The Minister in Haiti (Munro) to the Secretary of State
[Received December 27.]
Sir: In response to the Department’s telegram No. 141, of December 19th. 6 p.m.,54 I have the honor to transmit herewith a summary [Page 267] of the Haitianization plans upon which the Treaty Services are now working and a few observations regarding the general problem of carrying out the recommendations of the President’s Commission for the study and review of conditions in the Republic of Haiti. In each of the Treaty Services the problem of replacing American by Haitian officials had already received detailed study before the departure of the High Commissioner. The tentative programs which were worked out under his direction have already been put into execution to some extent. Since my arrival, I have been making a careful study of these programs and of the general problem of reducing the activities of the American Treaty Officials. The problem is an exceedingly complicated one and I am not prepared after so short a stay in Haiti to express definite or final opinions regarding it. Any recommendations made in this despatch must therefore be regarded as tentative. The situation in each Treaty Service may briefly be described as follows:
The Military School has been reestablished in accordance with the recommendations of the Forbes Commission. An unexpectedly large number of candidates applied for admission and somewhat over fifty were enrolled. The Commandant of the Garde had expected to eliminate many of these by a process of selection during the first few months of the course, but the students have maintained such a high standard in their work that it has been impossible without unfairness to reduce their number materially and forty-five cadets are still enrolled. They are mainly from the best Haitian families and they have shown an interest in their work and their willingness to submit themselves to discipline which has been exceedingly encouraging.
I. The Garde d’Haiti.
On page 25 of the report of the President’s Commission for the Study and Review of Conditions in the Republic of Haiti, the Department will find a table entitled “Summary of Plan for the Progressive Haitianization of the Garde d’Haiti”.55 General Williams informs me that he is now somewhat ahead of this plan and that he believes that it will prove possible to appoint Haitian officers during the next few years somewhat more rapidly than the plan contemplates. As the Department is aware, the Garde has also recently taken a most important step toward the imposition of responsibility on Haitian officers by placing under native control the entire Department of the Center. A Haitian Captain with the temporary rank of Major is in command of this Department, under the general supervision of the former American commanding officer who will live in Port-au-Prince and make weekly trips of inspection. Since entrusting an independent [Page 268] command to a Haitian officer is a much more radical experiment than merely promoting Haitians in organizations where they are constantly under the eye of an American superior, I believe that it will be advisable to watch the result of this experiment for a period before turning over other departments to complete Haitian contol.
II. The Office of the Financial Adviser-General Receiver.
The Financial Adviser states that further extensive Haitianization of his service is practically impossible if he is to perform the important duties placed upon his office by the Treaty. I am inclined to concur in this view. The Service is operated with Haitian employees except for a group of Americans who occupy key positions where any dishonesty or break-down in efficiency might mean a serious financial loss to the Government. The situation of the financial service is different from that of the other Treaty Services because of its special responsibility toward the foreign bond-holders and because the Service must continue in existence under the Protocol of 191956 and the loan contracts after the expiration of the Treaty. It would obviously be particularly unwise to undermine the efficiency of this service in the face of the present difficult economic situation.
There will, however, undoubtedly be an insistent demand by the Haitian public and probably by the Government, for the removal of the Internal Revenue Service from American control. The Haitianization of the Internal Revenue Service would be a calamity for Haiti because it would further reduce the Government’s now inadequate revenue and would probably prevent the ultimate abolition of the onerous export taxes which the new internal revenue taxes were intended to replace. On the other hand, from our own point of view, there would be obvious advantages in taking American Treaty officials altogether out of the business of collecting taxes from the people. To do so would remove one of the principal causes of ill feeling against the Treaty Services. I am not yet prepared to express a final opinion on this subject as a matter of policy.
There is, however, a legal side to the internal revenue question which should receive the Department’s consideration. It would appear that the United States Government could not relinquish the control of the internal revenues without violating obligations assumed toward the holders of Haiti’s bonds in the Protocol of 1919. It would be very helpful to have a study of this question made by the Solicitor’s Office in the near future and to have definite instructions from the Department on this particular phase of the internal revenue question for use when the Haitian Government brings it up.
The activity of the Financial Adviser’s Office which can best be given up if desired as a matter of policy is the administration of State [Page 269] lands. The reclaiming of State property for the Government and the collection of rents from tenants thereon has caused much friction and was the immediate occasion, though not the cause, of some of the unfortunate incidents which occurred last year. There are now reports that propaganda is being spread in the interior to induce State tenants to refuse to pay their rents and this propaganda if it becomes serious will involve the Internal Revenue Service and the Legation in further difficulties. I am inclined to believe that we may find it advisable to abandon this phase of the Financial Adviser’s work, even though such action will entail the loss of much property and considerable revenue and will thus be seriously harmful to the best interests of the Haitian Government.
