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Remembering Father Gerard Jean-Juste

The Miami Herald reports that Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste has passed away. Details forthcoming.

Fr. Jean-Juste was a tireless advocate for human rights for Haitian people. I remember because my mother and I frequently participated in protest marches he lead back in the 70's.

Fr. Jean-Juste had energy and passion like I've never seen before. I can't tell you I understood everything that was going on in Haiti back then but I do remember people were dying in the ocean trying to get to the United States and they were being sent back to the island. That was more than 30 years ago. Little has changed as far as this country's disparate treatment of Haitian immigrants.

One of my most vivid memories is standing in front of the Historic Mt. Zion Church in Overtown and watching the funeral procession for little Haitian children who had drowned at sea. Rev. Winston Rudolph was the pastor of the church at the time and active in civil rights issues in the community. The Rev. Jesse Jackson was there with Fr. Jean-Juste and other dignitaries yet my heart was breaking at the sight of such small coffins. It just wasn't right. It's still not right.

I also remember Fr. Jean-Juste leading the chant "Human rights for Haitians! Human rights for Haitians!" More than thirty years later and Haitian immigrants are still being turned away? In spite of the devastation to their island we're sending them back to starvation, sickness and death.

I'm not Haitian but I am human. In the name of Jesus Christ and in memory of Fr. Jean-Juste and all of the people who lost their lives fleeing to this country for freedom and justice --- enough is enough. It's time for our government to grant temporary protective status to Haitian immigrants. A feel good trip by President Bill Clinton is not enough. It's time for this country to do the right thing. Human rights for Haitians!

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T


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U.N. denials in Haiti

by Kevin Pina

Haitian priest Father Gerard Jean-Juste, a symbol of strength, courage and leadership to a great many, was to be laid to rest by his family, friends and supporters on June 18. Few expected the solemn occasion would be transformed into confusion and terror as U.N. forces opened fire towards Haiti’s national cathedral following the arrest of one of the mourners. A victim of a single gunshot wound to the head would be discovered moments later. Witnesses say his body writhed and convulsed struggling with the inevitable as blood slowly formed a crimson background around his head.

Jean-Juste would probably not be surprised by the shooting given that he was a leader of Lavalas and this was after all a Lavalas funeral. He would most likely recall many other instances of human rights abuses committed against Lavalas where the U.N. was complicit or directly involved. He would often criticize the U.N. mission in Haiti for killing unarmed civilians in Cite Soleil and for training the Haitian police as they regularly shot up peaceful demonstrations, performed summary executions and falsely arrested Lavalas supporters following the ouster of Aristide in Feb. 2004. Jean-Juste more than most, would understand that this incident is but one more in a long list of violent offenses committed against the movement of the majority of the poor in Haiti as part of the U.N.’s current experiment in political landscaping.


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