Message of the President of the United States to Congress, December 7, 1929 27
In my message to Congress of the 3d instant28 I indicated my concern as to the future of our policies in Haiti. I stated that we have there about 700 marines, and that we are confronted with a difficult problem, the solution of which is still obscure. I further stated that if Congress approves I shall dispatch a commission to Haiti to review and study the matter in an endeavor to arrive at some more definite policy than at present.
Our representatives in Haiti have shown great ability and devotion, and have accomplished signal results in improvement of the material condition of that people. Yet our experience has revealed more clearly than was seen at first the difficulties of the problem, and the entire situation should be reviewed in the light of this experience.
Since the dispatch of my message disturbances in Haiti emphasize the importance of such an investigation and determination of national policies in the immediate future.
The students at the agricultural school at Damien went on a strike on October 31 as a protest against a new policy of the Haitian Government. The Haitian Government has heretofore allotted $10,000 per annum to this school for scholarships, but this year it withheld $2,000 of the appropriation in order to make it possible for needy students to perform practical school work on the grounds. Sympathetic strikes were subsequently declared in the medical and law schools. President Borno appointed a committee of Haitians to inquire into the matter and it seemed probable at the time that recommendations presented by this committee and accepted by the authorities would adjust the difficulty. Unfortunately, advantage was taken of the situation by various agencies to foment disturbances against the Haitian administration, and on December 3 the American high commissioner reported that the strike movement had spread [Page 208] throughout the country and that it was feared that the Haitian employees of the departments under American treaty officials might become involved.
On December 4 customhouse employees at Port au Prince abandoned their work in a disorderly manner and crowds have gathered in Port au Prince. At the same time there were reported demonstrations by crowds at Cape Haitien in sympathy with the disturbance in Port au Prince. The American high commissioner reported that on the morning of December 4 it was feared that disorderly conditions would arise at Aux Cayes and similar disturbances were possible at other places.
The high commissioner has asked that additional marines be in readiness to make sure that if the situation becomes serious American lives will be protected, and the force he has suggested has been ordered dispatched for that purpose.
I feel that it is most desirable that the commission mentioned in my message of December 3 be constituted and sent to Haiti without delay, and I therefore request the Congress to authorize the immediate sending of such a commission and to appropriate for this purpose $50,000. It is my intention to include one or two members from each House of Congress on this commission.