Friday, February 10, 2006

Father Jean-Juste Released! Preval Cruising to Haitian Presidency!

Finally, some good news coming out of Haiti. First of all, and I am late in posting this, on Sunday, January 29, the Haitian government put Father Gerard Jean-Juste, accompanied by his American attorney, Bill quickly, on the 11:45 American Airlines flight to Miami! This liberating event occurred after a farcical series of events.

On Saturday, UN troops and Haitian police escorted Father to Canape Vert hospital in PAP. This is the best hospital in Haiti, but still very poor by American standards. We spent an agonizing night there in 2004; the only ventilator in the hospital didn't work. Anyway, Father was taken to Canape Vert because the Haitian government had arranged for two Haitian oncologists to examine him.

This, of course, was weeks after the Haitian government reported that their doctors said Father didn't have cancer, a diagnosis that was hard to defend after Dr. Paul Farmer took some blood from Father to Miami and had it tested, where it showed Father had leukemia. Well, true to Haitian form, the oncologists didn't show up! Maybe they didn't want to get involved in a political case. Maybe they were the ones who said he didn't have cancer. Who knows? Father waited there awhile and said his rosary. When the doctors didn't show, the authorities returned Father to jail and then the next day he was on the plane. Hip! Hip! Hooray! We found out when John called the third American doctor who examined Father a few days prior to his release and found his condition to be deteriorating significantly. She confirmed that he was on the plane.

Father received treatment for pneumonia and leukemia at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. and is now out of the hospital. The Haitian goverment is stating that this is a conditional release and that after Father completes treatment he will have to return to Haiti to "face justice." To face injustice, is more like it, seeing how Father was imprisoned for six months with no credible charges brought against him.

The good news about that scenario is that by the time Father is ready to return to Haiti, a new government will be installed. On Tuesday, February 7, Haiti held elections. As I write this, the vote is still being tallied, but what is known for sure is that the heavy front runner, Rene Preval, is the winner. What's more, he may have garnered more than 50 percent of the vote, which would make him the outright winner of the presidency, avoiding a need for a runoff election in March. I think Preval can be a good bridge between the few but powerful rich and the numerous suffering poor, who often seem to be at odds, with the former having the control and the latter the moral claim for change.

The other good news about the elections, is despite all the difficulties of voting--violence, not enough polling stations, long lines and waits, etc.-- it seems as if the turn out was heavy, which speaks to the Haitian people's desire for democracy.

Father Gerard Jean-Juste may not have had political freedom in Haiti, but we are glad he is receiving the medical care he needs. And after he got out of the Miami hospital, he spoke at a press conference wearing a Rene Preval t-shirt.

Long live Preval! Long live Haiti!

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