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Fresh off controversial visit to Jamaica, Kanye West arrives in Haiti

By Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

Music-producer, rapper and U.S. presidential candidate Kanye West is in Haiti.

West, who was in Jamaica a week ago, landed at the Hugo Chavez International Airport in the northern city of Cap-Haitien shortly after 10 a.m. Friday. He was greeted by two women dressed in a traditional Haitian maxi dress bearing two bouquets of the local flowers.

So far West, an avid Twitter user, has not said anything on his timeline about what brings him to the Caribbean country, or its most historic city and the region from which the nation was born. The last major battle of the Haitian Revolution, the Battle of Vertieres, was fought just south of Cap-Haitien, and the city played a role near the end of the revolution before Jean-Jacques Dessalines declared Haiti the world's first free black republic on Jan. 1, 1804.

West was greeted by Haitian President Jovenel Moise, who traveled from Port-au-Prince to meet the American artist and serve as tour guide. The two, joined by their respective entourages, later boarded a boat at Labadee, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines's temporarily closed private destination, to head out. A video shared on Facebook showed the two traveling along northern Haiti's coastline without masks and chatting.

Haiti's Tourism Ministry said on its Facebook page that West came to visit Labadee, a plant breeding center in the northwest being launched by the president and the Île de La Tortue or Tortuga Island off the northwest coast of Haiti. The inspiration for the film "Pirates of the Caribbean," the island was a major center for Caribbean piracy, and today is a popular launching pad for illegal voyages by Haitian migrants.

Last week, West visited Jamaica, where he created a stir when he appeared maskless in a photo alongside Jamaican reggae icon Buju Banton at Banton's Gargamel recording studio in Kingston. Also in the photo was Roc-A-Fella Records co-founder Kareem "Biggs" Burke.

 

Due to Jamaica's COVID-19 policies that all visitors in the country must remain in quarantine for 14 days, tourists must stay in the "Resilience Corridor," and everyone is required to wear a mask, even in a workplace, Jamaicans demanded to know if West had broken COVID-19 protocols.

Both Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Health Minister Christopher Tufton said the matter was being investigated.

While Haiti does not have a mandatory mask policy, West was observed wearing one when he landed.

Haiti currently has 8,624 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 221 deaths. Even with the country's poor testing record, experts have been surprised by the relatively low number of cases of the virus, which also appears to be less severe there when it strikes.

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