August 17, 2010

If Wyclef Jean was President… ~ Matas Vilgalys

“…Wyclef Jean is the Haitian version of Sarah Palin.”

~ Wyclef’s cousin and former Fugees bandmate Pras Michel’s twitter stream. Pras has already publicly endorsed another candidate.

Wyclef Jean’s unofficial campaign video.

Former Fugee Wyclef Jean’s announcement that he’s running for chief executive of Haiti has, unsurprisingly, garnered a great deal of criticism regarding everything from his private jet—which he takes every time he returns to Haiti from his home in the US—to his charity’s alleged misuse of funds for $250,000 parade floats.

As reported by The NY Times’ investigation of Yéle Haiti, the charity started by Wyclef immediately after the Haitian earthquake featured a float with…

…Mr. Jean in a frilly blouse and gilded epaulettes as Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the Haitian revolutionary hero. Mr. Jean also imported a lion for the spectacle, keeping it in the parking lot of the Montana Hotel, now destroyed, where the kitchen crew fed the beast sirloin steaks.

Furthermore, some residency issues, proving that Jean has not been a permanent resident of Haiti for the last five years, might also bar him from an official campaign.  Jean retorted that Haitians “don’t need a local president, I think we need a global president, someone that can travel.”

Any way you look at it, his running will be scrutinized because of his celebrity status. But he hasn’t been trying to present himself as a commoner.  His candidacy is based around the earthquake charity he created, which may not have played as effective role as it could, yet still has managed to raise awareness, money and notoriety toward the condition in Haiti.

Granted, he is a celebrity, like Sarah Palin—but more than that he is a well-liked celebrity.  He’s a national Haitian hero and after a long history of dictatorships, militaristic takeovers, assassinations and good-old-fashioned coup d’état, a fairy-tale hopemonger like Wyclef might just be exactly what the country needs.

That is, as long as his hit single (video at top) proves to be fiction.

Matas Vilgalys is a senior at CU Boulder pursuing double degrees in Art and Advertising. He likes cheese, working on projects, loving the mountains, running, and talking about North Carolina, the greatest state in the union and coincidentally where he is from.

You can find him on the mall hawking hammocks. He’s promised never to leave elephant’s “employ.”

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