(See also, Actor Sean Penn on his work in Haiti - the Charlie Rose interview.)
Two things we know for sure: Hollywood and Hip Hop get media attention. And, for Haiti that translates into big media hype and megaphones for actor Sean Penn and rapper-turned-presidential candidate, Wyclef Jean.
that people's trust and naive responses to
celebrities-turned-scholar -on-Haiti and Haiti's future are unseemly and
Think: how may we use this upcoming and unprecedented 3-months media glare - the elections are scheduled for November 28, 2010 - to help the 2 million Haitians made homeless by the earthquake stay alive, sheltered, not in rotted tents but more permanent abodes, with water, food, medicine and maybe some jobs; push for the monies raised to be used for Haiti's domestic growth and the victims directly, for fair trade not sweatshops and poor Haiti subsidizing toxic Monsanto's future profits, et al and push to get rid of the poverty pimp NGOs, end the UN occupation by showing the failures, these last six-years, of the UN, the NGOs, Clinton, their repugnance? (Haiti ill-served by aid by Ezili Dantò of HLLN.)
How to use this media glare? To take away the smiley face that was put on tyranny, UN/US occupation and the benevolent face put on structural poverty, white venality and vampirism in Black Haiti? The real narrative on Haiti cannot be allowed to fall through the cracks while this PENN/WYCLEF-hype gives the US corporatocracy and Haiti oligarchy more cover to continue their pillage, plunder of Haiti's resources, impoverishment and destruction of Haiti. There's work to do, people. (See, The Slavery in Haiti the Media Won't Expose; What UN Special Envoy Bill Clinton May do to Help Haiti, 2001- outline and full text; What Haitian Americans Ask of the New US Congress and President; Haiti's Riches - expose the false stereotypes; A map of some of Haiti's mining resources; The Poverty Pimps' Masturbating on Black Pain: Monsanto joins the pack and Vision of Plantation Haiti - A White Pearl, Again!)
"As a result of these US free trade policies, over 830,000 rural Haitian jobs were lost and hundreds of thousands of Haitians were forced into the capital looking for work, where eventually they would meet up with Jan 12 at 4:53. " (Vision of Plantation Haiti - A White Pearl, Again!" ; "We accomplished our own ends in the United States on the tears of Haitian children."- Intro of the panelists at an MIT presentation on Haiti-Video.)
WYCLEF'S RUN FOR PRESIDENT OF HAITI, SEAN PENN TAKE:
So far, the Sean Penn's script in Haiti, has been written by USAID and the US State Department as we noted back in May when he testified before the foreign relations committee. (Sean Penn, new spokesperson for Colonialism, Exclusion and Haiti's Oligarchy: he says, don't encourage Haiti's independence, that's premature and murder!)
But, the Hollywood's bad boy, one time heroin user, reputed cokehead, former husband to Lady Gaga's godmother, Madonna, who once filed assault charges against him, is starting to get a clue almost 7-months into his Haiti sojourn and the Charlie Rose interview marks that demarcation.
Still, Penn's paternalism and white privilege arrogance is so offensive that even if he's starting to see the NGO's are a business in Haiti, his notion that he's qualified to speak about Wyclef's run because of his six-months in Haiti, is blatantly offensive.
Penn is not an opportunist. I have it on good eyewitness authority that he genuinely manages the best tent camp in Port au Prince. But he seems to believe he has STANDING and legitimate media authority to say, not the Haitian people, but for HIM to say, because of his running the tent camp, that Wyclef Jean should not be running for president. There are just no words to express the temerity of these white boys sometimes. Penn is simply NOT the proper person to take this issue to - the people in Haiti are! How is it that they are being by-passed for Penn's opinions? How could Sean Penn not even get it that seven-months after the earthquake, his very presence in Haiti, still at a tent city golf RESORT, which he puts HIS name on, is merely further evidence of the Jake Sully/Tarzan messiah complex as played out in Haiti, in Africa, everywhere in Black and Brown countries, not much different from the NGO as a business issue he is denouncing. (Haiti and the Aid Racket: How NGOs are Profiting Off a Grave Situation.)
