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How a Former Fugee Helped Elect the President of Haiti – The New York Times


In the 1990s, Mr. Michel was recognized — if he was recognized — as the “other” member of the Grammy-winning Fugees. As the crew’s architect, he introduced the members Lauryn Hill and Wyclef Jean, both of whom went on to international fame after an acrimonious split. For a time, Mr. Michel stood in the long shadows of his bandmates, quietly pulling the strings.As producer — and one of the subjects — of “Sweet Micky for President” (which opened this month), Mr. Michel again showcases his ability to pick winners with an unseen hand. The New Jersey-bred child of Haitian immigrants, he originally set out to make a film about the catastrophic 2010 earthquake that displaced millions of Haitians and killed many thousands. In a move that was equal parts keen insight and extreme idealism, Mr. Michel turned his attention to Haiti’s presidential contest.As the director Ben Patterson follows along, Mr. Michel hatches a plan to influence the election’s outcome by tapping Michel Martelly, a.k.a. Sweet Micky, an irreverent and popular Kompa musician, known for his potty mouth and ostentatious displays. Sweet Micky sang protest songs that struck a populist tone by challenging the ineffective Haitian government. But he had a proclivity for prancing about stages wearing only a man-size diaper.Mr. Michel saw something more in the showman: a charismatic figure who could rally Haiti’s youth and set a new direction. “I basically said, ‘Michel, you should just run for president, man,’” Mr. Michel recalled of their initial telephone conversation. “I think he thought it was a joke. But I flew to his Miami home. And right there, we started to devise a plan.”

Source: The New York Times

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