Twice a victim: first in Haiti, then in the U.S.

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Twice a victim: first in Haiti, then in the U.S.

Post by » Mon Nov 15, 2004 9:15 pm

Twice a victim: first in Haiti, then in the U.S.

The gun battle started around 5 a.m. with Haitian police and U.N. troops entering the slum neighborhood of Bel Air, a stronghold for those still loyal to former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Using bulldozers, the police broke through barricades of burned-out cars.

But unlike previous raids into Bel Air that lasted less than an hour, this one, on Sunday, Oct. 24, would persist for the better part of the day.

Soon after the fighting started, Joseph Dantica, 81, took refuge with a handful of people inside the Church of the Redeemer. Dantica had founded the Baptist church more than 25 years ago and was its senior pastor. He had spent the better part of his life in Bel Air, and although his family had begged him to move somewhere safer, he always refused.

'He was a very good man and extremely loyal to the neighborhood where he lived,'' said his niece, acclaimed Haitian author Edwidge Danticat. ``Even when things got very rough and difficult in Bel Air, he stayed. He stayed through all the different regimes, serving the people of his neighborhood. He was, in his own quiet way, trying to make a difference.''

By 9:30 a.m., police and U.N. troops using armored cars with mounted machine guns, approached Dantica's church. The police wanted to go inside. Dantica let them in.

They then took up combat positions on the upper floors of the church, as well as an adjoining school the church operates. The new vantage point allowed police to ambush a group of gang members in an alley below.

''A lot of them must have died,'' said Dantica's son, Maxo. ``The shooting went on for a long time.''

A government spokesman said one police officer died in the day's fighting and at least two ''bandits'' were killed. An unknown number of civil
ians were wounded.

By early afternoon, the police began to withdraw, calling the operation a success. A government spokesman told The Associated Press that Haitian police would establish a permanent presence in the area to protect residents.

Maxo didn't believe them. No sooner had the police left than he heard there was a group of gunmen looking for him and his father. ''I told my father we must go,'' he said. ``And my father said no. He would stay and talk to them. He knew many of them since they were little boys.''

The next day, gang leaders came knocking on Dantica's door. They were angry, accusing him of cooperating with the police and setting up the roof-top ambush. According to Maxo, the gang members claimed 15 people died in the alley and Dantica was going to have to pay for their funerals.

When the gang members left, Dantica knew he could no longer stay. For three days he hid in a neighbor's house. ''When the gangs couldn't find him,'' Maxo said, ``they went i
nto the church and took the altar out into the street and burned it.''

On Thursday, Oct. 28, friends smuggled Dantica out of Bel Air and the next day, Dantica and Maxo boarded a plane for Miami.

Although he provided immigration officials in Miami a passport with a valid visa, he told the immigration official that he wanted to seek asylum in the United States.

'The official told him, `Well, if that's the case, then you have to go into the system,' '' Maxo recalled. ''I begged them, `Please, do not hold my father, because he will not survive.' ''

Homeland Security officials sent Dantica to the Krome detention center along with Maxo.

''I couldn't imagine why they would put someone his age in prison,'' said Edwidge, who rushed to the airport hoping to retrieve Dantica. ``Especially since we were here ready to be responsible for him.''

According to Maxo, when Dantica arrived at Krome, his high-blood-pressure medication was taken away from him. Maxo and h
is father were placed in separate housing units.

Edwidge hired immigration attorney John Pratt, who tried Monday to convince immigration officers to release Dantica on humanitarian grounds. He did arrange for a ''credible fear interview'' Tuesday morning.

Sitting in the waiting room before Tuesday's hearing, Dantica, according to Pratt, said: ``They didn't give me my medicine.''

Before Pratt could find out more, they were called before the hearing officer. Five minutes into the hearing, Dantica leaned forward and threw up. ''All of a sudden he started vomiting,'' Pratt said. ``He had some kind of an attack. He fell back against the wall. He looked like he had passed out.''

A medic from the detention center was summonedbut suggested Dantica was faking his illness. ''He's not cooperating,'' the medic said, according to Pratt. After a few minutes, the medic agreed to take Dantica to the detention center clinic.

''The medic was very insensitive,'' Pratt sa
id. ``His whole attitude was wrong.''

Tuesday afternoon, Dantica was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital. Pratt was told Dantica would be held overnight for observation.