There are forces behind each of these people - Penn and Wyclef Jean, with political interests that may not be similar to what the masses in Haiti see for themselves. Forces perhaps that neither Penn nor Jean are fully aware of, and may not understand who pull the strings and manipulated them into both being stooges for empire.
For one, recall how, before the earthquake Wyclef Jean was a media darling and a US/UN/Clinton favorite in Haiti. He was Ambassador-at- Large with a security detail and VIP treatment at the airport. When the earthquake hit that favor was transferred to clueless, first-time-doing Haiti-charity-work, Sean Penn! Not the security detail, but his crew had access to the airport when regular Haitians and more veteran search and rescue and first responders were being denied; access to military logistics while Wyclef Jean's crew had to come in through the Dominican Republic! At one point in the early days, when Wyclef Jean went to the airport with a crowd of Haitians to pick up the mounds of food, water, medicines that was just piling up there, he was denied, the crowd of eager-to-help Haiti youths who had followed him witnessed this treatment of Wyclef, embarrassed and shamed and force to leave empty handed.
Meanwhile Sean Penn's star in Haiti was rising, in his
safe compound on a golf resort area fully protected by the military.
Nevermind that most Haitians in Kafou Fey and elsewhere outside this
"green zone," had no access to medicine, water, blood transfusions, no
safety or that in general, and notwithstanding Sean Penn's well run
camp, many of the World Relief organizations and various other NGOS
are, in the main, using aid monies for paying their high-end salaries,
traveling, for shipping fees to their own companies, for attending
meetings ad nausea, some buying prostitutes and living the high life in
World Vision, among other NGOs are leasing homes in the Haiti mountains of upper Petionville for from $6,000 to 12,000 per month paying for electricity and everything else plus renting huge SUVs from the Haitian Oligarchy. While the Haitian elite are taking this opportunity to leave Haiti and rent their plush homes for big money raised for earthquake victim relief. The new ROTATIONS from the World Relief organizations and the extra UN/US deployed personnel since the earthquake have comfortably replaced those flown out as the "new foreign elite moving in."
All this is going on. But none of the top Haiti charity moneymakers' tax returns were publicly exposed by the IRS or were dressed down by the media for their misuse of Haiti funds. NGO businesses like Red Cross, World Vision, Care International, Catholic Relief Services, UN world food programs, known charities that have been collecting on Haiti's poverty and pillaging Haiti for decades after decades, none of them were dressed down for their misuse of dollars collected in Haiti. But soon after the earthquake, ONLY Wyclef Jean's Yele foundation was singled out and uncovered to have IRS problems and a more than $410,000 questionable handling issue in his management of Yele Haiti foundation funds.
Before the earthquake, these problems were not made public or cited anywhere that we know about. Wyclef was needed then to put a smiley Haitian face to US imperialism. But he's being reigned in now and there is a reason. A black messiah who save earthquake victims, has Hollywood cache, a tent city, and who was not stopped from competing with Red Cross for donation dollars probably isn't controllable enough for the US Kingmakers in Haiti. It's no surprise to us at Ezili's HLLN that today the actor Sean Penn, the new carefully cultivated Haiti "expert," suddenly is the one 'suspicious' of Wyclef Jean's bid for Haiti president and getting a huge mainstream platform to say so. Notice, in the USA Today article photo, Sean Penn is wearing his Haiti medal. He's our new white expert on "all things Haitian!" ( See, also Sean Penn Hopes His Critics Get Rectal Cancer ; Youtube Video - Sean Penn 'suspicious' of Wyclef Jean's bid for Haiti president .) Where's Paul Farmer, ya'll? We've gone into cartoon land. The sideshow eclipses the living, breathing, suffering Haiti people enduring over 6-nightmarish years of US/US occupation and slaughters and NGO pillage never covered by the mainstream media. The election carnival is just beginning and has reduced, for the moment, the worst disaster in recorded human history to what actor Sean Penn has to say about hip hop rapper Wyclef Jean's run to sit at the crumbled National Palace in Haiti! Elections under occupation? Neither are saying - krik, not a word, about that!
