The following op-ed by first-year FIU Law student Frandley Julien, The high cost of staying out of politics in Haiti, originally appeared in The Miami Herald on November 2, 2012. Frandley Julien was coordinator of the Initiative Citoyenne, a civic group in Cap-Haitien, Haiti in 2001-04.
Haiti has never been a better illustration than now of Edmund Burke’s quote that “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” Traditionally, a huge portion of the country’s population has always prided itself in belonging to the “silent majority,” leaving the political scene to vagabonds and the bravest of serious souls. An understandable — albeit, not excusable — reason is the fact that Haiti’s successive dictatorial regimes, particularly the Duvaliers, have raised the killing of political opponents to the level of a national sport. Being in the silent majority was a manifestation of our survival instinct at its best.
However, well-educated citizens of good will should have known that their choice to generally refrain from participating in the political process would lead the country exactly where it is now, with successive incompetent governments and the exponential deterioration of the population’s living conditions. Moreover, the premise that abstention from politics would guarantee longevity could not be farther from the truth today. Quiet, law-abiding citizens are killed, kidnapped, raped on a daily basis in today’s Port-au-Prince; everybody is at the mercy of the all-powerful gangs.
During the past couple of months, there have been more and more protests against President Martelly’s stewardship of the country. Instead of listening to the population’s grievances expressed through numerous street demonstrations, the president, upon returning from the United Nations, countered with a march of his own, leading a crowd of his partisans and state employees through the nine miles separating the international airport from the National Palace.