''I asked the officials at Krome, could a family member go and visit him in the hospital, and they said no, for security reasons,'' Pratt said. ``I kept trying to tell them that having family members around him would be reassuring for him, especially if his condition was serious. They kept saying no.''

On Wednesday, Pratt was told that Dantica would remain at the hospital for at least another day. Officials again refused to let the family visit Dantica.

At 11 p.m. Wednesday, Pratt was notified that Dantica had died. ``I don't know what he died of. But once they realized it was serious they should have let this man see his family.''

The Department of Homeland Security issued a statement saying Dantica ``died of pancreatitis while in Homeland Security custody, which an autopsy by the Miami-Dade Count
y medical examiner's office revealed as a preexisting and fatal condition.''

``It is unfortunate that Mr. Dantica died during the benefits application process, and we understand his family's grief, but there is no connection between the preexisting terminal medical condition he had and the process through which he entered the country.''

Homeland Security would not explain why Dantica was taken into custody if he had a valid visa, nor would the agency address claims that he had been deprived of his medication.

Maxo said he knew nothing of his father's illness. ''All I know is that he wasn't sick when we left Haiti,'' Maxo said.

Even in death Dantica is unable to return home.

Amid the escalating violence in Haiti, Maxo is afraid to take his father there for a funeral. Instead, Maxo plans to bury him on Saturday in New York, where they have relatives.

The final weeks of Dantica's life is the story of Haiti today, where good people find themselves vulnerable
and alone and easily forgotten.

''He was one of those people caught in the crossfire,'' Edwidge said of her uncle. ``And that's true for the majority of people in Haiti; they are now in the crossfire and they have nowhere to go.''

© 2004 and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

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Freedom seeker finds death in America

Post by admin » Tue Nov 16, 2004 8:32 pm

The Miami Herald
Posted on Tue, Nov. 16, 2004
Freedom seeker finds death in America


Joseph Dantica survived Haiti for more than eight decades, the last 25 years as a Baptist minister of a church in one of the roughest gang-infested slums of Port-au-Prince. But he didn't have a chance once he crossed paths with the Department of Homeland Security here in Miami. Though he arrived with a valid visa to enter the United States, DHS detained him at its Krome prison. He died five days later, still in DHS custody.

The Rev. Dantica's mistakes: being Haitian and being honest with DHS.

His problems began back home, when Haitian and U.N. security forces raided his neighborhood and used the upper floors of his church to ambush gang members in an alley below. The next day, gang lead
ers accused the Rev. Dantica of aiding the police, and he knew he was in danger. So he fled on a plane to Miami on Friday, Oct. 29.

Here, he told DHS immigration officials the truth: He was seeking asylum. He also had a valid U.S. visa. He could have said nothing, walked out of the airport free to file for asylum at a local DHS office. But immigration officials took it upon themselves to put an 81-year-old Haitian preacher in a Krome prison cell.

His family hired a lawyer, John Pratt, who quickly petitioned for the Rev. Dantica's humanitarian release. No, DHS said, the reverend has to pass an asylum interview first. Meanwhile, his medications had been taken away from him at Krome.

Four days after arrival, he and Mr. Pratt were beginning the asylum interview when the Rev. Dantica suddenly threw up. Mr. Pratt describes the medic called in as ''insensitive'' in suggesting that the reverend ''wasn't cooperating'' because his eyes were open.

Eventually, the Rev. Dantica was ta
ken to Jackson Memorial Hospital. Krome officials relented and told Mr. Pratt that the reverend would get a humanitarian release after getting out of JMH. Even so, DHS officials wouldn't allow his family to visit him at the hospital. What was the risk? That a sick old man would escape?

He never got out. The DHS statement: "Mr. Dantica died of pancreatis while in Homeland Security custody, which an autopsy by the Miami-Dade County medical examiner's office revealed as a preexisting and fatal condition.''

That doesn't explain why he was detained or treated inhumanely. ''He comes to this country to seek refuge and freedom at 81 and he dies in detention,'' said Mr. Pratt. "I hope it never happens again.''

Unfortunately, we've seen DHS repeatedly take inhumane action, particularly with Haitians. DHS singles out Haitian asylum seekers for mandatory detention and denial of release. We've also seen numerous complaints about medical care in DHS custody. The Justice Department should i
nvestigate this case and DHS's treatment of Haitians in general. DHS must be held accountable.

