Born in 1938 in Port-au-Prince, Jean Casimir is the second of four children. His mother, Laure Liautaud, ran a small school from their home. His father, Carvillon ‘Sonson’ Casimir, taught Latin at the Petit Séminaire Collège Saint-Martial and practiced law, finishing his career as an appellate court judge.
Casimir studied at the Petit Séminaire, Saint Louis de Gonzague, and later with the Oblates at Camp Perrin. He decided to become a priest, entering the novitiate of the Oblates in the United States but left before his vows. He returned to Haiti where he finished secondary school at the Lycée Pétion. He was accepted into the Ecole Normale Supérieure to study social science.
In 1958, he received government scholarships to pursue his education abroad and chose to study sociology in Mexico. Inspired by his Haitian university professors, who had cultivated his respect of Haitian reality and a love for historical knowledge, he decided to write his bachelor’s thesis on the Republic of Haiti. Years later, he received his doctorate in Sociology at The National Autonomous University of Mexico.
His stay in Mexico coincided with the thirty years of the Duvalier dictatorship. He began serving with the United Nations in the 1970s and joined the UN’s regional commission, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL). When he retired from the UN in 1988, he returned to Haiti to serve the republic. Two years later, he was named executive secretary of the first electoral committee that organized the December 16, 1990 elections. One month before the first coup d’état against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, he was named Haitian Ambassador to the United States and a permanent representative to the Organization of American States (OAS). President René Préval later named him permanent representative to UNESCO, but Casimir resigned before he was scheduled to begin the new position. Since 1997, he has worked as a professor at the Université d’Etat d’Haïti, as well as a speaker and author.
Casimir is the father of three children: Georges, an engineer, Myriam, a PhD in education, and Danièle, a lawyer. He has had a prolific career and enjoyed remarkable professional success. Nowadays, he dedicates himself to the passion that drives him: making the genius of the Haitians known.
*adapted and translated from Monique Clesca’s interview with the author in Le Nouvelliste published April 29, 2021.