[Marxism] Gerard Jean-Juste freed from jail in Haiti
wsh291 at bellsouth.net
Wed Dec 1 20:08:43 MST 2004
In an earlier post to Marxmail (which I deleted) Jack Lieberman
requested support in an effort to free Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste from jail
in Haiti. Jean-Juste had been an activist in the Haitian community in
Miami before returning to Haiti. This Miami Herald article reports on
his release from jail.
Posted on Wed, Dec. 01, 2004
Joyful Jean-Juste: 'God has listened'
BY JACQUELINE CHARLES
jcharles at herald.com
PORT-AU-PRINCE - A day after his release from seven weeks in prison,
former Miami activist Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste is singing the praises of
freedom. And so are his parishioners at St. Claire Roman Catholic Church
in the Haitian capital.
''Prayer rises, grace descends,'' a smiling Jean-Juste told The Herald
during a chat in his church office, a pink rosary around his neck. ``God
Jailed 50 days ago on suspicion of fomenting violent protests in support
of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Jean-Juste was released late
Monday after a judge found no evidence to hold him.
He arrived home late Monday to a hero's welcome and a new fight:
championing the rights of Haiti's political prisoners.
''I am happy for this vacation in jail,'' said the long-time Aristide
supporter and former activist in Miami's Haitian communities. ``It's
another life I didn't know.''
That life involved being forced to wear the same shirt he was arrested
in for 48 days straight, and being shuffled to five different jails
around Port-au-Prince as supporters and human rights activists decried
20 IN A CELL
He shared his first jail cell with 20 prisoners -- no toilet, no water.
The last one he shared with Harold Severe, the pro-Aristide former
assistant mayor of Port-au-Prince. His neighbors there included
Louis-Jodel Chamblain, an accused murderer and one of the leaders of the
armed rebellion that ousted Aristide on Feb. 29.
''We talked, we prayed. We used the same bucket to bathe,'' Jean-Juste
said of his fellow prisoners, adding that despite their differing
political ideologies there was a meeting of minds.
About 90 people have been killed in Haiti since September amid protests
by armed Aristide loyalists demanding his return and attacks by
A Roman Catholic priest, Jean-Juste said he believes his arrest was
God's way of using him to continue the fight on behalf of the Haitian
people. His tenure behind bars, he said, only motivated him to continue
demanding that basic human rights in Haiti be respected.
''Whoever violates [them] should expect to hear from me,'' he said,
dressed in a beige guayabera, sweat dripping from his forehead. ``I know
what is jail now. The next thing I have is death.''
In Miami, Jean Lafortune, president of the Haitian-American Grassroots
Coalition, said he was happy about Jean-Juste's release but concerned
about his safety.
''It's a big relief for the the Haitian community in South Florida,'' he
said. ``The concern now is what happens next? . . . The atmosphere in
the country is still unstable politically, so one must wonder if it is
safe for him to stay in Haiti or leave.''
Miami-based activist Lucie Tondreau, who last year co-hosted a radio
program in Haiti with Jean-Juste, said she felt ''elated'' over his release.
''They had nothing against him except that he was feeding the poor
children at the parish,'' she said.
Also rejoicing were his parishioners in the Cazeau neighborhood of the
On Monday evening and Tuesday morning, hundreds took to the streets to
celebrate his return. His first act after getting out of the car Monday
night: performing an impromptu Mass at St. Claire.
Tuesday evening, parishioners packed the pews once again to hear
Jean-Juste speak. Afterward they danced in the aisle and embraced him to
the sound of beating drums.
''We are still celebrating our victory,'' said 21-year-old Wadner
Pierre, who videotaped the homecoming.
And while Jean-Juste said he has forgiven his accusers, he didn't mince
words in his criticism of the U.S.-backed interim government that
replaced Aristide and has now allegedly thrown scores of his loyalists
Instead of rallying the Haitian people to new elections upon their
arrival in office, the interim government divided the society,
''Aristide is still the president of Haiti until February 7, 2006. He is
my president,'' Jean-Juste added. ``He was kidnapped on February 29,
2004, and he's been replaced by an illegal, unconstitutional de facto
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell will visit Haiti today to reaffirm
U.S. support for a democratic transition and review American efforts to
help the country recover from catastrophic floods earlier this year.
About 5,700 U.N. peacekeepers are in the country to help provide
security. But challenges remain, as violence between Aristide supporters
and police has sporadically flared.
Herald staff writer Karl Ross contributed to this report from Miami.
No virus found in this outgoing message.
Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
Version: 7.0.289 / Virus Database: 265.4.3 - Release Date: 11/26/2004
More information about the Marxism