Ambassador Who Helped Push Haiti Towards Democracy, Alvin P. Adams Jr., Dies at 73

Alvin P. Adams Jr., an American envoy and champion of human rights who was instrumental in nudging Haiti toward democracy, died on Oct. 10 at his home in Portland, Ore. He was 73.

The apparent cause was a heart attack, his cousin Timothy M. Phelps said.

A three-time ambassador, Mr. Adams persuaded Lt. Gen. Prosper Avril, the Haitian military ruler and a protégé of the ousted dictators Francois Duvalier and his son, Jean-Claude, to abdicate in March 1990 and leave the country on a United States Air Force jet.

General Avril’s departure paved the way for a provisional civilian replacement and, later that year, for the ascension of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti’s first freely elected president and a Roman Catholic priest at the time.

While Father Aristide campaigned on a leftist platform critical of the United States, Mr. Adams insisted before the election that “what interests us here is the integrity and credibility of the process, and we are prepared to work with whoever is chosen by the people of this country.”

Once Father Aristide was elected, he specifically thanked American officials for supporting the free election process.

Mr. Adams was also credited with saving Father Aristide’s life the following year, denouncing the military coup that overthrew him while negotiating his safe passage to Venezuela. Father Aristide returned to power in 1994.

Alvin Philip Adams Jr. was born in New York City on Aug. 29, 1942, and grew up in the city, in Oyster Bay, on Long Island, and in Jackson Hole, Wyo. His father, also named Alvin, was an airline executive. His mother was the former Elizabeth Miller, who ran a bookstore and was a daughter of Nathan L. Miller, a governor of New York in the early 1920s.

Mr. Adams graduated from Yale University in 1964 and from Vanderbilt University Law School in 1967.

He served in diplomatic posts in Vietnam and in Washington, including the office of the ambassador at large for counterterrorism.

Mr. Adams was the envoy to Djibouti from 1983-1985, to Haiti from 1989-1992 and to Peru from 1993-1996, appointed under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush.

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SOURCE: NY Times, Sam Roberts