I never thought my grandfather would die of natural causes. Apparently very few people did. As we called around to inform family and friends of his death, most people asked, “Who killed him,” rather than “how did he die.” I suppose I’m not surprised. Arrested in 1966 for his political views, my grandfather spent eleven years in prison, under both Papa Doc and Baby Doc. My mom was six years old when they took him away, my uncle Ilitch, a newborn. He was tortured and starved, but he lived to tell the world about it, publishing his memoir, Triangle de la Mort: Journal d’un Prisonnier Politique Haïtien 1966-1977, in 2003. Since his release, he has co-founded a non-profit organization for former political prisoners, friends and relatives of the disappeared, worked at L’Ecole Normale Supérieure in Haiti and tirelessly campaigned fought for human rights. This past January, upon the return of Baby Doc to Haiti, from exile, my grandfather and other former political prisoners officially pressed charges against the former dictator.
shreds the infernal machine that is dictatorship." - Claude Rosier
Ever since I could remember, everything I have done has been to please my grandfather. He was the one person in the world whom I loved without complexities and whose approval I always sought. He continuously encouraged me, giving me books, editing my poems and short stories, and fighting alongside me whenever I needed support. Although his death is a huge loss to our family, Haiti, and the global fight for human rights, I cannot say I am sad today. My grandfather did more in his lifetime for his fellow men and women then most people could ever do in several lifetimes. So no, I am not sad. Rather, I celebrate his life, his mission, and his legacy. I celebrate, for I know in my veins, flow the blood a hero. The many people he inspired will keep carry the torch. He will live through us, through me, through my life’s work and purpose. And as long as I live, I shall strive to make him proud.