CB2: Can This Guy Keep Us Interested In Haiti?

Le Président Jean?

I, like many of you, read this morning that former-Fugee Wyclef Jean may announce a run for president of Haiti. Jean was born in Port-au-Prince, raised in Brooklyn, and went on to become a famous hip-hop artist and industry entrepreneur. After the earthquake he helped raised over $9 million for Haiti and has been a prominent voice for continued relief in the media.


I’ve made the point on this blog before that our attention spans for crises are short, with Haiti nearly out of our minds completely (and the oil spill losing ground quickly). From that perspective, I immediately thought, “Could Wyclef Jean keep Haiti in our conscious long enough to rebuild Haiti?” Is that more important right now, or is there a lesser-known prospect equipped to do a better job?


I have never been to Haiti and couldn’t begin to speak for their needs right now, so I ask the diverse GovLoop community, after reading these 10 things to consider by Garry Pierre-Pierre, would you support Wyclef Jean’s bid for presidency?

  1. His international fame would ensure that Haiti commands steady media attention
  2. He can be a spokesman for the country, despite his poor French and Creole language skills
  3. He can lure investors into Haiti where missionaries and aid workers run roughshod over everyone.
  4. He can be a catalyst to get the international community to see the virtue in getting competent Haitians living abroad to come back to Haiti.
  5. He can inspire youth from around the world to come to Haiti
  6. He can deliver on his promises if he keeps them real
  7. He can galvanize the population that has grown cynical about the political process
  8. He will not be as tempted to corruption
  9. He will help develop art and culture institutions in a country with none but brimming with talent.
  10. He will stop the five decade old brain drain

Oil Spill Update
Last night we reached a big milestone in the oil spill recovery. The “top-kill” procedure (pumping heavy drilling mud into the cap on the top of the well) appears to have worked, essentially sealing the well from leaking more oil. The permanent “bottom-kill” procedure, better known as relief wells (explained in an earlier post of mine), is just around the corner. The relief well is just 100 feet horizontally from the problem well. Once they intersect, heavy drilling mud and concrete will seal the well from the bottom.

Meanwhile, White House energy adviser Carol Browner said this morning that a new assessment found 75% of the oil in the Gulf has been captured, burned off, evaporated or broken down. I’m a bit skeptical of that myself, but then again, if that’s not the case, where has there been new oil on our beaches since the initial push onto the Louisiana coast? No doubt there’s an immeasurable environmental impact, but I think we’re very close to the spill being out of sight, out of mind.


Website of the Week: FloodSmart.gov
FloodSmart.gov is the official site of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). It has some nice interactive tools like looking up your flood zone by address, finding an insurance agent, and my favorite – a “Cost of Flooding Calculator.”


About Chris Bennett

Chris Bennett is a self-proclaimed emergency management innovator who is trying to make government better by improving citizen preparedness and crisis communications. He’s a graduate of Wharton with a master’s from Harvard with in “Technology, Innovation, Education.” His portfolio of companies and former projects include OneStorm Hurricane Preparedness, ReadyTown, GovLive, TexasPrepares and America’s Emergency Network. Chris was the recipient of FL Governor Crist’s 2008 Public Information Award. He lives in St. Petersburg, FL, loves to fish, and has been spotted sharing a pint with GovLoop Founder Steve Ressler in Tampa.

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10 Comments

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Profile Photo Andrew Krzmarzick

Hey Chris – Not sure if you’re aware, but my wife is from Haiti…and while folks are proud of their native son, I also hear a lot of cynicism when I speak to her family members. Not even Wyclef, I think I’m hearing them say (though don’t want to speak for an entire country), would be immune to a system fraught with corruption.

Plus, I think it would dilute his impact should he become President. He has more freedom and power to raise awareness, and he can do all ten of those things above (possibly with greater effectiveness), as a well-known hip hop artist. I think he should identify someone else that he trusts with the right skill set, endorse them and become an important member of that person’s team.

Profile Photo Stephen Peteritas

I think this post really opens up the whole question of celebrity leaders. Are they good or bad or a mixed bag just like everything else? There is something that rubs me the wrong way about someone just getting to be a leader cause they do movies, yeah they might still have good ideas but I want some proof or at least track record before I vote someone in.

Also in response to the title of this article my guess is he keeps us interested until November until November: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kI6MWZrl8v8

Profile Photo Chris Bennett

Andy, that’s a great point. The reality is he would be so overwhelmed rebuilding and running Haiti that he would have little time to get out and raise awareness.

Still though, if Wyclef endorsed someone unknown to the world rather than running himself, would he be able to keep Haiti in the public eye past the election? It’s a lot like Arnold Schwarzenegger. People outside of California took interest (and still do to some extent) in what he’s doing because of the celebrity factor, but if he endorsed someone I never heard of, I wouldn’t pay much attention to it personally.

I could see “Look what President Jean is doing now and what he needs your help with…” being a somewhat regular piece in the world media. That’s again not to say that he’s the best man for the job!

Profile Photo Chris Bennett

Stephen, I believe if the celebrity is doing it for the right reasons (passionate about making a change) then it can be a great thing. Determining if that is the case is the tricky part…

Nice Gone Till November reference 🙂