Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wyclef Running for Pres

Wyclef Jean to Run for President of Haiti

It's tempting to dismiss this as flaky performance art, a publicity stunt from the same guy who just a few years ago recorded a number called "President" that included the refrain "If I was President." But Jean's chances as well as his motives seem solid. And there are good reasons for Haitians - and the U.S.-led international donor community, which is bankrolling Haiti's long slog to the 21st century - to take this particular hip-hop politician seriously. Pop-culture celebrity hardly disqualifies you from high office today. (The last time I looked, an action hero was still running California.) And in Haiti, where half the population of about 9 million is under age 25, it's an asset as golden as a rapper's chains. Amid Haiti's gray postquake rubble, Jean is far more popular with that young cohort than their chronically corrupt and inept mainstream politicians are, and he'll likely galvanize youth participation in the election.

More important, Jean stands to prove that fame can do more than lift voter turnout - or raise millions of dollars for earthquake victims, as his Y√Čle Haiti (Haiti Freedom Cry) foundation has this year. His presidential run, win or lose, could build a long-awaited bridge between Haiti and its diaspora: a legion of expatriates and their progeny, many of them successful in pursuits spanning every field, who number 800,000 in the U.S. alone. International aid managers agree that Haiti really can't recover from the quake unless it taps into the education, capital, entrepreneurial drive and love for mother country that Jean epitomizes - even if his French (one of Haiti's official languages) is poor and his Creole (the other) is rusty. "A lot of Haitians are excited about this," says Marvel Dandin, a popular Port-au-Prince radio broadcaster. "Given the awful situation in Haiti right now," he says, "most people don't care if the President speaks fluent Creole."


More of the article here.

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