Letter to Edwidge Danticat

Post by » Tue Nov 16, 2004 8:40 pm

[quote]Dear Edwidge Dandicat:

I sincerely convey my sympathies to you and your family at this time of sadness. However, you must proudly remember that your Uncle has spent his life helping the poor people of Bel-Air. If these mistreatments at the Krome Center could have happened to an 81 year old by the name of Dandica, you can have an idea of what is happening to the other Haitian detainees.

I have read your books. I have seen you in the "Oprah Book Club". I have seen the Audience acclaiming you with respect. Edwidge, wipe your tears, and let the World know through your writings The Truth about Haiti and Haitian detainees at the Krome Center.

This situation has to come to an end so your Uncle will not have died in vain.

Yours sincerely,

Post by » Tue Nov 16, 2004 9:00 pm

[quote]The Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network extends its sympathies and condolences to Mr. Dandicat family and friends in the US and in Haiti.

The consequences of the Coup d'etat and U.S. racist and immoral immigration policy for Haitians are simply fiendish, cruel and barbarically callous and well told by the story of Joseph Danticat who was 81 years old when he died last week at Krome detention center.

All us Haitians, both in Haiti and to a lesser extent, in the Diaspora, are caught in the crossfire of this diabolical act of tyranny (the Bush's "regime change") denying Haitians the right to live, liberty, self-determination and even the simple right to travel outside of Haiti with a valid visa.

Mr. Dandicat's death and his families suffering and grief exemplifies our relentless sufferings, grief and losses as a people, as a nation, as sentient human beings. How Haiti
an life is not valued by the powers-that-be: for, Joseph Dantica is but another Haitian life loss. Another number in the more than 4,000 Haitians senselessly caught-up in the crossfires of this U.S/Canada/France orchestrated removal and destruction of Haiti's Constitutional government (in collaboration, that is, with the Haitian MREs, death squads mercenaries, ex-military and a few bitter ex-Lavalas opportunists).

But we know Mr. Dandicat was someone's uncle, father, brother, pastor, friend....... Like the mostly nameless and faceless 4,000 or so Haitians who have lost their lives since the 2004 Coup D'etat, Mr. Dandicat had dreams, a life work, purpose, family love. But that is simply denied by those who keep telling us to get over the Coup d'etat and move on and accept the illegitimate Latortue and his death squads and the morally repugnant elite's rule.

As Mr. Dandicat's famous niece, fame writer Edwidge Dandicat, remarked in the article below, the people of Haiti are caught now "in th
e crossfire and they have nowhere to go.'' Mr. Joseph Dantica did not deserve the treatment he received at Krome and from U.S. immigration authorities, nor the treatment he received from the UN and "police" in Haiti who blithely put his life and work in danger. Then left him defenseless and at the mercy of Haiti's chaos and then U.S. homeland security authorities. But, his story is part and parcel of the Haitian story of struggle, sacrifice and loss at the hands of the world's most resourceful and "educated."

We try here at the Network to tell that story, to give voice to the distraught and disenfranchised in Haiti in this sacred 2004-year AND their indomitable courage to continue to resist tyranny and oppression in this time when the greatest powers in the world have combined their forces to hurl Haiti's impoverished back to the dictatorship of death squad mercenaries and sweatshop kingpins.

We pray and work so that the slaughter being supervised by UN troops will STOP, that the politica
l prisoners be released and that the U.S. warmongering neocons will get a conscience so that no other 81-year old Haitian with a perfectly good visa and passport is treated so inhumanly and allowed to die so pointlessly, so senselessly in these United States of America. May the better half of America please stand up for authentic democracy and the rule of law and denounce this sort of representation of the U.S. overseas and at home. May the rule of law, not force or the gun, quickly find the light of day so that this Haitian holocaust will END, be STOPPED.

I am so, so sorry Edwidge. Our deepest condolences. Keep your head up.

Marguerite Laurent, Esq.
Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network
November 16, 2004[/quote]

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Our sorrow and outrage

Post by admin » Wed Nov 17, 2004 11:20 pm

The management of Windows on Haiti presents its deepest sympathies to Mr. Dantica's family.

While this case is aggravated by the death of a respected and esteemed 81-year old member of the Haitian community, we recall this other one:, that of David Joseph and his brother Daniel.

How many other cases of blatant abuse will occur before the Haitian-American community wakes up and says "Enough!"?

Time will tell.

Shame on the people in power who allow these abuses to continue.

Pity our divisions that give our abusers a free ride.

In sorrow and outrage,

Guy S. Antoine
Windows on Haiti

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Family Seeks Answers in Haitian's Death

Post by admin » Sun Nov 21, 2004 5:37 pm

Family Seeks Answers in Haitian's Death

Fri Nov 19, 11:17 PM ET U.S. National - AP

By SAM DOLNICK, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK - In the midst of her grief, renowned Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat described a "personal nightmare" involving the uncle who raised her in Haiti and died this month in U.S. custody after arriving in Miami.

"It is my nightmare that he died alone handcuffed to a bed," she said during a telephone interview from Brooklyn, where the wake of her 81-year-old uncle, Joseph Dantica, was held Friday night.

Dantica, a minister, died Nov. 3, five days after he fled Haiti for Miami, applied for asylum out of fear of gang violence in Port-au-Prince, and was detained by federal authorities as they reviewed his case.

As Brooklyn's Haitian commun
ity grieved for her uncle, Danticat, her family and a group of Haitian activists reiterated calls for an investigation into his death.

"They're claiming the detention had nothing to do with his death, but unfortunately the evidence suggests otherwise," Jocelyn McCalla, executive director of the National Coalition for Haitian Rights, said in a telephone interview.

Russ Knocke, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, called the death "horribly unfortunate and tragic" but said the agency was not responsible.

"His detention had no bearing whatsoever on his passing," Knocke said by telephone from Washington. Knocke said Dantica died of a pre-existing condition -inflammation of the pancreas.

Danticat, the author of the 1995 National Book Award finalist "Krik? Krak!" said she is skeptical of the government's explanation.

"They're claiming a pre-existing condition we never knew he had," she said. "It was a complete shock to us."

Rep. Kendrick Meek (news,
bio, voting record), D-Fla., is among those who have asked Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to investigate, but Knocke said the case "would presumably be closed out" because the death already has been carefully reviewed.

Danticat lived with her uncle in Haiti until she left for New York at age 12. She spells her name differently because of a clerical error on her father's birth certificate.

Danticat said her uncle should not have been detained because he entered with a valid multiple-entry visa that had previously been accepted without problem. Knocke said he could not confirm that the visa was valid.

Danticat also said her uncle's blood-pressure medication had been seized and his family had not been permitted to see him.

Knocke said he was unaware of any confiscated medication. He said it is government policy that only a lawyer be permitted access to detainees pending a review for asylum.

Empress Verite

My Condolensces to Edwidge and her family

Post by Empress Verite » Mon Nov 22, 2004 1:29 am

One and Respe

I am so sorry about the death of Mr. Dantica. I feel that he was a victim of the situation in Haiti that led him to seek refuge and asylum in the United State where he was again victimized by the Department of Homeland Security. They have done it again to us and this time to an elderly do goder who was too honest. He will meet the Most High in Heaven and tell the truth about their atrocities and all of the isms that they hold against us.

This man helped to raise and nurture an important figure in Haitian history and letters. Edwidge has been a figure of hope and courage in a universe of ignorance about Haitian culture, literature and history. Even Oprah who invited her to participate in her book club and later in her movie Beloved admitted that she does not like Haitian paintings or art. In fact, Jonathan Demme was in the process of trying to convince her to include Haitian ar
t in her collections. Edwidge is a piece of art created by Haitians for world consumption. She produces literary works that speaks to our history and culture and courage. In addition, she takes great risks to speak out and stand with many Haitian issues that others in her position have chosen to ignore. Other writers of African descent are not readily accessible to the masses as she had made herself out to be. She is kind and polite and well mannered. She has a great respect for other people's potential and that is rare. We can thank that man, Mr. Dantica her uncle who was brutally tortured in captivity and murdered for helping to raise her into the human being that she has become. Everytime she gets press time, we can say a prayer of thanks for the way that her uncle has contributed to that great individual who has succeeded so well.

