The Minister in Haiti ( Munro ) to the Secretary of State
[Received April 13.]
Sir: I have the honor to refer to my despatch No. 73 of February 26, 1931, and to report that my conversations with the Minister for Foreign Affairs regarding the Haitianization of the Treaty Services have continued since that date. I feel that we have made fair progress toward a final accord although the discussions have repeatedly been interrupted by other troublesome questions arising between the Government and the Treaty Services. These questions, which have for the most part been provoked by the Secretary of State for Finance and for Public Works, Mr. Thoby, have not only caused us to lose much valuable time, but have also tended to create an atmosphere unfavorable to a frank and friendly discussion of the general problems of the Treaty Services. Nevertheless, Mr. Sannon and I have reached a tentative agreement regarding the Public Works and Public Health Services and have thoroughly discussed the problems of the Financial Services and the Garde. I have been hoping, before the receipt of the Department’s recent instructions, that it would be possible to conclude the entire agreement early in the present month.[Page 442]
In the Public Works, Mr. Sannon finally accepted the program suggested by the Engineer in Chief with regard to the Services at Headquarters in Port-au-Prince. Under this program, Haitian engineers would be appointed directors of irrigation and public buildings immediately; of telegraphs and telephones and of roads during 1931; and of municipal engineering, shops supply and transportation, and cadastre, during 1932. Haitian engineers would also be placed in chargé immediately in all districts and departments, with the possible exception of Jérémie.
The question of the American inspectors resident near the departmental offices caused much difficulty. Mr. Sannon insisted that there would be no real Haitianization of the Service so long as these inspectors continued to reside in their districts and to exercise a virtually complete control over every action of the Haitian engineers. I could not but feel that there was much force in his arguments and that a continued insistence upon maintaining so close a supervision over the Haitian engineers in the field was unnecessary in view of the rapidity with which we have contemplated Haitianizing the whole Service. After several discussions with the Engineer in Chief, the latter said that he would feel justified in withdrawing the inspectors to Port-au-Prince, provided that he were relieved of personal responsibility for their management of funds. It was a little difficult to find a formula on this point which was not objectionable to the Haitian Government, but I finally proposed a statement reading as follows, which Mr. Sannon indicated his readiness to accept:
“While the Engineer in Chief shall continue to exercise the authority conferred upon him by existing laws and agreements to supervise and control the Public Works Service, it is the intention of the two Governments that the Haitian Departmental and District Engineers should be responsible for the execution of the work confided to them by the Engineer in Chief so far as is compatible with the latter’s general supervisory authority. To this end the Departmental and District Engineers shall be personally responsible for the expenditure of funds entrusted to them and the Engineer in Chief while retaining full authority to examine their accounts and to take such steps regarding those accounts as he may deem necessary for the proper administration of the Service, shall not be personally responsible for the correctness of expenditures made under their direction”.
I informed Mr. Sannon that an arrangement of this nature would make it possible to withdraw the inspectors not later than the end of this calendar year. The Engineer in Chief will, therefore, of course continue to make such inspections as he deems proper through inspectors sent out from the main office at Port-au-Prince.
During the conversations, Mr. Sannon again raised the question of the non-commissioned American employees, the legality of whose presence in the Public Works organization has never been admitted [Page 443] by Mr. Thoby. I informed Mr. Sannon that five of these employees, out of eleven who had been on the rolls last November, had already left, and that the other six would leave as the requirements of the Service permitted. I said, however, that I was very much indisposed to enter into any discussion with him on the question of these employees because of the way in which it had originally been brought up by Mr. Thoby and because I had understood that the question had been satisfactorily settled in our informal discussions last December when I had informed him that five of the employees were to be dismissed. I pointed out that it would have been easy to settle the matter by friendly discussion in the first place, but that a peremptory order couched in objectionable language to dismiss a large number of essential American employees in one of the Treaty Services was not the way to bring about Haitianization. Mr. Sannon dropped the matter for the time being but stated that he would return to it later. While I have considered it advisable under present circumstances to assume a somewhat unsympathetic attitude on this point, I think that we shall be able to eliminate several more of these non-commissioned employees before very long and subsequently to reach a satisfactory understanding with the Government regarding the remainder.
