Wyclef Jean’s vision for Haiti
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) – Wyclef Jean, the potential front-runner in Haiti’s Nov. 28 election said he supports the U.S. and U.N. vision for rebuilding Haiti’s economy after its magnitude-7 earthquake — a plan that encourages private investment in factories, agriculture and other areas.
He also hit back at critics of his own personal finances, including allegations over his use of post-quake charity funds and the revelation he personally owes $2.1 million in back taxes to the United States.
“We can provide a way to get (Haitians) out of the mess they’re in. And the way that that’s going to happen (is) education, job creation and investment for Haiti,” Jean said in the wide-ranging interview Thursday evening.
The Haitian-born, Brooklyn-raised singer is attempting a difficult and potentially dicey transformation: From multimillionaire international recording artist to leader of one of the world’s poorest and most dysfunctional countries — and doing so through a pivotal and difficult election.
Among the best known figures in his native country, Jean — who left as a child — speaks American-accented Creole to crowds and New York-accented English at home. His estimated annual income of up to $18 million is more than 13,000 times more than the average Haitian sees in a year — assuming that person even has a job.
If he wins the presidency, the ex-Fugee frontman said he would encourage donors to invest heavily in education. He also endorsed the economic vision promoted by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the U.N. special envoy who is in Haiti this week. Those plans include creating jobs in the garment export industry, boosting tourism and building the capacity of Haitian farmers to reduce the nation’s chronic dependence on imports.
Perhaps he’ll run stronger in Haiti than he did in the US: