It is time that the opposition understands that democracy is not to paralyze a country because you failed to win an election. Jovenel was elected with less than 10 percent of eligible voters. The opposition’s candidates were inept, inexperienced and mustered a weak fight during the campaign two years ago.

By Garry Pierre-Pierre

The other day, I tried to book a direct flight from New York to Port-au-Prince on Delta Airlines. To my surprise there were no direct flight available, especially since just a few months ago in December, Delta had launched a weekly direct one.

I contacted a friend in Haiti who works for the airline  to inquire about the situation and he texted back.

“Unfortunately yes… Level 4 travel warning is killing the business.” He added “… all these corrupt politicians putting us in this situation. It’s sad Garry.”

Level 4 travel warnings, in security parlance means,  DO NOT TRAVEL.

Delta is not alone in its decision. JetBlue has reduced the number of  flights to Haiti from New York’s John F. Kennedy airport. Late last year,  American Airlines discontinued its direct JFK/Haiti route after more than 40 years. Recently, low-budget Spirit Airlines cancelled its Fort Lauderdale to Cap Haitien route. The travel site, Expedia, has removed Haiti destinations from its menu.

These are debilitating steps that can be detrimental to a country’s economy.

So while Haitian officials have been telling anyone who would listen that Haiti is open for business, the reality is the opposite. Here is a list of the countries in our company.

Afghanistan
Central African Republic
Haiti
Iran
Iraq
Libya
Mali
North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea)
Somalia
South Sudan
Syria
Venezuela
Yemen

Keep in mind that many of these countries have been embroiled in civil wars or serious social unrests, as in the case of Venezuela. While many Haitians in the Diaspora and Haiti have cast the blame on the international community, they’re seeing one side of this coin. As my friend said, Haitian internal politics are at the root of this intractable situation that the country is facing.

Jet Blue Airbus A320NEO neo

The airlines are in the business of making money but their first priority is the safety of their crew and equipment.

Haiti’s unrests have been percolating for a while. It started out benevolently with a group of young people asking for explanation of what happened to hundreds of millions of dollars unaccounted from the PetroCaribe oil deal that Haiti signed with Venezuela. The campaign began on social media and took off from there.

Unfortunately that movement was co-opted by politicians who inserted partisan politics into it and morphed a legitimate demand, into a call for the departure of President Jovenel Moise. Last month, the country was “locked down,” for 10 days where people could not leave their homes out of fear for their safety. Foreigners were attacked from the airport while others were stranded into their hotel.

The social unrests went from bad to worse. While the protests have subsided a bit, a tense calm grips the country daily and the economic wounds continue to metastasize like a cancer.

Despite it all, there are little steps being taken to cure or alleviate some of the social ills underpinning these unrests. It seems that every day one sector after another is calling for dialogue to end the crisis. Talk is cheap and it is time for action.

It is time that the opposition understands that democracy is not to paralyze a country because you failed to win an election. Jovenel was elected with less than 10 percent of eligible voters. The opposition’s candidates were inept, inexperienced and mustered a weak fight during the campaign two years ago.

Having lost, they try to find a way, unsuccessfully to replace the elected president, through non-democratic means. They coopted the PetroCaribe movement to settle their scores and steal the presidency. This playbook is old and worn out and don’t bring anything but chaos to a fragile country that appears to be reeling socially and economically.

Opposition leaders who are demanding for the departure of Moise under the guise that he is responsible for the missing funds are at best, intellectually dishonest and at worst, complicit in the crime they are asking about.

They know all too well that Moise has not been in office long enough to be personally responsible for the missing money. They know that most of the questionable financial transactions occurred during the administration of Michel Martelly. In their attempt to be clever, they target Moise because of his ties to Martelly. But just because a person commits a crime doesn’t mean that his associates are guilty as well, no matter their alliances.

They are afraid of going after Martelly for reasons unknown to me. So they’ve taken the ruinous route of destabilizing the country and of course put the blame conveniently on everyone else but themselves.

What they should be doing is to provide the population with tangible options. They should be ubiquitous on the airwaves and on social media presenting plans and policies to move the country forward.

They need to restore the Haitian people thirst for democracy. Unfortunately,  many of them and the system that they’ve developed are corrupted and it is set up to enrich themselves and their private sector allies at the expense of everyone else. Haiti’s democratic experiment needs a reset. Who is ready to push that button?

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.

More by Garry Pierre-Pierre

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