In discussing the Public Health Service, Mr. Sannon showed a rather surprising lack of interest in any real measure of Haitianization. I was able to accede to his proposal that Haitian assistants be appointed not only in the general administration and in the Haitian General Hospital, but also in the health center and the sanitary office at Port-au-Prince and the insane asylum at Pont Beudet. With the acceptance of this proposal, which will enable the Government to say that Haitian doctors are being trained to assume all of the principal positions now occupied by Americans, Mr. Sannon seemed entirely willing to follow the ideas of the Director General of the Public Health Service regarding the appointment of Haitian doctors in the provinces and particularly to leave American doctors in chargé of Gonaïves and Cayes until the sanitation projects in those cities are completed. The Public Health Service is the object of very little criticism and its work is in general highly appreciated. Furthermore, there is apparently little desire on the part of Haitian doctors to obtain positions in the provinces so that the political considerations, which impel the Government to seek to obtain full control of the Treaty Services, are not quite so evident.
In connection with the Financial Service, Mr. Sannon was profoundly disappointed that it was not possible for him to obtain any concrete agreement regarding the process of Haitianization. I told him that I could accept his proposal to separate the land title registry from the Bureau of Contributions, but that I could not assume any [Page 444] engagement whatever regarding the replacement of Americans by Haitians in specific positions in the Customs Service and the Internal Revenue Service. When Mr. Sannon advanced legal arguments to show that the Internal Revenue Service was in an entirely different position from the Customs Service and that the Government was under no obligation to accept American control in the Internal Revenues, I pointed out that this was a matter which would entail long study and discussion and that it would be better in the interest of an early agreement on other points to leave it until we took up the special accord regarding the study of the Financial Service after 1936. Mr. Sannon said that this might be acceptable provided that there was some assurance that the special accord would be concluded in the very near future and also that further measures of Haitianization in the Financial Service would be considered when the special accord was drawn up. He, therefore, proposed the following formula, which I submitted to the Department by cable on March 11, 1931:
“In order to assure the service of the interest and amortization of the loan of $40,000,000. issued in series, the high contracting parties declare themselves ready to conclude (insert here a period of time) a special accord on the basis of Article 8 of the Protocol of October 3, 1919. They agree to Haitianize by the same accord those services under the Financial Adviser-General Receiver which shall not have been Haitianized by the present general accord”.
In connection with this formula, I pointed out to him that we could not in any event consider the immediate Haitianization of any great number of the activities of the Financial Adviser-General Receiver, or the complete Haitianization of the Service at any time before the final payment of the bonds. He said that he fully understood this, but that the point which he wished to make was that the office of the Financial Adviser-General Receiver as constituted by the Treaty would cease to exist in May 1936, and that any new organization which might be created by the special accord would have different and restricted functions so that the functions of the present office should be Haitianized in the meantime. I made it clear that I thought that the functions of the new office might not be so restricted as he thought, but said that I saw no objection to contemplating the gradual Haitianization of any activities of the Financial Adviser-General Receiver which would not be carried on under the new office. As I informed the Department in the cable referred to, I felt that the language of Mr. Sannon’s formula would require modification but I transmitted it as made by him in the hope that the Department would draft an acceptable counter-proposal.
Mr. Sannon was very insistent that the Government must have something to announce in connection with the Haitianization of the Financial Service. He said that it would materially assist the Government [Page 445] in presenting the Haitianization accord to the public if we could at least agree to the commissioning of the customs personnel. He pointed out that the American High Commissioner in 1924 had formally requested Presidential commissions for all of the principal employees of the Customs Service, both American and Haitian, and that commissions had been issued. There were, however, a number of employees at present who had been appointed since that date and who had not received commissions and the Government felt that the appointment of these employees without reference to it was an irregular procedure.
Upon looking into the matter, I found that the commissions issued in 1924 had never been delivered to the employees because their form was considered unsatisfactory. The Financial Adviser-General Receiver has continued since that time to appoint and remove all employees except the Deputy General Receiver without reference to other authority. After discussion with Mr. de la Rue, I informed Mr. Sannon that I would submit the following formula to the Department provided that it was acceptable to him. He said that he would accept it:
“The President of Haiti will issue commissions to Haitian employees occupying positions of authority and trust in the Customs Service upon the recommendation of the General Receiver. The form of these commissions will be agreed upon by the Minister of Finance and the General Receiver. If the service of a commissioned employee should not be satisfactory or if his removal should be deemed necessary for other reasons, the General Receiver will terminate his services and will at the same time recommend such action as he considers advisable regarding his replacement, making a temporary appointment if necessary until a new commission is issued”.
