by Professor Bell Angelot
May 27, 2009
"Like Jeremiah the prophet, he knew the inside of a prison. Like Martin Luther King, Jr. he preached love. Like Mahatma Gandhi he lived non-violence and overcame violence. Just as Moses never reached the Promised Land, he too, did not see the day of the complete liberation of the Haitian people."
Father Jean Juste was always coupled to what’s just and morally right.
A powerful spirit has left this earth, and our mourning darkens the whole city. A griot left for eternity and the whole tribe is in tears. But though the prophet is gone, his light remains. The Haitian community of Miami has just rung the toll to announce in pain, and in a flood of tears the departure from this planet of Reverend Father Gérard Jean-Juste. Father Jean-Juste was one of the pioneers of Liberation Theology alongside Jean Bertrand Aristide of Haiti, Leonardo Boff of Nicaragua and Oscar Romero of Salvador.
Father Jean Juste was the spoke-person of the poor, the homeless, and for all who thirst for justice. Father Jean Juste was a megaphone for the victims of exclusion, those hungry for love, those suffering from the selfishness of others and inequalities of all sorts. Father Jean Juste was the flag bearer for Haitian immigrant rights, for those without papers, for those who braved the shark-infested seas and for whom Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is still denied. Father Jean Juste was a man of justice, his very name called forth what’s just.
One can well compare the struggle of Father Jean Juste to that of the biblical Moses who delivered his people from the persecution of slavery. ("Let my people go!" Moses said to the Pharaoh of his time). This cry of Moses came often of the lips of Father Jean Juste, the Prophet from Petite Place Cazeau, Haiti: “I have certainly seen the affliction of my people, I have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows.” (Exodus 3:7).
Father Jean Juste was a martyr. While distributing food to hungry children, he was arrested and tortured by the political dictators in 2005. Some months later, even in the deepest bowels of a church, The Sacred Heart Church of Turgeau, the very same church where Izmery was assassinated, draped in his priest cassock, Father Jean Juste was brutally beaten almost to unconsciousness, manhandled and humiliated, afterwards waking up in prison.
Like Jeremiah the prophet, he knew the inside of a prison. Like Martin Luther King, Jr. he preached love. Like Mahatma Gandhi he lived non-violence and overcame violence. Just as Moses never reached the Promised Land, he too, did not see the day of the complete liberation of the Haitian people. The passing of Father Jean Juste brings us tears, this is a painful severance for us. Of course, the lost of Father Jean Juste brings us grief, but we believe that Father Jean Juste lives on.
Again in the years to come, we shall hear, all across Little Haiti in Miami, the echo of his voice denouncing discriminatory immigration laws. Through time, his voice shall still wholly resound on Haiti, saying no to violence, no to exile, no to arbitrary arrests, indefinite detentions, no to Coup D’etats. Jean Juste lives on and it is now that his butchers will tremble. For without confessing their wrongs and without altering their ways they allowed their victim to die, a man whose heart was filled only with compassion and tolerance.
Father Jean Juste left us on an assignment to meet up with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to whom he shall say that love amongst the races and race equality is still a dream; to meet up with John Fitzgerald Kennedy to whom he will say that Democracy and Peace are still the big challenges of our peoples; to meet up with Father Jean Marie Vincent, to whom he shall say that the movement to bring literacy to our people has fallen by the waste side; to meet up with (Haiti’s founding father) Jean Jacques Dessalines to tell him that our country has been sold, it’s been torn apart, its been bloodied - peyi a vann, peyi a fann, peyi a tonbe nan sann - and we’ve been divided. He is not dead/He lives on! His body succumbed to the vicissitudes: to pains that even defied science, to evil his heart and his brain could no longer bring order to, to political shocks that his conviction and his morale could no longer endure.
In the name of the larger Lavalas Movement, we bid farewell to Father Gerard Jean Juste and wish him a good journey. In the name of all the cadres, the grassroots/popular organizations, in the name of the Lavalas vision of inclusion, we say thank you Father Jean Juste. Thank you very much brother/compatriot, we shall continue to be the Sentinels – (to watch out - veye yo - look out for the enemy).
The Haitian Center of Research and Social Science Investigations, bows in great reverence, before the remains of the greatest tree (Mapou) to be cut down in the forest of the just. May your demonstrations of faith, lessons in courage, messages of patriotism, forever be the oil that lights our lamps to bring the light in the darkness of realms, serve us all as the chorus of hope, songs of resistances, hymn of love and friendship. For, as the (Haitian author, Jacques) Roumain said in his book, Governors of the Dew - "The fruit that rots nourishes the hope of the new tree."
Professeur Bell Angelot
Directeur du Centre Haïtien
De Recherches et d'Investigations
En Sciences Sociales
Translated into English by Ezili Danto
YON SÈL NOU FÈB, ANSANM NOU FÒ, ANSANM, ANSANM NOU SE LAVALAS.
"Alone we are weak, together we're strong, together, together we are Lavalas (the flood)"
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