Fr. Jean Juste

As hard as I tried, I never managed to meet Fr. Jean Juste. I was in Haiti when he was a political prisoner of the coup government/UN regime. At that time, he was also a presidential candidate – the movement put him up while he was in jail. It was a good move, a tactic movements use with imprisoned leaders, to raise visibility and provide some protection. Even when the regime uses procedural tricks to prevent it from happening, as they did with Jean Juste. When I was there, Jean Juste was a contender and was actually the favourite, although his health problems were already known. He was accused of having weapons in his church, a story no one took seriously (His reply: “My rosary is my only weapon”).

In the event, he was allowed to leave prison for medical treatment in Miami, and continued to fight the charges against him from the US and from Haiti, where he returned. The charges were dropped, but not until years later (in 2008).

Despite all their efforts, Jean Juste outlived the coup government. He’ll be remembered as someone who stood strong, fighting cancer from prison because he wouldn’t give up his principles or his people. Haiti’s lost a champion, but not before giving to the world an example of courage, one of many Haiti’s given over the years.

Justin Podur

Author: Justin Podur

Author of Siegebreakers. Ecology. Environmental Science. Political Science. Anti-imperialism. Political fiction. Teach at York U's FES. Author. Writer at ZNet, TeleSUR, AlterNet, Ricochet, and the Independent Media Institute.