Sunday July 8th 2018 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Riots have been happening all weekend and many of us spent our Friday evening sleeping at work because there was no way of getting home safely. Rocks are being thrown, businesses raided, cars burnt, tires and rocks barricading the streets. A total mess.
Finally home and thinking about the situation ,amidst gunshots just across the street. The alleged reason for the riots, is a recent increase in gas prices by over 40% which impacts food and transportation costs significantly, since we import a majority of what we consume. The local government subsidizes fuel, and this is the end of the subsidy.
But it’s strange because within 30 minutes of the announcement, the entire city was blocked. This was well organized. Of course, the population was not thrilled about the price increase, but the reaction was too sudden and too structured. This is not really about gas, but is rather a political issue.
Sure enough, after the President released a message last night, to reinstate the former gas prices, the protesters changed their objective to demand that the President leave office. Ding ding ding!
Riots are not new to Haiti , but this time the younger generation is in the majority. When you speak to Haitians between the ages of 18-35, we are upset to see our country in such a state. What’s more is that with the help of the internet, we see people like us, living decent lives in the US, Europe, or Latin America. It’s no wonder, that many of us flee to Chile, Brazil, Miami, you name it.
We want a better life. Who wouldn’t? But we are not asking for much, we only want the opportunity to learn, to work, to eat, to prosper, to love, to be happy. We aren’t even asking for a giveaway because the minute we go abroad, we aren’t afraid to be masons, cleaners, factory workers, and other manual and unsexy jobs.
We just want the chance to live.
It’s time for us to make a change. Young and old, rich and poor, men and women, we must as a people finally say no. Let us not sit home whispering our disagreement with the situation, but be bold enough to no longer accept that politics destroy our country, while falsely claiming that it is done in the name of the people. It doesn’t matter which party you favor, or if you are not political at all.
We are Haiti, and it’s up to us to fix it.
Even if we cannot economically handle price increases, what benefit is there in not being able to go to work, or in stores closing down due to vandalism resulting into further unemployment? What good is there in people being stopped in the street and being mugged while trying to go home? The people did not ask for this.
Violence is never the answer.
We have to make our country progress and not rely on government.
We, the people of Haiti, are the only ones who will save Haiti. There will be no messiah.
Let us not rely on politicians. We cannot hope for one person to make the change for us, we must do it on our own. It starts by caring about the welfare of the community rather than our own.
We have to learn to give a shit about our country. That’s the clear mindset difference between ourselves and many other nations. We don’t love our nation.
There is no perfect nation and we are not inferior. We just do not love ourselves and our country enough. We put ourselves down, and don’t mind hurting each other for personal gain and that is not loving your country.
I am saddened, ashamed, and exhausted of the situation in Haiti this weekend. I can also see the situation from different perspectives: the protestors paid by the opposition because they desperately need the money, the uninvolved yet silent citizens who hide at home for safety reasons, the politicians in power worried of the situation they have created due to poor planning, the opposition proud of their chaos in hopes of gaining power of their own, and the international community watching the barbaric scene on television.
I choose no side. I choose Haiti’s side.
What now? Now is the time to work on a mindset change. Now is the time to develop a change management program to get every Haitian to understand, that changing himself or herself, is the only way forward. Let us stop hoping for miracles that will not come true. Let us stop looking at each other for change.
We are each responsible. Let us be that change.