838.00/2618: Telegram

The High Commissioner in Haiti ( Russell ) to the Secretary of Stale

92. Department’s 59, December 4, 5 p.m., and 60, December 4, 8 p.m. The situation in Haiti is very serious. Had I not taken action I did [Page 191] yesterday the local situation would have gotten out of hand and there would have been serious loss of life among both Haitians and Americans. Prompt action on my part has had an excellent effect in quieting the situation here. I have spent practically 12 years in Haiti, during a period of which there was an uprising with five or six thousand men in the [several?] attacks on the city. I am consequently not carried away by any small demonstration and did not act in this particular case until the necessity warranted extreme measures.

My request for a small reenforcement was for the purpose of stationing 50 men at ports where there are customhouses and hospitals and public offices all established pursuant to treaty obligations and under the direction of Americans who have their families with them. At Aux Cayes the present situation has this morning become grave. There are 25 Americans at Aux Cayes, 14 are women and children. Communication by telephone has just reached me that the situation there is rapidly getting out of hand. The brigade commander has sent planes to drop bombs in the harbor with the hope of overaweing the people but I have just received word that it has had only a momentary effect.

The garde is [organized?] as a regiment of the brigade and only in certain specific instances will marines appear. The moral support of the marines and, where absolutely necessary, their physical support is essential to stiffen up the garde. Physical contacts and all arrests where possible are to be made by the garde backed up by the brigade. This, in order to maintain the prestige of the garde. Here at Port-au-Prince since the marines came on the scene the garde’s action has. been entirely different. The effective strength of the brigade here is such as not to permit of the distribution of the forces at the ports under present conditions. The brigade commander is however sending 40 marines to Aux Cayes by truck but it will take them at least 8 hours to make the journey. Conditions such as exist at Aux Cayes may at any moment break out at Jacmel, Miragoane, Gonaives or other ports. I am of the belief that with 50 men stationed at the ports, stiffening the garde, loss of life and property may be avoided. Otherwise it may become more grave with loss of life and business conditions paralyzed. All treaty organizations and National Bank of Haiti have joined in the [apparent omission].

In view of the above I have to again recommend that the request I made in my 89, December 3, 8 p.m., receive the Department’s immediate approval.