We know how hard it is for any Haitian to achieve a life without abuse and to have experience nurturing, kindness, love and support. The very few who had it as such hav
e managed to succeed, we see it in Wyclef Jean, who had a wonderful family who supported him, we see it with others and Edwidge is one of them. When her parents entrusted her into the care of her uncle, they were blessed to have had someone as kind and nurturing as he to do the job. She stayed with him for a good deal of her formative years in Haiti and I have only read good things from her about her time with her uncle. I remember one instance when she wrote about watching an uncle (presumably him) shave old Haitian style with the mirror and the foam and gillette type instrument. It was a typical scene out of 1970s Haiti and it validated my memories as a displaced Haitian in transit.

I have also experienced the harshness of Krome both in South Miami and in Canada and watching a love one in KKKaptivity is TERROR let alone being unable to be with that person or persons! Especially if they need medical attention!!! This was typical of treatment at Jackson. You need someone on the inside and since Edwid
ge has lived in South Florida now for a few years I hoped that she would have heard. I lost my baby at 31 weeks at Jackson last year, I was treated like a criminal and I was violated by the non-Haitian staff. The Haitians acted helpless as if they too were victim of a Terrorist structure. Mr. Dantica deserved to be with his loved ones during his illness even wanted murderers are allowed that necessity. What were they affraid of? An 81 year old TERRORIST! They are getting outrageous with these claims. In the 1980s it was AIDS and HIV and now it's Terrorism! When will we be free?

A Haitian professor at Florida International University once told me that the ethnocentrism against Haitians was a thing of the past. He said this as a non-Haitian black woman on the bus was telling us to be quiet (as if our Haitian Kreyol was too harsh for her ears!!!) and I was appalled at his willingness to forget. He was in the process of applying for tenure and so I bit my tongue and chose not to fight that fight. However
, this recent incident is a time for all Haitians (even those who went to the other side and voted for the Shrub whose administration has instituted this Department of Homeland Security and polarized the country with racial profiling) to stand up and RENOUNCE this mistreatment and abuse by the system! This is an atrocity and we cannot allow it to keep happenning because it will destroy us. Mr. Dantica was an investment that had not reached full maturity. The average life span of a Haitian man is in the late 40s to early 50s and this man would have gone on and reached a 100! These centenarians are so important to our history and oral culture. Since the days of slavery the lifespan of a Haitian has been diminishing. A slave supposedly had a 7 year lifespan upon getting off the boat as a "bossal". And now we can say that upon reaching the shores of the United Snakes a Haitian has a lifespan of 36 hours! This was murder, amBush at Miami International symbolically at the time when the African American woman in cha
rge there was forced to resign.

What are we to do now let them continue to seek us out and violate us? We know full well that love is a great medicine. Studies have shown that those in hospitals or who are ill do much better when they are surrounded by the love and support of family members or close relatives. This man an innocent person guilty of being an honest Haitian was denied that right and it could have saved him. I feel that even though he was found to have had a terminal illness he could have lived for a little while longer had he been given the care and love that he needed and deserved! Even Arafat was allowed to be with his loved ones in his last days and Mr. Dantica was treated just like Toussaint Louverture. He was forced to leave his beloved country and forced into imprisonment and isolation and he died of CHAGRIN.

I feel such sadness because I thought that I was being singled out for abuse because of my lifestyle but now the stakes have gones up and they are abusing everyone at
will or who are associated with Haiti. Haitians in South Florida have to make up their minds once and for all and stand for the truth. Mr. Mayor Celestin and all of the RepublikKKLan strategists in the Haitian community must RENOUNCE the Department of Homeland Security for their racism and for profiling innocent people. The resignation of Tom Ridge will not be enough. We need that department to be restructured to better serve the people that they are supposedly protecting, namely US residents who pay taxes and do their civic duty.

I pray for you Edwidge and for your family. I know that you are strong and that your family is close and so I have faith that you will come through this stronger and more determined to keep on writting the truth about our struggle and existence. You have always kept your head up by being a succulent flower in a desert of impotence and hopelessness. I know that you will use this experience to teach the world about the love that your uncle showed you and your family for so lon
g and this will keep him alive in all of our hearts and minds.

Mr. Dantica ventured where many dared not. He gave of himself and he was brave in the face of violence. I am sure that he died with courage and dignity inspite of the fact that they tried to humiliate him. And as Marcus Garvey said "...In death [he] shall be a terror!".

Blessings and heartfelt prayer.

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Post by admin » Fri Nov 26, 2004 10:27 pm

[quote]I have also experienced the harshness of Krome both in South Miami and in Canada and watching a love one in KKKaptivity is TERROR let alone being unable to be with that person or persons! Especially if they need medical attention!!! This was typical of treatment at Jackson. You need someone on the inside and since Edwidge has lived in South Florida now for a few years I hoped that she would have heard. I lost my baby at 31 weeks at Jackson last year, I was treated like a criminal and I was violated by the non-Haitian staff. The Haitians acted helpless as if they too were victim of a Terrorist structure.[/quote]
[quote]I was treated horribly at the Jackson and Parkway last year during my pregnancy. I experienced so much racism, sexism, classism and ethnocentrism that I wanted to die. Were it not for my 2 boys I would have given in and let them do it. It was HOR
RIBLE the horror that I survived at Jackson and Parkway. Folks from all walks of life took it upon themselves to roll their eyes at me (a Haitian woman immigrant on a wheelchair) and to push me around and mistreat me. It was as if Homeland Security had given them the script and told them how to mistreat me. I was seeking help during a very difficult pregnancy and subsequent health problems that occurred.

I could not believe these benign Haitians and black folks of all hues and how they were willing to mistreat the likes of me for what a few pennies of a terrible job? Everytime I went to Parkway about my pregnancy, the terror alert was elevated and of course I received terrible mistreatment.[/quote]
Empress, I want to acknowledge your pain. From your writings on this forum, it is clear that your life has been a harrowing experience from your enrollment in the doctoral program at the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League School, to your recent experience at Jackson that you have relat
ed in these notes and others.

I wonder if your choice of being a Rasta would account for most of your troubles. In saying so, I do not mean to be irreverent, insensitive, or disrespectful. Quite the contrary. I just sense that your hardship is much greater than that of the average Black woman or even Black Haitian woman. As such, one must unapologetically examine the source of such adversity in order to decide what best to do about it.

In any case, I want you to know, that while it is never easy to write about one's personal pain or even the pain of others, it is not true that all Haitians do not care about each other. I want to tell you that I value you and that I do care.

Let your full story come out. It needs to be told.

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Post by admin » Sat Dec 04, 2004 11:06 pm

<p align=jusitfy>Empress, while you have not yet responded to my suggestion above, I got around to read your defining essay in Edwidge Danticat's "the butterfly's way" :

Map Viv: My Life as a Nyabinghi Razette

I thought it very interesting and unlike anything I have read before from a Haitian, woman or man. It would be a nice piece of writing to share with your friends on the forum, so I wonder: 1) whether you have it in electronic format, which would not necessitate reyping; 2) whether your agreement with Edwidge would allow you to reprint your essay here; 3) whether you would be willing to do just that.

Up until I read your story, I would not for the life of me understand what a Nyabinghi Razette is. Now I know.

Empress Verite

Mesi Anpil Guysanto:

Post by Empress Verite » Sun Dec 05, 2004 12:06 am

One and Respe:

Thank you so much Guy for the acknowledgement about my lifestyle. The fact is that I did not mean to focus on my pain and what I went through last year trying to get medical attention at Jackson and Parkway in Miami. I just wanted to point out that I had a taste of the horror that homeland security can encourage their agents to bring down on private citizens like me and Mr. Dantica. I am very sorry that he died and that he was so mistreated. Edwidge lost a poto mitan in her hounfo of life. She has built a very nice life for herself and her family in the US and I realize that a few years ago she began to travel to Miami more regularly because of her fiancé. I read that she married him and has decided to settle in the little Haiti area. I thought that she would have heard from folks in the community about the problems at these hospitals and specifically how homeland security
has come to dominate other people's lives in the area.

I am truly sorry about what happenned to Pastor Dantica and I hope that some resolution comes about from all of the efforts that the family is putting out including the cries from Church World Services.

In terms of my piece in Edwidge's book, I guess I can type it and upload that to a thread or send it to you via email. I have seen some of the materials that you have in your OurStory section and you've got great folks on there. For instance, Gina Ulysse and her sister have essays in Edwidge's book. I enjoyed all of those essays very much. I hope that more works of that nature are published so that we can better understand the nature of Haitian identity in the djaspora.

Mesi anpil. I'll get to it when I have some time soon.

