Father Gerry Jean-Juste, a Haitian priest, was a friend of Maria's and mine.
We went to Mass at his church--St. Clare's in Ti Kazo.
Father fed many kids in St. Clare's neighborhood and during his homilies he begged for St. Jude's intercession for long-suffering Haiti.
He was a totally courageous man and was thrown in jail in Haiti on trumped up charges.
Maria and I visited him in prison in Port-au-Prince in December, 2005. Father was a sick man and his labs looked too good--like they were fabricated--when I reviewed them. He told us that his Haitian doctor told him there was nothing wrong with him.
For those who follow Haitian politics, the rest of the Father Gerry story is known except....WikiLeaks now reveals how the Haitian Interim Government and the US Embassy were very involved with the fate of Father Gerry.
date: 1/27/2006 15:53
origin: Embassy Port Of Spain
DE RUEHSP #0137/01 0271553
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 271553Z JAN 06
FM AMEMBASSY PORT OF SPAIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6340
INFO RUCNCOM/EC CARICOM COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
----------------- header ends ----------------
C O N F I D E N T I A L PORT OF SPAIN 000137
DEPT FOR WHA/CAR
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/27/2016
TAGS: PREL, KDEM, HA, TD
SUBJECT: T&T PM MANNING SUPPORTIVE OF HAITI IN CARICOM;
HAITIAN PM PRESSING FOR JEAN-JUSTE RESOLUTION
REF: PORT AU PRINCE 00185
Classified By: DCM, Eugene P. Sweeney for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
1. (C) SUMMARY: Ambassador Austin met Interim Haitian Prime
Minister Latortue and informed him of the desirability of
immediately releasing Father Jean-Juste from prison.
Ambassador also asked about the outcome of Latortue's meeting
with Prime Minister Manning. Latortue stated that he would
call Port au Prince immediately upon arrival in Miami to seek
immediate resolution of the Jean-Juste case. Latortue also
reported that Manning was supportive of Haiti and wants to
help, but Manning's hands are tied by CARICOM recalcitrance.
Latortue floated the idea of stationing a U.S. naval vessel
near Haiti in the run up to the election to provide a
psychological counterweight to the drug and arms runners who
are likely to intimidate the population away from the ballot
box on February 7. END SUMMARY.
2. (SBU) Ambassador Austin met with Interim Haitian Prime
Minister Gerard Latortue (with Poloff as note taker) on
January 26 and urged him to seek immediate release of Father Jean-Juste's release in light of his rapidly deteriorating
medical condition. Ambassador also sought to determine the
outcome of Latortue's meeting with Trinidad's Prime Minister
Manning. Latortue responded that he would call Port au
Prince immediately upon arrival in Miami (his next
destination) to urge Jean-Juste's immediate release, but
noted that the case was now in the Judiciary, where he had no
control over it. Latortue also reported that his meeting
with PM Manning was productive, with Manning expressing
support to bring Haiti back into the CARICOM fold. Latortue
made no mention of CARICOM election observers, but did report
that CARICOM Foreign Ministers might make a trip to Haiti on
February 1, after their January 30-31 meeting in Jamaica.
3. (C) On the Jean-Juste case, Latortue reiterated the
information contained reftel, that the Judiciary was ready to
bring Jean-Juste to trial and to conclude the trial within a
day. If found guilty and sentenced to the minimum six
months, Jean-Juste has already served the time. If sentenced
to longer, the government has amnesty papers ready to ensure
that Jean-Juste receives medical treatment immediately in the
United States. Latortue expressed his frustration with
Jean-Juste and his lawyers, calling them political activists
who are doing all within their power to embarrass the interim
government. He claims that they are dealing in bad faith,
and that Jean-Juste would prefer to die in prison rather than
give the government the chance to do the right thing. "We
fight to do the right thing," said Latortue, "but we're made
to look like the devil."
4. (C) Latortue stated that his meeting with PM Manning was
a success, with Manning expressing strong support to bring
Haiti back into the CARICOM fold. Latortue also stated that
he will invite a CARICOM delegation to visit Haiti in the
near future to set the stage for Haiti to rejoin CARICOM as
early as July. He mentioned the upcoming CARICOM Foreign
Ministers' meeting in Jamaica, and said that there is a
possibility for the ministers to travel immediately from
Kingston to Port au Prince to see for themselves Haiti's
progress. Manning himself is committed to helping Haiti, but
has difficulty mobilizing CARICOM due to the opposition of
St. Lucia and St. Vincent.
5. (C) Manning and Latortue also discussed the possibility
of bringing T&T private investment to Haiti. Specifically,
they discussed involvement in the cement sector. T&T has
already expressed interest in this sector, but lost a bid
previously because their company would not pay bribes.
Latortue reaffirmed that the only way to improve the quality
of life in Haiti was through private sector involvement; an
area that he intends to remain active in after the permanent,
elected government is sworn in.
6. (C) Turning to what the U.S. could do to help, Latortue
reiterated his idea for "psychological support" in the form
of a naval vessel to be stationed near Haiti in the days
before the election, with helicopters flying overhead to emphasize U.S. support (reftel). Latortue believes this is
necessary because the drug and weapons runners have the
population running scared; a U.S. presence would serve to
reassure the population and encourage them to vote on
February 7. Ambassador likened Latortue's recommendation to
the British colonial strategy of having naval vessels cruise
within sight of citizens of countries that may have been
contemplating insurrection. He advised that while the
strategy may be effective, it may also backfire because some
observers may interpret it as U.S. interference intended to
influence the outcome of the election.