The walls of Port-au-Prince do talk, with the graffiti scrawled all over them in red, green and black. In the past few weeks, the pleas for help, the rants against Préval, have been joined by two new words in support of a singer: "Viv Wyclef."
While Wyclef Jean was barred from running in Haiti's upcoming elections last Friday, yesterday he released a song that played on Haitian radio stations criticizing the election officials who disqualified him. He intends to contest their decision.
We interviewed several people to ask if they would vote for Wyclef, if he were allowed to run. One woman in the Sou Piste tent city said yes, because Wyclef had come to the camp and they were given water and radios. Esther Boucicault, founder of FEBS, an organization that offers support for people living with HIV, wondered why Wyclef and Haitian singer Michel Martelly, who is also running for president, couldn't just use their considerable wealth to help people now. "Why do they have to run for president? They can do so much now. Can't Wyclef build a big city and call it Cité Yele?" she asked. "And there are so many people who have been ravaged by HIV. Why can't they build a big hospital for people living with HIV?"
In the Petionville camp, aka Sean Penn's camp, a soft-spoken man, with his daughter nestled on his lap, explained why he would vote for Wyclef. But as he spoke, he was continuously interrupted by the angry mutterings of another man, Paul Nixon. Paul was angry that Wyclef was running. He was angry because he felt that the NGOs had come to Haiti to make money—he described how people from these various organizations were living it up in Haiti, staying at posh hotels, eating at fancy restaurants. And he was angry that people were heralding Sean Penn's camp as a model. The goal, he said, should not be to live in a tent, surrounded by mud and filth, like an animal. This was not his definition of success. The fact that foreigners thought the camp sufficient, that they seemed okay with the fact that Haitians were living like this, seven months after the earthquake, made Paul, well, angry—and rightly so.
Video shot by Andre Lambertson and edited by Walter Smith-Randolph and Uche Abanobi.