Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Haiti's Humanitarian Crisis Ignored as Media Focuses on Failed WyClef Bid

WyClef' Jean's candidacy dies with a wimper.

August 19, the night of the expected announcement from the Provisional Electoral Council (SEC), heavily armed United Nations blue helmets patrolled the streets in armored cars on the alert for a riot that never came. However, about 300 of WyClef's supporters did march through heavy rain to protest outside Haiti's electoral office in Port-au-Prince.

The Council rejected the singer-songwriter's candidacy because of the constitutional requirement that candidates who run must have lived in the country for five years prior to the November 28 election. WyClef moved to the United States when he was nine years old and his primary residence is New Jersey.

WyClef released a statement the next day that he would cooperate with the decision made by the SEC. "We must all honor the memories of those we've lost -- whether in the earthquake, or at anytime -- by responding peacefully and responsibly to this disappointment," he said.

That was then, now WyClef has announced that he is not abandoning his presidential bid. He will appeal the decision rejecting his candidacy. He plans to send a lawyer to a Haitian court to appeal the electoral commission's decision to keep him off the list of eligible presidential candidates. He says he has a document "which shows everything is correct" and that he and his aides "feel that what is going on here has everything to do with Haitian politics." Evidently, the appeal is being based on WyClef's honorary status as "Ambassador at large" for Haiti, a "post" he claims exempts him from residency requirements.

The whole elections process is a charade to begin with, given that it is being carried out under a brutal occupation, so it is not surprising that WyClef and his lawyers are pushing for inclusion in the elections in spite of being officially rejected. Unfortunately, the process is tainted, as WyClef suspects, but not because, "They are trying to keep us out of the race." It is primarily because Haiti is under occupation by the UN military (MINUSTAH).

Additionally, the legitimacy of the November 28 election is also questionable because Haiti’s largest political party Fanmi Lavalas has been barred from the election.

WyClef is being criticized not only because he is not qualified to run, nor because he does not meet the constitutional requirements, but because he does not have the political skills or savvy to deal with Haiti's multitude of problems. The elitist private business sector in Haiti will make mincemeat out of him. He is also not equipped to deal with the legions of multinational interests that occupy and run Haiti through the pulling of purse strings and the muscle of MINUSTAH’s occupying force.

WyClef has not even outlined a comprehensive political platform, except for the declaration that “Haiti is open for business” and other very general statements. It stands to reason that with the neophyte WyClef at the helm, Haiti will be open to further exploitation and the continued apartheid between the super-rich and the ultra-poor. The apartheid class system in Haiti needs to be addressed and acknowledged by Haiti’s next leader. There is also an urgent need to addressed the stranglehold that Non-governmental Agencies (NGOs) have on Haiti in order to determine how to regulate their activities.

Even if he were qualified to run, WyClef’s political constituency is tenuous at best. He has not built a base or electorate. People are asking: What's his platform? He’s a musician. While some are fans and enjoy his music, that does not necessarily translate into voting for him to be Haiti's next president.

Above all, the Haitian majority needs someone in the Presidency who will champion human development (education, health, food, security, housing and infrastructure), above sustaining foreign and private business interests which continue to plunder Haiti for cheap labor and rich natural resources, but do not support the local economy. A notable exception is the Irish-based cell phone company Digicel, which has promoted "the kind of grass-roots entrepreneurship long ignored by the business elite."

While all of the distraction over the candidacy of WyClef is going on, forced evictions continue in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps… and Haitians are tired of sleeping on garbage.

People are living in the streets and no homes are being built, but already they’ve announced plans to build a new textiles factory. Sweatshops should not take precedence over people’s health and well-being.

In this day and age of technology, Haitians are being taught how to sew. This move cements Haiti's role as the low-cost, low-wage, low-tech center of the world.

In the meantime USAID is giving money to countries in Southeast Asia and elsewhere in Europe to train high tech workers.

The media attention should focus less on the distraction of WyClef Jean’s failed presidential bid and the ensuing circus, and more on the desperate humanitarian situation on the ground in Haiti.


Carla Murphy said...

Of course Wyclef is the story. Why wouldn't he be if mainstream media's producing the story? The MSM caters to their audience, Americans, the vast majority of whom have problems/interests that have nothing to do with Haiti's humanitarian crisis. My question is: why expect more from the MSM when the economics of the situation don't support your inquiry? Focus your excellent energy elsewhere.

thezenhaitian said...

The post came about because I was approached for comment on the WyClef situation by a reporter for a political website.

I responded promptly with essentially what I've posted here, but my response was not reflected in their article. So, this is when having a blog is a blessing, because if gives you a forum where you can express yourself without censorship.

I think I managed to kill two birds with one stone here by addressing both issues -- WyClef's bid and the humanitarian crisis.

Thanks for the comment, Carla.

Anonymous said...

Good riddance!!!

Our people have been spared from this man made disaster.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the media might be back at reporting the humanitarian crisis in Haiti.

NY times in one of its editorial mentioned that that shelters will be completed in November and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent were buying new tarps to replace old tarps.


However, there is no mention that this is the height of the hurricane seanson and tarps won't be of any help when these hurricanes strike.

Then Kentucky lexington newspaper had a one paragraph about how most people spend their nights during the rainy nights: families standing up holding their babies because water is coming up underneath.
There again there is no mention that this is the height of the hurricane season and this coping mechanism will not work in an hurricane.

Both articles makes mention of transitional houses being built while the NY times provided a completion date of November, the Kentucky newspaper did not provide one

Anonymous said...

Those eager to propel and supported the non-viable candidacy of Wyclef Jean appeared to be interested in building concensus in the Haitian diaspora to amend the Haitian constitution to remove the residency requirements for the country's highest office.

However, they failed to realize that not everyone in the diaspora is interesting in running for political offices in Haiti and the true patriots among us will not support policies that are detrimental to the country.

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