Dec 15, 2006

Hatian Shottas released Wyclefs friend

Hip hop star Wyclef Jean is breathing easier today now that Haitian kidnappers have released one of his employees.We told you last week about Clef's journey back to his homeland as part of his Yele Haiti relief program. Little did we know a life-and-death drama was going on behind the scenes. On Nov. 30, the same day Wyclef dressed up as Santa and gave presents to 600 children at his Telemax studios, gunmen abducted a producer near the Port-au-Prince headquarters of the station. The next day, Wyclef learned that the kidnappers wanted $250,000 for the safe return of Telemax newsman Bidthlerson Brutus. Wyclef was unable to talk directly with the hostage-takers. But that night, performing for an audience of 20,000 (and many more via TV), he sent a message to all those seeking to ransom their way out of poverty. "If there are kidnappers out there, listen to me," the Grammy nominee said, without mentioning Brutus by name. "If we don't stop kidnappings, the country can't develop." The next day, the captors released Brutus, who'd been kept blindfolded for three days. No money was paid. "We freed the journalist after considering how much effort Wyclef is doing to help our sisters and brothers in the forgotten ghettos," one of the captors, who called himself The Commander, told SOS Journalistes-Haiti, which helped negotiate Brutus' release. The Commander said he had three children. According to the Haitian Times, he added: "I don't like what I'm doing, but I don't think I have an alternative for the time being. Sometimes I really want to stop. … I wish I could have a normal life." Wyclef suspects the incident may be related to his laying off employees when he bought the station earlier this year. "I think it was a person who felt hatred," he tells us. "Sometimes the evil side of a person's mind takes over. But later he asks, 'What the hell am I doing?' I'm just happy that Mr. Brutus is home alive." The New York-based singer isn't letting the crisis stop him from pressing on with more than a dozen programs to bring prosperity to his country. "I'm redoubling my efforts," he says. "Nothing is going to discourage me." source:nydailynews

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