PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Hip hop star and presidential candidate Wyclef Jean has gotten into the first fight of his young campaign. His opponent: former Hollywood bad boy-turned-camp manager Sean Penn.
After announcing his candidacy on CNN’s “Larry King Live” late Thursday, Jean retreated to an air conditioned room at the Le Plaza Hotel in Port-au-Prince to give media interviews and consult with aides.
Then it was Penn’s turn in front the CNN cameras. He questioned Jean’s commitment to helping Haitians.
“What the Haitian people need now is a leader who is genuinely willing to sacrifice,” Penn told CNN. “I haven’t seen or heard anything of him in these last six months that I’ve been in Haiti.”
Asked about Penn’s comments, Jean hit back hard, saying he looks forward to discussing his qualifications with Penn in person.
“I feel that it is irresponsible for him to attack my character like that, without proof of talking to me. Because everything he is saying is pure speculation. Because he is in one little area. . . . He can’t let that be judged for nine million people inside of a country,” Jean told The Miami Herald. “That’s very unprofessional. I look forward to having a fas a fas with him.”
No word on whether a meeting has been scheduled.
Jean is among more than a half-dozen candidates who have registered their intention to run for president in the Nov. 28 elections. The country’s electoral commission must still determine whether he meets the qualifications, which include living in Haiti for a consecutive five-year period. Jean says his appointment as a roving ambassador while living in the United States fulfills his residency requirement.
Penn, an Oscar winner, has been living in Haiti off and on since the Jan. 12 earthquake, which claimed a government-estimated 300,000 lives and displaced 1.5 million people. He runs a relief organization on the grounds of the Petionville Club, the country’s only golf course, which has been turned into a tent city.
Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/08/06/1764730/wyclef-jean-takes-on-his-first.html#ixzz0vrXLn4nv
I always viewed Sean Penn as an arrogant, aggressive, self-centered pain in the ass.
His period in Haiti has changed all of that.
Penn has done a lot of good for the Haitians and Haiti….by bringing its situation to the world community. He has put it on the line, living with his small Haitian tent city and experiencing their day-to-day life with them.
He has paid the entrance fee and has every right to critique Wyclef who floats in and out of Haiti without really smelling the flowers. He claims to be doing a lot but there is little visual evidence of this claimed effort, other than a few people on the streets with brooms and Yele Haiti T-shirts.
Whenever he sends VIPs to Haiti he has them visit the Afe Neg Combite in Kenscoff, run by Pere Cico a dynamic, charismatic peasant leader.
Now Wyclef is ensconced at the Kinam Hotel with a band of followers that lowers the ambiance of the place. Wyclef is OK, but the rest look like a team of hardened criminals from New York. His entourage has a number of major cocaine operatives among its ranks.
His indifference to the tax requirements in the States, along with his irresponsible handling of charitable funds makes one wonder how could possibly manage a nation. Some suggest he will support his uncle – former Haitian ambassador to Washington – Ray Joseph. Well now…it seems as though his uncle was once arrested by the IRS for a major tax situation involving the Haiti Observateur. I just spent time with the agent who arrested him, a Haitian in US Government service.
Wyclef must become more aware of the need to play a straight, clean game….otherwise he will be eaten up long before the election date. He could be a small meteor, flashing across the scene during the early moments, long forgotten by the people when they actually cast their ballots.