alison-thurston_web.jpgOh, Wyclef. I see that you announced your plan to run for president of Haiti, along with candidates from 58 other parties. And I hear what you’re saying about being qualified for the job, with the youth clamoring for you to do your thing. I know that, at 37, you feel like you’re in touch with newer ideas for Haiti and that you’re the guy. But, Brother Man, you may need to sit down.

Haiti, as you know, is a country that has suffered from years of inept leadership, from Papa Doc’s tyranny to Aristide’s human rights abuses. When this absence of integrity in leadership is coupled with a complete lack of experience in nation-building or economic recovery, what good could come from having an elite individual who hasn’t lived in the country for years assume leadership?

The country is still reeling from the earthquake and its already frail economy is in shambles. You need to back off and allow a leader with experience and a coherent plan, neither of which you have, to take the reins. Beginner’s luck is not enough to lead a country, especially a country that has been through as much as Haiti has.

All this haterade is predicated on the idea that you’re even eligible. The Haitian Consitution states that to run for president one must, among other things, have “habitual residence” in the country and have been residing in the country for five consecutive years before the elections. Though you travel to Haiti often and have been a leading force in getting the nation more media attention, it is not where your permanent residence is.

Your advisors say that the nine years you lived in Haiti with your parents before emigrating should count, even though you’ve resided in the States since then. On Aug. 17, we’ll know the verdict of the electoral council on your candidacy but, until then, Wyclef, you still have time to spare yourself the embarrassment of being disqualified by simply dropping out and pretending all of this never happened.

Clef, my friend, Haiti needs a leader who does not have distracting scandals in his past (see: the money that has gone missing from your charity, Yele Haiti) and who knows what he’s doing. There is a chance that if you’re allowed to run, your sheer star-power could get you through to a primary, or even a victory. And then what? What would making a farce of your country’s elections do to help? If you really want to do some good for everyone, please go find Lauryn Hill and get her to start making quality records again.  Other than that, it’s best to stay out of things you know nothing about. We appreciate the sentiment, but there are many other ways to help the country.

Warm regards,


P.S. I mean it about Lauryn. Bring her back!

Alison Thurston,  a South Florida Times summer reporting intern, will enter her junior year at Princeton this fall. She may be reached at