The opposition parties exists only in name and they are plentiful. But we don’t hear much about their plans and their vision for the country, even during elections. The attitude is “give me the power and I will show you.” That is warped logic and it has gotten us anything but warped reality.

August 2015 elections. Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Photo Credit: Garry Pierre-Pierre

By Garry Pierre-Pierre

A couple of weeks ago, as the Haitian opposition began preparing its “Lock Down” protests against President Jovenel Moise, the embattled leader made a few moves that caught my attention. Moise quietly backed United States’ position on supporting Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the Trump administration seeks to isolate President Nicolas Maduro.

In the midst of the daily violent and deadly protests, Moise recalled his ambassador to the United States, Paul Altidor. And Moise did not address the nation until late last week, even as calls intensified for his departure from power.

The last two moves are not those of a rattled and embattled leader. Some sources in Haiti have told me that Moise’s confidence stems from his support on the Venezuela issue, guaranteed him U.S. support from opposition groups as protests mounted in cities across Haiti.

In the next few days, the State Department and White House will start leaning on some opposition leaders and businessmen who are leading the protests. There is always the threat of visa cancellation and frozen assets to bring some recalcitrant folks into the fold.

Ambassador Altidor became sort of persona non grata to the Trump Administration for this advocacy on behalf of nearly 60,000 Haitians living in the U.S. who face deportation after president Trump cancelled Temporary Protected Status.

And when Moise addressed the nation, he spoke in vague terms about condoning violence and sympathizing with the victims. He didn’t address some of the root causes of the protests: corruption, economic malaise and incompetence.

But this is a temporary reprieve and Moise is too weak to govern efficiently. He can kick this can down the road for now. But the can isn’t out of the way. It’s waiting. I don’t support the call for Moise departure, unlike many people, because I am old enough to know that it will not solve anything.

We have to remember that tactic has been used over and over again in Haiti to no good results. Most of us forgot that Michel Martelly left the presidency vacant, creating a constitutional crisis. He failed to organize parliamentary elections and never paved the way for presidential elections.

While Martelly’s case was unique, the idea of forcing an elected president from power is one of our favorite and ill-advised moves. It’s a short-term high, but long-term low. Still, I think Moise is clearly out of his league. He has no political base, no political experience and his entrepreneurial acumen is manufactured at best.

Most people who know him or work with him, find him arrogant and unwilling to take advice. This is not going to end well for anybody. The problem is not simply Moise, every sector is responsible for the mess that Haiti perpetually finds itself in. Most people have given up on democracy and don’t bother to vote. For instance, about 20 percent of registered voters bothered to cast a ballot during Moise election in November 2016.

That is hardly a mandate, but adjudicating our civic responsibility and then protesting violently to remove a president from office doesn’t bode well for any country that fancies itself a democracy.

The opposition parties exists only in name and they are plentiful. But we don’t hear much about their plans and their vision for the country, even during elections. The attitude is “give me the power and I will show you.” That is warped logic and it has gotten us anything but warped reality.

Unfortunately, there is a severe lack of leadership on all level in and outside of Haiti and for that am pessimistic. Solutions being brokered in foreign capitals are for the benefit of these countries, not Haiti.

What the country needs now is a renewed faith in democracy and find ways to hold leaders accountable without destroying lives and property. Real leaders should emerge and campaign rigorously and answer questions about their platform and ideas for developing the country.

On election day, lines of voters should snake across polling stations as millions turn out to elect a leader that they feel best represent their interests and those of their children. If that person is unable to fulfill his or her promise, then choose another party or candidate in the next election.

For better or for worse that’s how democracy works and unless we want to change that system, we have to follow its tenet. If we don’t we will show the world that we are a nation that can’t be governed and that’s not the route we want to take.

Garry Pierre-Pierre

Garry Pierre-Pierre is a Pulitzer-prize winning, multimedia and entrepreneurial journalist. In 1999, he left the New York Times to launch the Haitian Times, a New York-based English-language publication serving the Haitian Diaspora. He is also the co-founder of the City University Graduate School of Journalism‘s Center for Community and Ethnic Media and a senior producer at CUNY TV.

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