III. The Public Works Service.
The Public Works Service has eight important departments or district offices as follows: Cape Haitien, Port de Paix, Gonaives, St. Marc, Petitgoave, Cayes, Jacmel, and Jeremie. All except those at Cayes, and Jeremie, are now under the administration of Haitian engineers. It will probably be possible to turn over the office at Cayes within three or four months. There is no Haitian engineer immediately available to take over the office at Jeremie, but one is being trained for this position.
At the main office at Port-au-Prince, the work is divided into eight services: irrigation, public buildings, telegraphs, roads, municipal engineering, shop supply and transport, cadastre, and general administration. Haitian engineers are now being trained to become the heads of these services and the first two above mentioned can probably be turned over in the very near future. If present plans can be carried out, two additional services will be placed under Haitian engineers in each year between now and 1933. The Engineer in Chief believes that it will be essential so long as we retain any responsibility for the administration of Public Works in Haiti to retain the eleven Naval engineers now detailed to his department, as they will all be necessary for purposes of supervision and control. The Service also employs a number of American civilians and it is this group that the Engineer in Chief plans to relieve as Haitianization progresses. There are at present eleven such American technical employees as compared with twenty-six in 1927. Three of the eleven will leave during the next few weeks and two or three others during the coming year.
IV. The Public Health Service.
The Haitianization of the Public Health Service has already proceeded somewhat farther than in the case of the other Services. The Republic is divided into ten sanitary districts of which four, at Port de Paix, St. Marc, Jeremie and Petitgoave, have already been placed under Haitian officials. The Hinche district will be Haitianized [Page 270] about January 1st. and the Jacmel district sometime during the coming year. Dr. Stuart hopes to turn over the districts of Gonaives and Cayes in 1932 or 1933, leaving under American control only the districts of Port-au-Prince and Cape Haitien, which in my opinion should not be turned over so long as we have any large number of American civilians and Marines in these two cities.
The personnel at the Headquarters at Port-au-Prince and at the Haitian General Hospital is already very largely Haitian. There are, however, six Americans in the former, including the division of supplies and transportation, and six at the hospital. Dr. Stuart believes that it will be possible by 1934 to relieve some of these.
The Director General of the Service is now training a Haitian physician in the administrative work at Headquarters with the view to fitting him to take over eventually the direction of the Service as a whole.
The Medical School is now directed by Haitian doctors.
I see little object in pushing very energetically the further Haitianization of this Service. It is the most popular of the Treaty Services and each American doctor who can be retained is a distinct gain to the community. So long as we have any considerable number of Americans in Haiti, proper medical attention will be essential to their safety and morale and proper attention cannot be assured unless at least the hospitals at Port-au-Prince and Cape Haitien and the sanitation of Port-au-Prince are under effective American control.
V. The Service Technique.
The Service Technique presents special problems which will require very careful study and full discussion with the Haitian Government. I am not prepared as yet to report on these problems in detail. I am, however, transmitting a chart prepared by Dr. Colvin showing his plan for the Haitianization of the Service. This plan may be altered by the reorganization which it will probably be necessary to effect.
The morale of the Americans in the Service Technique has been especially affected by the developments of the past year and the service has already lost approximately fifty percent of its American employees by resignation. Dr. Colvin expects that approximately twenty-five percent of the remainder will leave during the present year. It will be difficult to hold any of the better men who will have opportunities for employment elsewhere unless definite plans for the future of this service are formulated very soon.
It would be extremely unfortunate to discontinue entirely the work which this Service has been performing. Its activities in developing new products, including especially an excellent variety of long staple cotton, and in improving livestock are just beginning to show results and their abandonment would not only inflict a heavy [Page 271] loss upon the Haitian people but would make it appear that the United States Government had carried on expensive and unproductive experiments in Haiti, the futility of which it finally realized. I think that the Haitian Government will desire to continue much of this agricultural work.
I am more inclined to reduce the educational work of the Service Technique, not because it is not extremely necessary, but because there is less probability of achieving definite results during the life of the Treaty. Dr. Colvin and I have been discussiug the possibility of proposing to the Haitian Government the integration of the Service Technique Schools into the existing Haitian system with a measure of control by the Service Technique at least over the industrial and vocational end of the work. I think that we can go very far toward meeting the Haitian Government’s proposals with respect to the Service Technique as that portion of the memorandum of December 2, 1930,57 which deals with this Service was apparently somewhat more carefully and intelligently thought out than the other sections. The Haitian Government is apparently willing to employ a number of American experts under contract both in the agricultural and educational work, and I believe that this would afford the best possible basis for the continuance of American cooperation in these lines.
