838.00 Commission of Investigation/3

Memorandum by Mr. Winthrop R. Scott, of the Division of Latin American Affairs, of a Conversation With the Haitian Chargé (Lizaire)

Mr. Lizaire stated that he had called to inquire concerning the Presidential Commission which he understood was to be sent to Haiti. He said that he wished to make a report to his Government concerning [Page 206] this matter. I asked Mr. Lizaire if he had seen the report of the President’s Message23 which made reference to this matter and, upon his replying in the negative, I showed him a copy of the Washington Post containing the text of the President’s message and pointed out to him that portion which dealt with the proposed commission to Haiti. I added that this was about all that could be said about the commission at this time. Mr. Lizaire thanked me and said that he would send a cable to his Government transmitting the information as contained in the American press.

The Haitian Chargé briefly touched on political matters in Haiti, making reference to the recent announcement of President Borno that he would not be a candidate for re-election.24 The Chargé stated that, in spite of Mr. Borno’s public statement, the principal candidates for the Presidency were now members on the Council of State and their forces so divided that it might not be possible for an agreement to be reached on any given candidate. In such case, a situation might arise which would make inevitable the re-election of President Borno. It should be added, parenthetically, that this statement has been made by Mr. Lizaire on almost every occasion when he has visited the Department during the past few months.

Mr. Lizaire then referred to the students’ strike in Port au Prince,25 stating that he felt the affair was most regrettable and was due to a lack of understanding on both sides. Amplifying this idea he said that he thought the students felt that a portion of the money which was due them in the form of scholarships was being diverted to help finance the payment of salaries to experts who had been hired by the service technique and who, according to the opinion of these boys, were personal friends of Dr. Freeman.26 Mr. Lizaire added that he, of course, understood that such an idea was absurd but that the whole spirit of the service technique and the work that they were attempting to do was quite generally misunderstood among Haitians.

Upon closing the interview, Mr. Lizaire again referred to the question of the Presidential commission in Haiti and stated that he felt that perhaps the Department should know that President Borno was very much opposed to a commission of this kind being sent to Haiti. I reminded the Chargé that the majority of American officials in Haiti were, of course, commissioned officers or employees of the United States Government and subject to administrative control by their Government, whether on duty in Haiti or elsewhere. Mr. Lizaire said that he fully appreciated that fact and could not, personally, see how any objection could be raised to any investigation which might be [Page 207] made of the work of the American officials as such, but that any commission which would go to Haiti would inevitably greatly enlarge the scope of its review beyond the question of American officials. It was an investigation of purely Haitian affairs to which President Borno objected. To this last I made no comment but thanked Mr. Lizaire for the interest he had shown in bringing to the attention of the Department his point of view, or that of his Government, on these various subjects.

W[inthrop] R. S[cott]
  1. Annual message of December 3, 1929, vol. i, p. v .
  2. See telegram No. 87, November 29, 1929, from the High Commissioner in Haiti, p. 174.
  3. See pp. 175 ff.
  4. Director of the Service Technique.