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Departing U.S. Ambassador Makes Final Plea For Democracy

August 2, 1992 GMT

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) _ U.S. Ambassador Alvin Adams, who in three years irritated dictators and pushed for Haiti’s first democratic elections, ended his tour Saturday with a plea for freedom in the hemisphere’s poorest nation.

″Let’s hope democracy will get another chance. It can’t be dead,″ he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview, several hours before his afternoon flight to Washington D.C. The 49-year-old diplomat has been designated ambassador to Peru.

Until a new ambassador is named, the charge d’affaires, Leslie Alexander, will run the U.S. mission in Port-Au-Prince.

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Adams arrived in Haiti in November 1989, and his speech in defense of democracy so offended dictator Lt. Gen. Prosper Avril that he postponed the diplomat’s accreditation for a week.

″A loaded donkey does not stand still,″ the Creole-speaking Adams had said, quoting a Haitian proverb. The phrase was interpreted to mean the United States would not stop its push toward free elections.

From then on, in the press, in country fields and on city streets, Adams was known - sometimes affectionately, sometimes with exasperation - as Bourik Chaje, Creole for ″the loaded donkey.″

During a popular uprising in March 1990, Adams persuaded Avril to go into exile.

Elections finally did come, financed and supervised by the international community, in December 1990. But less than eight months after President Jean- Bertrand Aristide was inaugurated, he was toppled by the army.

Adams accompanied Aristide on his flight into exile and stood at his side while hundreds of soldiers taunted the first democratically elected president in 187 years of independence.

″Adams cared about our country, he was not indifferent; his concern is not that of your run-of-the mill diplomat,″ said human-rights activist Jean- Claude Bajeux. Still, Bajeux, like many Aristide supporters, questions whether Washington sincerely wants Aristide to return to office.

″The U.S. was disappointed when their candidate, Marc Bazin, lost in a landslide to Aristide,″ Bajeux said. ″Now, ironically, Bazin is in power. Adams is leaving, and he has not brought Aristide back.″

Bazin, appointed in June by parliament, is leading a military-backed government. Aristide has condemned the appointment.

After the military coup in September 1991, Adams issued such outspoken condemnations that anti-Aristide leaders demanded that the diplomat be declared persona non grata. Ultra-rightists blame him for a trade embargo imposed on Haiti after the coup.