838.00/1815: Telegram

The Chargé in Haiti (Jordan) to the Secretary of State

80. General Richards requests me to report his impressions after 2 weeks local observation as follows:

“State Department’s plan to effect coordination treaty and other officials correct in principle. Some elaboration in details seems necessary [Page 204] upon which Crowder’s18 advice is important, ultimately, as marines are reduced, the chief [of the] gendarmerie and the brigade should be one individual thus concentrating military [functions] into one treaty official, the President’s representative’s functions being primarily civil. Some study is necessary of the measure of control short of dictation President’s representative should exercise in view consistent hostile attitude Haitian officials toward needful reforms advocated by American Government.

As to present political conditions, ignorant peasant mass Haitians most benefited by occupation are unorganized and inarticulate, and public sentiment Haiti is opinion their spokesmen, the educated class of cities and towns of at most 1500. Save few who confess Haiti unfit self-government all are anti-American, while large majority are anti-occupation, wishing treaty changed lessening our powers without diminishing American restricting [?] and with a modified military occupation. A dwindling minority remains who would abrogate the treaty and terminate military occupation at all hazards.

There is no general change over former opinion, only difference being opinion now more openly manifested. Reasons existing political situation more apparent today to Haitian intellectuals [are] that our proper policies for Haiti’s welfare are antagonistic to their caste and other privileges; also prevailing high prices are unjustly charged to our intervention, also some American officials civil military have been tactless with Haitians and Haitian officials, also political propagandists adverse to American prestige have been most active.

As to American accomplishments, we have suppressed disorder With its untold benefits [sic] to peasant[s], reopened old communications by rebuilding roads, constructed necessary public works and irrigation projects, eliminated fraud in customs and other administrations, performed considerable sanitary work, created public hospitals and established humane prison administration, created native constabulary, growing in efficiency. But these would all disappear were the occupation to terminate now, while their value was lessened for road building revived the corvée inflicting hardship on peasantry and undoubtedly furnishing one of the causes for the recent revival of disorders.

Specifically, we have failed in our treaty obligations to introduce adequate system public accounting, to ascertain the exact amount of the public debt, and to meet until recently payments on foreign debt, while the interior debts and claims [have been] continuously neglected, and there have been other failures. The principal reason for our failure to accomplish these and other necessary reforms followed lack of organization of treaty and other American officials, which furnished excellent opportunity for effective Haitian opposition to join proposed reforms. Our principal difficulty now lies in that adverse attitude of present Haitian officials and the ruling class of Haitians, whose confidence we need, as through them only can we hope to work out durable reforms.

Considering American responsibilities treaty was undoubtedly defective in its specific provisions but under its broad terms it might have been possible then, through protocol or less formal agreement with Haiti, to have mutually interpreted its general provisions to [Page 205] include American supervision over judiciary, the school system, and to include also fields where reforms are needed but are less imperative and as to which Haitian officials seem now disposed to-obstruct us, such as tax reform, internal revenue, new laws as to commerce, irrigation and publication. To secure such agreement now seems especially difficult, though favorable opportunity may possibly present itself to State Department for such an agreement in present controversies over the $14,000,000 loan.

Specifically it seems we should not now attempt any reform in or control over the judiciary. This reform, however, lies at the bottom of our problem and should be attempted at the earliest practicable date. When the proposed new organization of administration by our treaty and other officials make[s] probable success apparent, or in other eventualities involving restored American prestige, we should attempt judiciary reform.”

  1. Maj. Gen. Enoch H. Crowder, representative on special mission in Cuba.