Notes from a small island
A weblog by Jonathan Ali

Monday, November 22, 2004  

Still André and I were constantly reminded by our Aunt Denise and Uncle Joseph, who were caring for us in an impoverished and politically volatile neighborhood in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, that we were lucky our parents were in New York. If we dared to disagree with that idea, the Faustian bargain our parents had faced would be clearly laid out for us. They could have stayed behind with us and we could have all gone without a great many necessary things, or they could have gone to New York to work so that we could have not only clothes and food and school fees but also a future.

As my Uncle Joseph liked to say, for people like us, the malere, the poor, the future was not a given. It was something to be clawed from the edge of despair with sweat and blood....

On Nov. 3, my Uncle Joseph died at age 81. More formally known as the Rev. Joseph N. Dantica, he died in Miami after fleeing gang violence and death threats in Haiti. He was detained by Department of Homeland Security officials after requesting asylum in the United States and died in their custody. The department said the cause was pancreatitis.

-- From an article published in yesterday's New York Times by Edwidge Danticat. (This news item from the St. Petersburg Times gives a detailed account of the circumstances surrounding Joseph Dantica's death.)

posted by Jonathan | 4:17 PM 0 comments


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