and white bougainvillea flowers and guards with jeep-mounted machine guns
surround the high walled prison in Port au Prince.
The first thing I noticed
about Haitian political prisoner
Pere Jean-Juste was his neck. It is very swollen on both sides. A pink
rosary peeks out from the white bandana around his throat. He admits he is
in pain, but shakes off questions about it. Someone from the U.S. embassy
suggested the authorities could take him to another place so a doctor can
do a biopsy or an operation. He refused for security reasons. "No doctor
from this government is going to cut on my neck," he said.
"My medical condition is serious. I must be released so I can go to the US
He broke into smiles as we emptied a bag of mail for him. AIUSA organized
a campaign to have people send him holiday cards and he was amazed at the
response. There are already over 700 cards in from all over the US and the
world with more coming in every day. "Oh my God, this is great," he kept
saying as he looked at the cards one by one. Fr. Gerry stood on a folding
chair and screwed a light bulb into the ceiling so he could read the
Pere Jean-Juste became serious again as we talked about his time in
prison. "Everyone knows I am innocent. There are not even any charges. The
judge has concluded his investigation weeks ago. Half the Supreme Court
Justices have just been fired. I am no longer willing to be their
scapegoat. Stop the games. It is time for unconditional release."
"It is not time to be quiet. It is time to push harder. I salute those who
have put pressure on in Congress, in Miami, in Boston, in California, and
As the guards told us our time was up, Pere Jean-Juste gathered us
together. As we held hands in the prison he led us in prayer. He ended
with "The holiday season is not just the time to talk about peace, the
holiday season is the time to DO the work of peace." Amen.
Quigley is a
professor at Loyola University New Orleans School of Law and can be
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