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November 19, 2004

Edwige Danticat's Uncle Dies in US Gov't Custody

by Ron Hogan

If you haven't seen this story on the blogs already, read the St. Petersburg Times account. Rev. Joseph Dantica left Haiti at the end of October and asked for political asylum when he arrived in Miami. Instead, he and his son were detained by the Department of Homeland Security, and the 81-year-old preacher apparently had his high blood pressure medication taken away from him.

Homeland Security rejected any responsibility for Dantica's death. "Mr. Dantica died of pancreatitis while in Homeland Security custody, which an autopsy by the Miami-Dade County medical examiner's office revealed as a pre-existing and fatal condition," the department said.

UPDATE: Anna Kushner of PEN has emailed, "PEN is following up on these reports and will keep you informed. In the meantime, you may wish to join in an emergency appeal coordinated by Human Rights First (formerly Lawyers Committee for Human Rights), a group that has been especially active in monitoring Homeland Security detentions. An appeal letter can be sent directly from the Human Rights First web site. In addition, the National Coalition for Haitian Rights is calling for a federal investigation into the death of Joseph Dantica and change in U.S. policy at a press briefing tonight at 7 p.m. in Brooklyn. Please contact Jocelyn McCalla of the National Coalition for Haitian Rights for further information.


Joseph Dantica was my uncle and I miss him dearly. He was a kind man that didn't deserve this. He was a cancer survivor that had his vocal cords removed over 25 years ago. So for over 25 years he's been preaching the gospel and he he has championed causes, specifically funding for schools in Haiti and also for his church. He was a great, proud, honorable and decent man that didn't deserve to die alone in a jail cell. No one does. People are fighting to see justice done. I want to see the men that abused my uncle pay for what they did. All in the name of Homeland Security?!?! What threat did he pose to National Security?! I am urging all who hear about this story to not let this die. He died alone, but this story doesn't have to die alone as well.

Posted by: Kelly Danticat at November 22, 2004 02:44 PM
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