WYCLEF JEAN: Rapper turned Presidential Candidate
Even if by some stretchhhhh, Mr. Wyclef Jean, should point to his 2007 appointment as Ambassador-at-large by President Preval as "residency in Haiti." He still falls short.
Sean Penn's anti-war work on Iraq did not sit well with the embedded media and US military, but he made it up with the media and US military in post earthquake Haiti.
Once, the media had labeled him, "Baghdad Sean" and accused Sean Penn of undermining American solidarity in a time of crisis. Penn's support and visits to Venezuela president, Hugo Chavez and to Cuba meeting with Raul Castro, both sworn enemies of American imperialism, also got him in trouble with the mainstream media and military. Not any more.
Today, he's now a CNN, Larry King, Charlie Rose, et al... darling, not relentless attacked for his "anti-American stands against the war in Iraq." No, he's a "humanitarian" now, losing no chance to praise the US military presence in Haiti. US State Department/USAID mostly write the actor's script in Haiti. He's palpable now. Digestible now. So, he's become a regular "go to" person whom the mainstream media will quote and consult with on the "Haiti situation." Ahhh, the uses of Haiti! (See also, Who is Rajiv Shah, What are Haiti concerns about Shah/USAID.)
"Baghdad Sean" gets on the good side of the US military and mainstream media in Haiti. (See the May 19 Senate Hearing on Haiti. Read Sean Penn's testimony praising the US military, Preval and the NGOs and urging the militarization of aid relief efforts as well as continued US/UN occupation.) Although the UN itself has said that violent Haiti is a myth and although the statistics show that there is more violence in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Brazil and even in some places in the US, than there is in Haiti, Sean Penn, mouthing the Haiti Oligarchy, mainstream media, NGO and USAID/State Department's colonial narrative, writes and testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, that:
"President Preval and his administration have proven in their pre-quake efforts the will of Haiti to overcome its devastating legacy. But to demand of them, or encourage their demand of a fractured society's independence prematurely, will be murder by another name." -- Sean Penn, May 19 Senate Hearing on Haiti .
In fact, "Hellhole Haiti" is not as Violent as Peoria, Illinois. Haiti's homicide rate is five and a half times less than the average homicide rate in the entire Caribbean. The average for Haiti is 5.6 per 100,000 and the average for the Caribbean is 30 homicide per 100,000).
Sean Penn's organization appears to be trying hard in Haiti to help save the lives in his golf resort tent city. There's no denying that his camp's efforts have helped dying earthquake victims, have given morphine to patients screaming in pain, provided medicine, blood transfusions to keep them alive. That relief work is necessary and not discounted. Still, in the long run, when seven month on, people are still in Sean Penn's camp, living in tents, not homes, this sort of "development" may soon become dependency.
Penn public statements are evidence that he does not clearly see the unseen hands pulling the strings, manipulating from the very beginning or that Western military power and white privilege have vied for the soul of Black folks since the days of the missionaries. Penn does not seem to question how HE came to get this privilege of his OWN tent camp in Haiti. He seems to take it for GRANTED that, with no previous Haiti experience, he actually EARNED this position to manage the camp. He doesn't seem to see the entitlement, or the strings attached and unintended harm being done as emergency phase turns into rebuilding phase and the people's lives evidence no rebuilding. Doesn't seem to want to know that Haitians are not children; that with the resources, access and connections made available to HIM and his foreign organization and staffers by USAID, UN, the US military, Haitians in Haiti would have done more, saved more lives, covered a wider geographical area of people. Haitians in Haiti simply know the ground better than Penn.
On the Charlie Rose show, Penn said he intends a movie on his Haiti presence in the future. He explains Haitians are like "props" in a movie set put together by NGO's. Nonetheless, he says he sees himself as a DIRECTOR in the Haiti tent camp scenario with presumably Haiti's people as props?
