August 17, 2010; Source: New York Times | The New York Times today took on the possible effects of Wyclef Jean’s philanthropic conduct on his bid for the presidency of Haiti. The popular recording artist is Haitian born and founded Yéle Haiti, a charity aimed at changing lives in his homeland.
In the wake of the recent earthquake, the foundation brought in $10.5 million for relief efforts but only a third of this has been spent even in the face of extreme need, and there are many questions even about those expenditures. I’ll let you read the details in the article itself but the authors concede that Jean has many ardent supporters in Haiti and that the “way Yéle has performed in the aftermath of the quake is difficult to gauge.”
Sign up for our free newsletters
Subscribe to NPQ's newsletters to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.
A spokesman says that the charity has distributed food and water and a $500,000 CT scanner and has bought transitional shelters, which are awaiting land to be provided by the government—but that land acquisition may now be held up by the fact of Jean’s candidacy.
It is not clear that Jean, who has recently distanced himself from Yéle, will be qualified by the Haitian government to run since he may not meet the residency requirement but if he is qualified many will be closely watching the charitable expenditures made from Yéle for any hint of electioneering. This, of course, may be a hard line to draw since resources are still thin in Haiti and Yéle will be present providing them. As one leader of a Haitian tent camp observes, “Wyclef is Yéle; Yéle is Wyclef”.—Ruth McCambridge