*Rapper-turned-presidential candidate Wyclef Jean has fired back at Sean Penn after the actor criticized his decision to run as president of Haiti, insisting he has “sweat blood” for his native country.
The former Fugees star launched his official bid for office on Thursday, vowing to help turn around Haiti’s fortunes following the devastating earthquake which struck the nation in January.
Penn recently moved to Haiti so that he can live closer to his ongoing relief work in the region. But he was not impressed with the news of Jean’s political campaign, claiming the rapper has been absent in Haiti since the quake and raising concerns about allegations the star misused money donated to his Yele Haiti charity.
He told CNN, “He has been virtually silent for those of us in Haiti; he has been a non-presence. His voice has really been most loudly that which allegedly (sic) has taken over $400,000 designated for Haitian relief for himself and claims he didn’t do it. That has to be looked into.”
Speaking on “The Gayle King Show” on Friday, Jean refuted Penn’s claims, saying he has “sweat blood” for Haiti and played a vital part in keeping the peace in Haiti after the country’s former president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, fled.
“What I want Sean Penn to know is, if I was not in Haiti after Jean-Bertrand Aristide left, if I did not create (my charity) Yele Haiti to start stopping the violence, even him coming to Haiti would not have been possible today,” said Jean.
The artist also responded to accusations he was out of touch with local issues having moved to the U.S. when he was nine, insisting he is an ideal candidate for president because “the psychology of the Haitian people is something that I understand (sic) ever since birth.”
He added, “I would like to tell Sean Penn I do not act on emotions when it comes to the Haitian people. Sean Penn must understand that besides what he sees in Haiti, there are four million diasporas living outside of Haiti that is actually the commerce… that’s bringing $2 billion per year (for the country). And guess what, I am part of that community also.”