838.00/2938: Telegram

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

22. Department’s telegram No. 14, March 18th, 1931. From the standpoint of local conditions here there are several objections to proposing a new treaty which would extend the present financial control while providing for a more rapid turnover of the other treaty services.

The extension of the financial control in the form now exercised would be bitterly opposed in Haiti and a proposal to this effect at this time might create an exceedingly disagreeable and even dangerous situation. When Congress meets there will probably be a violent attack on the Government for failing to repudiate the treaty and to demand immediate withdrawal of all Americans. This attack which will be purely political in its nature, and inspired by persons who hope to profit if the present Government should be forced out of office, will be much more effective if we provide the Government’s enemies with a new issue. The present administration on the whole has shown a more reasonable disposition than we could expect from any other group which might come into power under present conditions, but the comparatively satisfactory working relations which we have built up with it would be destroyed and the Government itself would be compelled to change its policy, if we came forward now with a proposal for an indefinite extension of the present financial control.

The control as now exercised goes much farther in my opinion than will be necessary adequately to protect the interest of the bondholders after 1936. Under the present organization the Financial Adviser [Page 429] controls all activities of the Haitian Government to an extent which will be unjustifiable and undesirable when we have ceased to control the other treaty services and which will be extremely offensive to Haitian national sentiment. I am personally convinced that it is advisable from our point of view that the powers of this office should be greatly restricted after 1936 and I had been planning to discuss this matter in detail personally with the Department when I go on [leave?] next summer. The Haitian Government has already recognized its obligation to accept a sufficient control to protect the interest of the bondholders and I think that an agreement for this purpose can be worked out after the Haitianization program is disposed of and after Congress is out of the way. My experience in dealing with the Haitian Government, however, convinces me that it will be easier to work out this agreement on the basis of the rights granted by the treaty and the protocol than on the basis of a bargain regarding further Haitianization.

With respect to the other services I am entirely in accord with the Department’s views that we should retain no responsibility after we have given up effective control and that we should give up both responsibility and control as early as practicable. I think, however, that we owe it to ourselves as well as to Haiti to turn over the services as efficient working organizations and under such conditions as to afford a maximum probability that they will continue to [function?] satisfactorily. This means that the process of Haitianization must be carefully worked out and also that the problem must be dealt with as a whole, avoiding action in one service which might cause us embarrassment in connection with another.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and I, after months of very difficult negotiations, have finally practically completed an accord for the Haitianization of the treaty services which will, I believe, be satisfactory to the Department and which is on the whole satisfactory to the Haitian Government except with regard to the financial services and the Garde where substantial concessions on our part are not now possible. I hope that this accord will be ready for signature in the very near future and I feel that it will settle most of the outstanding problems except those relating to finances. It even seems probable that the Government will make no serious difficulty about the appointment of Colvin provided that no untoward incidents disturb the very satisfactory progress which we have been making. I fear that a proposal such as the Department has in mind would undo most of what we have already accomplished without improving our prospects for the future.

Both the Haitianization question and the question of future financial control can best be dealt with, it seems to me, by executive agreements which will not precipitate a new controversial discussion of the [Page 430] Haitian question in the Haitian Congress and the United States Senate. It would be extremely difficult to obtain ratifications of a new convention by the Haitian Congress.

There are several considerations which have made it seem inadvisable to propose at this time the more rapid Haitianization of the Public Works, Public Health Service, and Agriculture Services. In the first place, it will be necessary in the new budget greatly to reduce the appropriations for these services. If we do this before further Haitianization, there will probably be little difficulty with the Government or the Congress, but if we are compelled to insist upon the great reduction of expenditures in these services after they have been turned over to Haitian control there will be much opposition and we shall be accused of withholding financial support in order to wreck the services and demonstrate that they cannot operate under Haitian control. I had intended, therefore, to postpone measures of Haitianization in favor of the plan already tentatively agreed upon until after the budget for next year had been decided upon.

In the Public Health Service, there are some sanitary projects at Gonaïves and Cayes which ought, if possible, [to] be completed before Haitianization. We must also consider the necessity for maintaining proper sanitary conditions in Port au Prince so long as we have any large number of Americans here. These considerations have made me reluctant to push Haitianization of the Public Health Service, particularly as the Haitian Government has shown no disposition to urge a rapid Haitianization.

In the Service Technique, I think that we should keep several agricultural experts if the Haitian Government wishes their help in a program for increased production. We have a heavy responsibility for aiding the Haitian people in their present desperate economic conditions and I have had a committee of treaty officials working to devise a practical plan to be proposed to the Haitian Government in the near future. I think that the Government may be glad to accept this plan and to avail itself of the agricultural experts for execution.

The Public Works Service as I have already reported can be Haitianized almost completely in the very near future. If, however, we withdraw the Americans from the service at a time when the service is under fire we should find it exceedingly difficult to maintain that authority in any of the other treaty services. After the Haitianization plan has been worked out and finally agreed upon and after the question of the budget has been disposed of it will be possible to announce further measures of Haitianization in the Public Works Service, not as something which has been forced upon us by criticism and obstruction but rather as a demonstration of our purpose to turn over all of the treaty services as rapidly as our responsibility to the Haitians themselves permits.

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I feel in short that we are making satisfactory progress now toward the solution of this exceedingly complex and difficult problem and that a change in our general policy would do more harm than good. I hope that the Department will take into consideration in dealing with the matter that there are very numerous factors, personal, political and temperamental, which enter into this problem which cannot possibly be brought out hereabove but which have influenced me in forming the considered opinions above expressed.