"If I was president, I'd get elected on Friday, assassinated on Saturday, buried on Sunday, Then go back to work on Monday." These are mirthful lyrics from Wyclef Jean’s song “If I was President.” Although seemingly farfetched, some troubling realities of Haitian presidential history are embedded within those lines. Ironical, should he really become president of Haiti next year.
The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that Wyclef Jean, Haitian-born entertainer -- Grammy Award winner—is entertaining the idea of entering the up-coming presidential race in his homeland.
“An opportunity that he’s exploring and exploring seriously,” declared his brother Sam Jean, who runs Wyclef’s charitable organization, Yele Haiti Foundation. Sam added, “Most of the population in Haiti is under the age of 26, I believe, so the youth have really clamored to him.”
This latest news sent shock waves through the Haitian community. The successful hip-hop singer is well known for his stardom as well as his philanthropist and humanitarian work geared towards the poorest of Haiti; however, his political ambitions --to this point-- remained inconspicuous. As for his eligibility to run for presidential office, Article 135 of the Haitian constitution spells it out as follow:
a. Be a native-born Haitian and never have renounced Haitian nationality.
b. Have attained 35 years of age by the Election Day.
c. Enjoy civil and political rights and never have been sentenced to death, personal restraint or penal servitude or the loss of civil rights for a crime of ordinary law.
d. Be the owner in Haiti of at least one real property and have his habitual residence in the country.
e. Have resided in the country for five consecutive years before the date of the elections.
f. Have been relieved of his responsibilities if he has been handling public funds.
Although the 37-year-old has yet to officially declared his candidacy, some reports have indicated that he has already filed the necessary papers to become an official candidate. Meanwhile, his camp maintained that, “at this time, Wyclef Jean has not announced his intent to run for Haitian president. If and when a decision is made, media will be alerted immediately,” leaving the idea floating in the realm of possibilities.
Perhaps most interestingly or even ironical, Raymond Joseph -- Jean’s uncle – Haiti’s ambassador to the U.S., told the Christian Monitor that he will also run for President on November 28th this year. He would not dispel reports on the likelihood of his nephew running for the highest office during the phone interview; nonetheless, he stated, “ No, I wouldn’t say running against, I would say running parallel.” This would seem to indicate that Jean may be orchestrating a major PR campaign to not only test public opinion but to also mobilize his fan base and possibly throw all of his weight behind his uncle close to election day, an Everest of an endorsement.
Not surprisingly, Eduardo Gamarra, a political science professor at Florida International University and a close follower of Haitian affairs said, "I think he [Joseph] would be a strong contender, I’m not endorsing him, but I am saying that he does fit the profile of what many expect to see in the next round: someone able to engage the international community." Gamarra did however concede that Jean probably had more resources to run a campaign than the other candidates emphasizing the importance of money.