Mr. Penn appears to have NO CLUE how USAID/US State Department/Pentagon, more schooled in the patterns of privilege and domination are USING him to further their "do-gooder" narrative and deflect away from 6-years of failure in Haiti since the occupation and NGO republic began in earnest.
As you watch the Charlie Rose interview, there's a clear picture the NGO's are a business, they are in Haiti to keep Haiti dependent, continue their business existence using the poverty for their benefit.
Penn's best lines,
1. "the rest of the world live like this, America is the fringe..."
2. "A prominent Haitian said to me 'when the apocalypse come, the survivors will be roaches, rats and Haitians.' The Haitians will survive " (no matter what...)"
3. Penn's worst line
Recycling unfounded charges against Pres. Aristide. He says that Aristide's "rising personal power issue gave in to narco trafficking, if not personally CERTAINLY indirectly, "that gave into violence, so you didn't have the basic security in the country, trust in the police in Haiti!" (go to 33:15) He goes on to parrot USAID/State Department about what a wonderful job Preval was doing before the earthquake ...presumably he was "DECENTRALIZING" power!!!
Someone ought to have given Sean Penn a clue. Not to say a known coke-head can't have a valid point, smoking drugs and being a heavy drinker doesn't mean one condones how drugs gets from Haiti to America. So I won't point out Sean Penn's 'old drug problem, jail time and assault charges. I think Madonna pressed charges for assault and then withdrew them for a straight divorce. So I won't go there at all. The clue Sean Penn needs to get is that to come to a nation and start impugning its legally elected President on drug charges is a bit arrogant, if not hypocritical in the altogether. Besides, he's dead wrong. Aristide didn't bring the violence to Haiti, he was raised in the poverty violence; he was raised in neo-colonial Haiti and a 30-year US-supported Duvalier dictatorship. Violence in Haiti is not only evidenced by the NGO dependency business today but is made entrenched there by the US/UN military occupation herald in by the two violent Bush Coup d'etat's that summarily disfranchised 10 million Black Haitians, killed 20,000 and subjects the masses to the unprecedented nightmare Haitians have been living under since the bicentennial coup detat and return of the Oligarchy macoutes/elites and vampire internationals back to power in Haiti.
Duvalier's macoutes and Haiti's army junta have been supplementing their income with allowing drug trafficking up from Columbia, et al... way before Aristide came to power in 1990. Many of the top army leaders, like the drug trafficker Michel Francois and coup d'etat leader, General Raoul Cedras, were on US payroll and trained at Fort Benin Georgia, way before Aristide came into office. Haiti's poor, whom Aristide was a spokesperson for, own no planes, no cocaine fields and the DEA suspected drug dealer who helped oust Aristide, Guy Philippe, was originally trained by US Special Forces and financed by US and trained by US or US proxies from the Dominican Republic to invade Haiti in 2004.
In terms of decentralization of Haiti, Aristide tried to decentralized power, empower Haiti's 565 communal sections and not just Port au Prince. That wasn't acceptable to the US and internationals because they did not want his community organizing to work, or participatory democracy in Haiti. The US and Haiti oligarchy want ELECTORAL democracy, not participatory democracy. Elections under occupation where THEY control the elections, manage them, steal them or hi-jack them. The US talks of decentralization of Port au Prince, but it was the first US occupation (1915 to 1934) that made Port au Prince the seat of power the better to run their colony. USAID/US have no intention of allowing decentralization, unless they can control all 565 sections. It's easier to just buy off the politicians in Port au Prince and be done with it.
For, in 2004, the US Special Forces went into Haiti to take out, kidnap and exile to Africa, Haiti's democratically elected President Aristide eventually leading to the weaker President Rene Preval and this over six-years of UN occupation. The reason for Bush Regime change II, besides the fear Pres. Aristide would nationalize the country's oil, gold, iridium and other mining resources to help truly develop Haiti, was because President Aristide raised the minimum wage to $1.60 per day and got those sweatshop assembly plant owners hopping mad! In contrast, in 2009, US puppet President Preval vetoed a Parliament vote to increase the minimum wage saying the increase would hurt US businesses! (See, Minimum wage and maximum rage.)
