Year In Review: An Oral History Of Wyclef Jean Running For President Of Haiti (Feat. Pras & Sean Penn)
MELKY JEAN (Wyclef Jean’s sister): I was on an airplane to New York City. [Wyclef] called me and said, “Are you sitting down?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “I’m ready to run for president of Haiti.” It was a combination of understanding that Haiti needed a change and needed him. He really felt like he could be the voice of Haiti’s youth… I was excited, I was happy, and I was also afraid, because when you are on a political [path], you now become a target of so many things. I grew up in Haiti with my brother, I’ve been to Haiti with him and on my own, and the people love him because they can reach out and touch him. So I had became a bit concerned for his security, but then I was so excited just to think about the things that I knew that not only he would be able to bring to the country, but a great team of thinkers and economic strategists and teachers.
JEAN (Wyclef Jean’s brother): I think after the earthquake, he realized that there’s only so much you can do when you’re not involved in the political process. You can have a charity organization, and for example, if you want to give out water in Haiti, that’s great. But when there’s no infrastructure that builds roads, there’s only so much you can do. And I think at that point, he realized that in terms of his humanitarian [efforts], he had done as much as he can do, and in order to really make change he had to be involved in the political process.
ROLAND S. MARTIN (CNN political analyst): If you think about the history of politics, I think about Ruben Blades, an actor who ran for the president of Panama. Also when you look at what’s happened in this country for years, Warren Beatty’s named has been tossed around. You have any number of other actor and actresses people have approached. You look at Sonny Bono, you look at the guy who played Gopher in The Love Boat [Fred Grandy], so we’ve had [actors turned politicians] in America do this. It wasn’t surprising to hear Wyclef wanted to do this, because again, if somebody has such a love for their country, they want to see things change, then they’re willing to put aside their personal ambitions for a greater purpose.