Empress Verite

My Hardships as a Nyabinghi Razette

Post by Empress Verite » Sun Dec 05, 2004 12:13 am

One and Respe Guy and all:

I wanted to acknowledge your comments about my lifestyle and the hardships that I experienced last year. Well, I have thought about that and I do believe that there is a concerted effort in Miami to mistreat me. At several businesses and institutions that I frequent I have been treated violently and with disrespect. However, I have tried not to complain because I am afraid of the wrath or making the problem worse. I hope and pray that it does not get any worse but I am skeptical. The republican stronghold here has permeated the entire fabric of our lives. I feel watched and eavesdropped on all of the times. In addition, black on black crime seemed to have taken on a new character, a more volatile and deadly one. As such, I live in fear everyday and I hope that the average person black Haitian woman does not have to live with this much hardship and negativity.

I will keep
on keeping on. This board helps a lot to stay focused and on top of the issues and to feel connected to more optimistic voices.


Empress Verite

Agreement with Soho Press

Post by Empress Verite » Sun Dec 05, 2004 3:04 am

One and Respe Guysanto:

I believe that I signed a contract with Soho press about that essay that you have asked me to reprint on your site. I will have to contact them or check the forms that I have. However, I remain skeptical about being able to do that. I have seen some of the essays and other works that you have by folks like Miriam Chancy and I guess that it should be alright because they reprinted essays previously published elsewhere. But I don't want to step on the wrong toes or screw myself out into permanent obscurity.


Post by » Mon Dec 06, 2004 12:53 am

Empress, in my experience, this should not cause you any problem. You should just alert them that you desire to submit your own writing to a forum of public opinion, because this would serve to enlighten your community. The answer is likely that you can, but they will ask you to precede the reprint with a phrase to the effect that the essay was first published by xxxx.

In Windows on Haiti, I have published many pieces that had been published elsewhere already, but always sought the consent of the writer, who often would check first with the publisher, before giving me the go-ahead. That is usually a congenial affair, not one marred with disputes, especially if the publisher's material investment has already been secured. In this case, they never mind the "free" advertisement.

So, don't fret, just ask, and the permission will be granted graciously, I am sure.



Post by Caroline » Mon Dec 06, 2004 10:58 am

I'm looking forward to reading your story!

Empress Verite

Pasteur Dantica's Continues...

Post by Empress Verite » Wed Dec 08, 2004 12:27 am

One and Respe Windows on Haiti:

I will contact Soho Press asap. Thanks again for the forum and the free press.

It's too bad that I will never meet the Pastor Dantica, he sounds like he was an honorable person and I met some of Edwidge's in-laws and they were nice folks.

Blessings and peace.

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Meek Secures Investigation of Haitian's Death

Post by admin » Fri Dec 10, 2004 2:43 am


December 9, 2004

Tasha Cole/Drew Hammill
(202) 225-4506

Meek Secures Investigation of Haitian's Death

Homeland Security Inspector General's Inquiry Part of Wider Investigation of Detainee Treatment

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Rep. Kendrick B. Meek today released a letter from the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Inspector General (IG) confirming that the IG has agreed to Meek's request for an investigation into the death of Joseph Dantica, an 81-year old Haitian reverend who died in DHS custody while seeking asylum in the United States. (Letter from IG Ervin attached).

"I welcome the news that Inspector General Ervin is investigating the treatment of Reverend Dantica while he was in custody at Krome," Meek said. "Reverend Dantica's case is particularly tr
oubling due to the treatment he received, his age and his health. Mr. Ervin has also given me assurances that his office is examining whether systematic abuse of detainees in DHS facilities is occurring."

Meek wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Thomas Ridge and Inspector General Clark Kent Ervin on Nov. 17, asking for an Inspector General's investigation into news reports that Mr. Dantica was detained once he entered the United States and requested asylum even though he had a valid U.S. visa; that DHS withheld Dantica's medication while in DHS custody; and he was not allowed visits from his family or attorney.

"The Inspector General is independent from the regular bureaucracy and political appointees, which is why I wanted an IG investigation into these reports," Meek said. "We need to have confidence that all people who are under federal jurisdiction--especially children, the aged and infirm--are treated properly, decently and fairly."

