Sean Penn vs. Wyclef Jean: The Battle Begins
The actor speaks out on why he’s suspicious of the rapper running for President in Haiti.
We had a feeling someone would be opposed to Wyclef Jean running for President of Haiti, and we were right. After officially announcing his presidential bid on CNN yesterday, Jean was met with some harsh words of criticism coming from none other than Sean Penn.
The oscar winner has had a big hand in helping Haitian victims after the earthquake which destroyed Port-au-Prince. He’s spent the past six months on the ground in Haiti, and has seen the destruction first-hand. He expressed concern last night that Jean hasn’t proven himself to be a proper candidate for the challenging job of rebuilding the country.
“This is somebody who’s going to receive an enormous amount of support from the United States,” Penn said of Jean, “and I have to say I’m very suspicious of it, simply because he, as an ambassador at large, has been virtually silent. For those of us in Haiti, he has been a non-presence.”
Penn went on to question Jean’s political motives and how he handled himself on a recent trip to Haiti. “I want to see someone who’s really, really willing to sacrifice for their country, and not just someone who I personally saw with vulgar entourage of vehicles that demonstrated a wealth in Haiti that, in context, I felt was a very obscene demonstration,” he said.
Jean, who was born in Haiti, left the country as a child and moved to the U.S. Here, he became a multimillion-dollar recording artist rapping with the Fugees. However, he has always tried to help his home country, and set up the Yele Haiti foundation in 2004 to help impoverished Haitians. Though, Penn pointed out that Jean allegedly mishandled $400,000 worth of donations to his foundation before the earthquake.
In response, Jean said yesterday while kicking off his rally for support in Haiti, “I just want Sean Penn to fully understand I am a Haitian, born in Haiti and I’ve been coming to my country ever since (I was) a child. He might just want to pick up the phone and meet, so he fully understands the man.”
Tell us: do you think Sean Penn is overreacting, or should we all be suspicious of Wyclef Jean’s motives in Haiti?
Faye Brennan is assistant editor at BettyConfidential.