Pere Gerard Jean-Juste, Liberation Theologian And Supporter Of Fanmi Lavalas
Haiti's own version of Martin Luther King Jr., rector, catholic priest and liberation theologian Pere Gérard Jean-Juste, left an indelible mark after his passing in May of 2009. The twice arrested Lavalas party supporter was not afraid to speak his mind about all aspects of life in Haiti, including those topics bound to stir up heated debates and even more serious trouble.
Hailing from Cavaillon, Pere Gérard was born on the 7th of February, 1946 and studied at a seminary in Canada before being the first ordained Haitian. His subsequent service in a parish church established his future dedication to assisting those in need.
Politics came knocking in 1971 when the Duvalier government requested that Pere Gérard sign an oath of loyalty to them. Like many others of high position faced with brick-wall politics and the accompanying danger, Pere Gérard left for the United States. He spent his time away wisely and earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering and engineering technology from Northeastern.
He established the Haitian Refugee Center in Miami and spent over a decade at its helm stirring up the kind of activist trouble that saw him punished by his church and cemented people's perception of him as a Martin Luther King Jr. contemporary. When he finally returned to Haiti, he was in support of controversial president, Aristide, perhaps owing to the fact that Aristide was the country's first democratically selected president. His support would cause him to go into hiding after Aristide was deposed, but Pere Gérard would surface again and resume his work in service of Haiti and its poor.
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