Wyclef Jean asks Haitians to give up crime

Mon Mar 31, 2008 4:09am EDT
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By Joseph Guyler Delva

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - In a radio ad sponsored by the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti, Grammy Award-winning musician Wyclef Jean is asking his fellow citizens to give up crime and work to improve the country.

"If you love Wyclef, that means you love Haiti. So you should not be raping women, kidnapping people and children, because there can be no excuse for doing so," Jean said in Creole in a short ad run several times a day by local stations in Haiti.

"I reject these evil practices," said the 35-year-old Jean, who also urged Haitian men to respect and protect women's rights.

Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas has battled decades of political upheaval, dictatorship, military rule and violence.

Haitian police and U.N. authorities have noted a rise in crime over the past several weeks and are trying to counter a wave of kidnappings and crimes perpetrated by gangs in the capital and some provincial areas.

Official figures show 36 people were kidnapped for ransom in Port-au-Prince during March, and about 30 in February. The number had dropped to fewer than 20 a month.

Fred Blaise, a spokesman for the U.N. police, said Jean's popularity among Haitians from across the social spectrum may positively influence youngsters involved in crime, and could motivate others to stay out of trouble.

"All kinds of Haitians, the good guys as well as the bad guys, have a lot of appreciation for Wyclef for what he represents as a Haitian," Blaise told Reuters on Sunday.   Continued...

<p>Haiti-born hip-hop producer Wyclef Jean speaks to the media as he holds his daughter Angelina Claudinelle after their arrival at the International Airport in Port-au-Prince December 14, 2007. i. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz</p>