Mr. Sannon has frequently inquired whether I had received replies to the cables in which I submitted the above proposal and the proposal regarding the special accord for the Department’s consideration. I have found it increasingly difficult to give him satisfactory replies and I fear that the Haitian Government may at any time avail itself of this delay as a pretext to inform the public that the Department is delaying the Haitianization negotiations. There has been much bitter criticism already regarding the length of time which has elapsed between the inauguration of the new Government and the conclusion of an accord regarding Haitianization, and the Government has continually sought in self defense to throw the blame for the delay on our shoulders. I should not take the matter seriously except for the fact that there is a spirit of uneasiness and distrust among the people as a whole, which has been greatly aggravated by the failure to announce a definite plan of Haitianization and which may at any time find expression in more or less violent popular demonstration against our continued occupation of Haiti.[Page 446]
Mr. Sannon and I are at present discussing the plan for the Haitianization of the Garde. This subject has been made somewhat more difficult by the fact that President Vincent himself, who has taken a great interest in the Haitianization of the Garde, had personally presented a counter-project providing for complete Haitianization by 1934. A translation of this counter-project and a copy of the report of a special board convened by the Commandant of the Garde to study it, are transmitted herewith.28
Before undertaking to discuss any particular project, I spoke very seriously to the Minister for Foreign Affairs about the conditions which have threatened to affect the morale and efficiency of the Garde since the inauguration of the new administration. I pointed out that any plan which might be agreed upon would represent a minimum of the Haitianization which we proposed to effect, but that every effort would be made to run ahead of the plan provided that the conditions surrounding the Garde made it possible to do so with safety. I said, however, that the criticism of the Garde emanating from high officials of the Government, the attitude of the Minister of Justice in seeking to hamper the Garde in its right to make arrests, and the sharp decrease in the percentage of convictions in the local courts, had all tended to discourage the Garde in the performance of its duty and to affect its morale and efficiency to an extent which made it very difficult to train and promote Haitian officers. I pointed out that the first requisite was to maintain the Garde in such condition that there could be no danger that the Marine Brigade would be called upon to assist in maintaining order, and that I was not prepared to consider any program of Haitianization which might produce such a danger or which might cause the withdrawal of the Marine Brigade to be delayed. There appears to have been a marked improvement in the attitude of the Haitian authorities toward the Garde since this conversation.
We have recently been discussing in detail the plan prepared by the Commandant of the Garde and submitted by the Legation. I have endeavored to impress upon Mr. Sannon by reference to individual cases the impossibility of promoting officers with sufficient rapidity to carry out a more rapid Haitianization. I believe that he is personally convinced at the present time that the plan submitted to us should be, or at least will have to be, accepted.
Mr. Sannon said that the Government would find it very difficult under any conditions to accept a table which showed that thirty-four American officers would not be dropped until the very day of the expiration of the Treaty. I proposed, therefore, that we prepare a plan which would show the rate of Haitianization up to January 1, [Page 447] 1935, with a general statement that American officers still remaining in the Garde would be replaced as rapidly as possible after that date and at any event before the expiration of the Treaty. I also submitted a draft of agreement which shows the process of Haitianization in somewhat clearer form than the tables which we have hitherto been discussing, as the latter proved extremely difficult to deal with. A copy of this draft is transmitted herewith. It will be noted that it contains slight changes from the table in the Forbes report, since the Haitianization of the Garde has been proceeding in the meantime more rapidly than the Forbes report contemplated. I may say that I have not considered it advisable, in view of the fact that the time remaining before 1936 will be rather too short in any event for the proper training of the Haitian officers, to delay the Haitianization of the Garde pending the discussion of the agreement.
The negotiations above referred to have consumed a very great amount of time. We have wasted hours discussing points of minor importance and it has often taken several days of argument to convince the Government that concessions on more important points were impossible. I think that Mr. Sannon and the President are on the whole disposed to accept the program which we have proposed, but their failure to obtain more sweeping and immediate changes has unquestionably been a disappointment to the more ardent Nationalists and to public opinion as a whole.