We shall of course have to insist that the Director General of the Service Technique be nominated by the President of the United States at least for the time being; and we should in my opinion insist that Dr. Colvin’s appointment to this position be confirmed if any definite steps are to be taken toward the reorganization and Haitianization of this service.
I have hardly supposed that the Department would wish to give serious detailed consideration to the Haitian Government’s memorandum of December 2nd. I believe that the Haitian Government would be surprised and perhaps dismayed if its proposals were accepted. The memorandum bears every evidence of having been prepared primarily with the view to the internal political situation in Haiti rather than as a serious indication of what the Haitian Government hopes to obtain. It is said that President Vincent now realizes that its presentation and especially the publication of its main features was a serious mistake, into which he was probably led by the radical members of his Cabinet.
The acceptance of the plan proposed by the memorandum would mean the destruction of virtually the whole organization which has been built up here by the Treaty Services. It must be remembered that the process of training Haitians to fill the higher positions in Treaty Services has only begun within the last few years. For some [Page 272] time after 1922, when the appointment of the High Commissioner58 and the inauguration of a policy of cooperation by the Borno Government made it possible for the Treaty Services to begin work effectively, they were rather fully occupied with the task of organization and with the execution of much needed concrete projects. Haitian engineers, doctors, etc., played an important part in the services from the first, but the training of Haitian personnel was subordinated to the development work which was obviously more urgent.
On June 11, 1928, the High Commissioner issued an order instructing the Treaty Services to devote more care to the training and indoctrination of Haitian personnel and to the development of understudies for each position held by an American. “All organizations under the supervision of Treaty Officials”, the High Commissioner said, “are now well organized and consequently they are able to turn their attention to this very important duty in connection with the rehabilitation of Haiti, in order that, during the remaining eight years, intensive work of this nature may be carried on; and when the American aid is withdrawn by reason of the expiration of the Treaty, the various departments will continue to function in a high state of efficiency”. This order, it will be noted, was issued some eighteen months before the visit of the Forbes Commission. Much has already been accomplished in selecting and training Haitian personnel, but I am convinced from what I have seen thus far that the five years still remaining before the expiration of the Treaty will be none too long a period for the completion of this phase of the Treaty Services’ work. It is believed that the plan outlined in the body of this despatch, if carried out with a reasonable amount of cooperation by the Haitian Government, would make it possible to leave in Haiti a group of public services which might be able to function with a fair degree of efficiency after 1936, provided that they were not broken down by politics. It appears to me that the major problem of our policy in Haiti from now on is so to develop the Treaty Services that the magnificent constructive work already accomplished will not be wholly lost and repudiated. I believe from what I have already seen that President Vincent will be prepared to work with us to this end, if we follow a firm and consistent policy during the next six years, but that he and the moderate element among his supporters will be swept off their feet by the radical nationalist faction if the latter are able to influence the policy of the United States Government by a program of criticism and complaint.
One of the principal obstacles to the efficient functioning of the Treaty Services is the very low morale of the personnel. This is especially true of the Americans. They feel that they have been unjustly criticized during the past year by persons who have not been willing to take either the time or the trouble to give fair consideration [Page 273] to the real facts of the case and that the notable achievements which the Treaty Services have realized are not only not appreciated but are likely to be sacrificed to considerations of expediency. The doubt as to the continued tenure of their positions has also lowered their efficiency and caused them to lose interest in their work. One of the most pressing necessities here at present is to adopt a definite program which will make it possible, particularly in the case of the civilian Treaty Officials, to give them some assurance that their services with the Haitian Government will continue for a more or less definite length of time.
I have not considered it advisable to request instructions from the Department on the general question of Haitianization until I had carried my own study of the problem somewhat farther and until I had ascertained more definitely what the Haitian Government really desires. I considered it inadvisable, however, to postpone indefinitely the making of any response to the Government’s memorandum of December 2nd. On December 20, 1930, therefore, I addressed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs a personal and confidential letter outlining the present tentative plans of the Treaty Services in order that the Government might have something in writing to serve as a basis for further discussion. A copy of this letter is transmitted herewith.
I believe that the Haitian Government has in mind the signature of some form of protocol or agreement for the Haitianization of the Treaty Services. I should be very reluctant to advise the acceptance by the United States Government of any definite and inflexible commitments regarding the appointment of Haitians to specific positions at a given time. It may, however, appear advisable after further discussion to enter into some form of written agreement on the subject in order to enable the Government to demonstrate that it has actually carried out a part of the program upon which the Nationalists came into power. This is a matter for future consideration.
- Not printed.↩
- Reference is to text of report printed by the Department of State as Latin American Series No. 2. The tables annexed to the report are not included with the text printed ante, p. 217.↩
- Foreign Relations, 1919, vol. ii, p. 347.↩
- Ante, p. 263.↩
- See Foreign Relations, 1922, vol. ii, pp. 461 ff.↩