Sean Penn Questions Wyclef Jean Running for President of Haiti

The activist actor says the musician has been a "non-presence" in Haiti for the past six months

After Wyclef Jean announced he would be running for president of Haiti, countless supporters stood behind the musician's decision to represent his native country. But the news was also met by several skeptics, including one fellow famous activist who is questioning Jean's bid for the presidency.

Actor Sean Penn, something of a notorious figure in the political world himself, spoke with CNN about Jean. Penn, 49, who has been living in Port-au-Prince for months to help the victims of the devastating earthquake that ravaged Haiti, told host Wolf Blitzer, "This is somebody who's going to receive an enormous amount of support from the United States, 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." 

The actor questions Jean's commitment to changing the state of affairs in the embattled nation. "I haven't seen or heard anything of (him) in these last six months that I've been in Haiti. I think he's an important voice. I hope he doesn't sacrifice that voice by taking the eye off the very devastating realities on the ground," Penn explained. "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."

How did Jean respond to Penn's criticism of his political ambitions? "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 told the Associated Press. "He might just want to pick up the phone and meet, so he fully understands the man."

The Oscar winner has also addressed the controversy surrounding Jean and his nonprofit organization Yele Haiti, in which the musician was accused of using some of the funds for his own personal use. Jean had vehemently denied the allegations during a tearful press conference. "He claims he didn't do it," Penn of the story. "That has to be looked into. I've been there. I know what $400,000 could do for these people's lives."

During the segment, Penn drove home the fact that he worried about U.S. support for Jean coming from people being "enamored" with him. As he told Blitzer, "I see in Wyclef Jean somebody who could well have been influenced by the promise of support of companies. I think Haiti is clearly vulnerable ... There is a history of American interests coming in and underpaying people. This is a culture of one to two dollars a day, that they were making."

Do you think Wyclef Jean is qualified to run for president of Haiti? Chime in below!

Like This? Read These:
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- Wyclef Jean May Run for President of Haiti
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