If Wyclef is going to be criticized on this because he's hobnobbing with Wall Street corporate interests to the detriment, in Sean Penn's opinion, of Haiti's people and promoting the H.O.P.E. "sweatshop" legislations, then, how much more should Penn's media firepower be aimed, on the actual POLICYMAKERS, the architects, who push sweatshop, by force, upon Haiti's poor while fleecing the countries riches, behind UN guns?
The "corporate interests and individuals enamored with Wyclef" to quote Sean Penn, are, in our view, the very same folks Sean Penn hangs daily with for his organization's works in Haiti. That is, those promoting and pursuing the failed wage slavery plan today, include: USAID, the Obama Adminstration at Hillary Clinton's State Department, the UN's Ban Ki Moon, Susan Rice, US Special Envoy Bill Clinton, the Haiti Oligarchy, the US Congress who passed the two H.O.P.E "sweatshop" legislations, along with mostly the entire Congressional Black Caucus as collaborators. Low- wage assembly plant duty free jobs are Washington's vision for Haiti reconstruction. It's been their vision and failed Haiti policy for over 30-years. (See, Rebuilding Haiti - The Sweatshop Hoax; Obama's empty promises: Change did not come, 2009 ; Haiti's Holocaust and Middle Passage Continues ; Obama's offered HOPE is sweatshop slavery.)
Responding to Penn's criticism, Wyclef reportedly said that after president Aristide left, if he had not created his Yele Haiti charity to help stop the violence, even Sean Penn's coming to Haiti would not have been possible today.
President Aristide did not willingly leave Haiti. He was kidnapped. Wyclef remained silent, supported the violent rule-by-force rebels. Then collaborated with those who benefited from the international crime against Haiti's people - corporate interests, Haiti's Oligarchy, the UN, Clinton and the US - putting a smiley and benevolent face on occupation, never denouncing the UN slaughters of the young Black men of Site Soley. He insults the Haitian people's intelligence. Penn patronizes them.
Ezili Dantò of HLLN
Recommended HLLN Link:
Spike Lee praises Sean Penn's work in Haiti
Haiti's (Would Be) Hip-Hop President, New York Times
Wyclef Jean Seeks the Haitian Presidency: A Breath of Fresh Air -- or a Dabbler who will Break Haiti's Heart? by COHA Research Associate Alice Barrett
The Root: Dear Wyclef, Please Don't Run! by Marjorie Valbrun
(Ezili's Note: Interesting article by Ms. Valbrun. But besides this idea that Haiti needs TECHNOCRATS presumably who take their marching orders from Washington not the Haitian people, I note a statement she makes that gives pause. She writes that Haiti doesn't need Wyclef as President but someone who can: "tamp down the country's cyclical social unrest."!!!
IRS hit Wyclef w/ $2.1 million tax liens
Haitian presidential candidate owes for 1040 returns
Recommended Ezili Dantò/HLLN Links:
Building wealth, power and their resumes on the tears of Haiti children
- Who is Rajiv Shah, What are Haiti concerns about Shah/USAID
- Haiti's Voiceless Speaks to : Where's the call for investigation into UN Slaughters in Haiti?
The HOPE Deception of Haiti by the Haitian Blogger
http://bit.ly/cQO2Rs Why Don't They Spend the Money Now, When People Need It? http://bit.ly/axvFQX;
Houston businesses look to capitalize on Haiti disasters http://bit.ly/cpmzvm ;
and Following the Aid Money to Haiti http://bit.ly/9e536c ;
and Cash for Clinton -- in the U.N.'s New Haiti Peacekeeping Budget http://bit.ly/dtLjQq
and With Haiti in Ruins, Some U.N. Relief Workers Live Large on 'Love Boat' http://bit.ly/bBFn4b
and U.N.'s Haiti 'Flotel' Overpriced ($72,00 per day), Says Expert
and Red Cross under fire! Where's the money for Haiti?