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Assassination does not halt plans for Aristide's return.

WASHINGTON and PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Haiti's government-in-exile and volunteer U.S. peace monitors continue preparations for Aristide's late October return home. This, despite the Sept 11 assassination of exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's leading financial backer, businessman Antoine Izmery, during a Mass in Port-au-Prince.

Government-in-exile Foreign Minister Claudette Werleigh arrived in Haiti from the United States two days after the daylight execution. At the Haitian Embassy in Washington, transition work still is under way for Aristide's anticipated Oct. 30 arrival in his country.

Despite the Izmery slaying, U.S.-organized "peaceful presence" projects in Haiti - to coincide with the second anniversary of President Aristide's Sept. 29-30, 1991, ouster - are going ahead, organizers say.

Nearly a dozen sponsoring organizations, ranging from Pax Christi USA and the Washington Office on Haiti to the Sojourners Community and Quixote Center, to the Haiti Communications Project and the Fellowship of Reconciliation, have been recruiting peace mission volunteer "monitors."

Among those intending to be present on the ouster anniversary are Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton and the Pax Christi USA executive director, Benedictine Sr. Anne McCarthy.

Of the dozen or so people connected with that group, said McCarthy, "We intend to be pretty low key. The situation is pretty volatile and even before the (Izmery slaying), people were being killed in front of OAS (Organization of American States) observers."

Also headed to Haiti is Paul Scire of Witness for Peace, which also has a delegation under way. Scire said that as a result of the Izmery slaying, he has received telephone calls regarding personal safety from some of the 11 WFP intended delegates.

"Their main question," said Scire, "is, |How important is it that we go?' and my answer is, |It is more important than ever before to have an international presence.' There is a level of risk. We cannot guarantee their safety, but we can take measures to heighten the security," continued Scire. "We're more concerned with the safety of our Haitian hosts than for ourselves."

Scire said that Port-au-Prince contacts have assured him that those hosts already regard themselves as targets for anti-Aristide forces in Haiti, and that an international presence and their contact with international visitors - even if high profile - actually adds to their security.

Meanwhile, to a terrified Haiti, the Sept. 11 executions of two Sacre Coeur parishioners, Izmery and a friend waiting outside, confirmed that the country has reentered a period of army and Duvalierist-sponsored violence and intimidation.

Saturday's Sacre Coeur Mass celebrated the fifth anniversary of another slaughter at a Port-au-Prince church, the 1988 St. Jean Bosco massacre.

The 75 parishioners and six priests, courageously gathered Sept. 11 to honor those martyrs, knew that anti-Aristide forces had pledged to attack the commemorative service.
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Title Annotation:Haiti - exiled Pres. Jean-Bertrand Aristide
Author:Jones, Arthur; Slavin, J.P.
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Date:Sep 24, 1993
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