838.00/1563: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Minister in Haiti (Bailly-Blanchard)

Confidential. The American Mission in Paris has informed the Department that the Haitian Minister to France, who is also delegate to Conference, has spoken with Mr. Lansing regarding Haiti’s desire that American occupation be withdrawn from Haiti, but Haitian Minister stated that his Government had understood that [Page 330]as soon as the Treaty in 1916 [1915] was signed and the Gendarmerie established the occupation would be withdrawn. Several representations were made to the Department in 1916 and 1917 in this connection30 but as it was unwise to change statu[s] quo, before it was seen how well the Gendarmerie would be able to control the situation, the Haitian notes were not given a definite answer. After the outbreak of war it was, of course, impossible for military reasons to make any change in conditions.

The American Mission is now of the opinion, however, that since the signature of peace is not far distant the same excuse cannot be advanced and that in view of the fact that the Gendarmerie has proved its ability to handle most any situation in the Republic, if it has the knowledge that there are some American Marines on the island, it would seem impossible to continue the occupation in its present form without subjecting the United States to much criticism particularly as the rights of smaller nations are being kept to the fore and in the light of the President’s utterances the Mission is therefore of the opinion that co-incident with the signature of peace a change to the status of a Legation Guard would have an excellent effect. It is thought that by such action the Legation will be strengthened and the Gendarmerie will be morally supported by the presence of the Marines. It is argued that the same result would thus be obtained without the continual claim on the part of the Haitian Government that the United States is keeping a military control over them. In case of trouble the threat could be made that the United States again will occupy Haiti and place it under Martial law in order to carry out its Treaty obligations.

You are instructed to bring up these conditions at a Conference of Treaty officials and cable the Department the Conference’s opinions. The Department believes that the increase in banditry mentioned in your March 15, 12 noon30 should be taken into consideration in judging whether the Gendarmerie has proved its ability to handle any situation in the Republic.

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Polk
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