838.15/253: Telegram

The Minister in Haiti (Munro) to the Secretary of State


9. I have come to the conclusion that under present conditions it would be advisable to Haitianize almost completely the Public Works Service, to withdraw all our commissioned engineers and to leave at most only two or three Americans under contract for technical assistance in such activities as road maintenance and operation of telegraphs and telephones. The Engineer-in-Chief concurs in this with me. Under present financial conditions there is no probability that there will be any funds for several years for construction projects, and I do not believe that we would be justified in maintaining our present large organization solely for maintenance work. It is Commander Duncan’s [Page 415] opinion that the Haitian engineers whom he has trained are as able now to direct such work as they ever will be. Commander Duncan feels, however, that as long as he is responsible for the service he cannot reduce his present American staff, for it would be impossible to prevent the inefficiency and graft which would inevitably appear as soon as the Haitians were given more responsibility and authority without very full and complete supervision. From the attitude of the present administration it appears clear that so long as we maintain the present organization the Public Works Service will be subject to increasingly bitter attacks and obstruction and its usefulness will be greatly diminished from now on. If the Department approves, I hope that it will authorize me to work out the details of the above recommendation and take the same up with the Government at such time as I deem most appropriate. This is a delicate matter unless carefully handled, for if we grant a far reaching concession of this kind, it will encourage the Government and press to a similar campaign of obstruction against the other treaty services. It is also urgent because long delay may permit the development of a situation where any acceleration in the Haitianization of this service might involve serious loss of prestige.