sustained?

Certainly if Wyclef wins the presidency, he will face a dangerous uphill road. He will need helpers in his cause and those helpers will quickly determine how fast or slow change comes and the U.S. will undoubtedly be lurking in the background, exerting pressure and pulling strings as she has for the entire life of Haiti.

The U.S. media mill quickly churned, and within days of the Aug. 5 announcement of his candidacy, issued news reports of taxes Wyclef allegedly owed the U.S. government and actor Sean Penn was asking questions about Wyclef where he has been the past six months. It is always interesting that when a potential candidate—in particular a Black man or woman—comes in from outside the political establishment, the media smear campaign and attacks begin. It's outrageous that questions can be raised about Wyclef's personal affairs but few questions are asked about billions extorted from Haiti over centuries, well-paid dictators who lived long and well so long as they did U.S. bidding, and those who raised money on the back of Haitian suffering but have delivered nothing or very little to the Haitian people.

When Haitians go to the polls in November, they will choose a new president and that choice may be Wyclef Jean. But regardless of who wins, Black America and Haitians in the Diaspora must stay informed, engaged and involved in the country. Haiti needs all the friends, all the love and all the support she can get.

Related news:

Wyclef brings excitement to Haiti's politics (FCN, 08-10-2010)

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