- -

Congressman Meek's letters to
Secretary Ridge and Homeland Security Department Inspector General Ervin follow:

November 17, 2004

The Honorable Thomas J. Ridge

Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security
3801 Nebraska Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20016

RE: Investigation into Death of Joseph Dantica, Haitian National Detained at Krome Detention Center

Dear Secretary Ridge:

I write to bring your personal attention to the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of Joseph Dantica, a Haitian national who reportedly legally entered the United States seeking asylum, but died while in DHS custody. The attached letter and news article that I sent to Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Clark Kent Ervin requesting that he investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Dantica provides additional details about the case. I request that you conduct an investigation of your own into Mr. Dantica's death and support Inspector General Ervin's investigatory efforts as wel

I believe that this is a very serious matter that warrants higher level attention than it has received, particularly in light of previous complaints about the treatment of Haitians and others at Krome Detention Center in Miami. I, therefore, request that you conduct an administrative investigation into Mr. Dantica's death.

I look forward to your response and thank you for your kind attention to this important matter.


Member of Congress

cc: Inspector General Clark Kent Ervin

- -

November 17, 2004

Mr. Clark Kent Ervin

Inspector General

Department of Homeland Security

245 Murray Dr., Bldg. 4120
Washington, DC 20528

RE: Investigation into Death of Joseph Dantica, Haitian National Detained at Krome Detention Center

Dear Inspector General Ervin:

I write to you to ask that you investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Joseph Dantica, a Haitian who reported
ly entered this country legally and sought asylum, but died under suspicious circumstances while in DHS custody. I am enclosing a recent news article about this matter for your information.

According to reports, 81-year old Mr. Dantica and his son feared for their safety after UN troops used the church Mr. Dantica founded to stage an attack on a gang. Threatened with gang retribution for the UN attack, Mr. Dantica and his son fled Haiti for safety to the United States. Upon entry, Mr. Dantica reportedly provided a passport and a valid visa to immigration officials in Miami and requested asylum. The immigration official reportedly stated that Mr. Dantica would "have to go into the system" and Homeland Security officials sent him and his son to the Krome detention center.

Reportedly, when he arrived at Krome, Mr. Dantica's blood pressure medication was taken away from him and he was separated from his son. At the time of Mr. Dantica's credible fear hearing four days later, his medication
apparently still had not been returned to him. At the hearing, he reportedly started throwing up and fell against a wall whereupon medics transported him to the Krome clinic and later to Jackson Memorial Hospital. During that time, Krome reportedly denied Mr. Dantica any visits from his lawyer or even his family members. The next day, Mr. Dantica was pronounced dead.

This matter is of great concern to me. My constituents have long raised complaints about arbitrary and poor treatment of Haitian detainees at Krome. DHS issued a statement concluding that Mr. Dantica died of pancreatitits, which it said was a preexisting and fatal condition. DHS further stated that there was no connection between Mr. Dantica's medical condition and the way he entered the United States. However, I am concerned because the statement failed to address and raises questions concerning: why Mr. Dantica was even taken into U.S. custody when he apparently possessed a valid visa; why he was separated from his son while in
detention; why Krome took away his medication; and why, considering his age and the fact that he had medication, he was not provided with timely medical attention.

I believe that this matter is so serious that it should not be dismissed as "business as usual," but rather warrants an independent and thorough investigation. It is for this reason that I bring it to your personal attention and I ask that you initiate an immediate investigation.

I look forward to your response and thank you for your kind attention to this important matter.


Member of Congress

Empress Verite

Thank You Mr. Meek

Post by Empress Verite » Sat Dec 11, 2004 3:59 am

Dear Representative Meeks:

I am writing to thank you for your efforts in getting an investigation started about the nature of Mr. Dantica's death. I am sure that we will find the truth. This will hopefully curtail the aggressive nature of homeland security and the unfair ways that Haitians have been treated through the immigration process especially since 9/11. I am thankful that you have chosen to stand and REPRESENT your entire constituency which includes Haitians. This is a matter that affects all black folks regardless of ethnic background or identification. I too have been unfairly profiled and violated by Homeland Security and I pray for the day that this stops.

Thank you for your courage and for being brave to stand with the struggle.

blessings and be well.

Empress Verite

My Letter to Representative Meeks

Post by Empress Verite » Sat Dec 11, 2004 4:01 am

One and Respe!

The previous post was a letter that I wrote to Mr. Meeks. He has stood with us on various issues and he seems to always be there. He works on mediating the roadblocks in his community that includes Haitians other Caribbean ethnics and African American.


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