Jean-Juste passed away last week at the age of 62 after decades of acting as “the spokesperson” for South Florida’s growing Haitian community. He was a strong advocate for immigrant rights ever since he founded the Haitian Refugee Center in Miami. He was also vocal in seeking justice in his homeland after he returned to Haiti in the 1990s to protest the coup against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. His outspokenness would land him in jail in 2005 though he was soon allowed to return to the U.S. due to health problems.
The struggle for just and fair immigration continues to this day for those Haitians seeking a better life in the U.S. Nevertheless, Jean-Juste was instrumental in organizing and leading Haitian refugees:
''It's not a question of which man is going to replace Jean-Juste; he played his role,'' said Bishop Thomas Wenski, who served as pastor at Notre Dame d'Haiti Catholic Church in Miami from 1984 to 1997. ``You have a community that is very diverse and is showing success in different areas, in business and also politics and civic life. Jean-Juste played a role for the time that he was in Miami: He laid a foundation''…Image- South Florida Sun-Sentinel (The late Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste was jailed in Haiti on allegedly politically motivated charges).
‘‘He was perhaps one of the original of what they would call the sidewalk diplomats," said Wenski, now head of the nine-county Orlando Diocese. "He was a community organizer and a community agitator, in the best sense of the word."
Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, CBS4.com, Miami Herald, Miami New Times