838.105/377: Telegram

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

69. Department’s 43, June 23 [22], 6 p.m. The Haitian Government’s proposal reported in my telegram 61,33 was that American officials should be withdrawn from the Public Works, Public Health Service, and the Agricultural Services, on October 1st with indemnification. The proposal apparently does not imply any agreement at present regarding the Financial Services and it stipulates that the Haitian Government would reserve the right to discuss further the plans for the Haitianization of the Garde. This latter stipulation was what paragraph numbered 1 in my 61 referred to. Do I understand that the Department would be disposed to accept such an arrangement, particularly with reference to October 1st as the date of [Page 487] withdrawal? Also is the arrangement outlined in my telegram 68, June 23, 11 a.m. satisfactory?

In view of the emphatic oral instructions about the Garde which I received from the Secretary of State personally last April, it seems to me my duty to make it clear that the Aarons case involves far more than the Department appears to realize. It is not a question of my feelings. Every officer of the Garde regards this as a test case to determine whether we can protect Haitian officers in carrying out the orders of their American superiors or whether they will be compelled in order to obtain promotion to yield to political pressure in such matters as the appointment of rural police by sub-district commanders, the making of arrests, and the assurance of immunity to offenders who have political influence. The question is especially important because it will be difficult under any conditions to keep the Garde out of politics as next January’s elections approach. It will not be solved by any assurances which we may obtain for the future, for experience has clearly shown that the Haitian Government’s promises are of little value unless we are in a position to enforce compliance with them. Furthermore, such assurances would do nothing to counteract the effect upon other Garde officers. I do not like to appear importunate but both General Williams and I are convinced that failure to give proper protection to Haitian Garde officers would make it almost impossible for the American officers to discharge properly their responsibilities.

It has always been customary in the Garde to give officers temporary appointments, pending the issue of commissioning, and to pay them from the date of such appointments. In the case of Haitian officers, this has been a part of the Haitianization program since it has been considered advisable to try out an officer in a given rank before recommending him for a permanent commission. Aarons is now a temporary captain. If the deadlock in the matter should continue, we might be compelled to operate the Garde partly with officers holding such commissions, but this would not make any very serious change in the situation now existing. Furthermore, regardless of any assurances which the Haitian Government might give us I feel certain that we would increase the probability of being placed in this same position at some time in the future if we do not take a firm stand now.

[Paraphrase.] The Haitianization program I intended to recommend in case the Haitianization negotiations broke down did not imply the establishment of any such military control as the Department feared. I intended to make a friendly statement expressing our regret that it had been impossible to reach an agreement with the Government of Haiti and to outline definite Haitianization measures which we would at once adopt, as follows: Haitianization of the Garde d’Haiti slightly more rapidly than recommended in the Forbes [Page 488] plan; on January 1, 1932, Haitianization of the Public Works Service with the appointment of Haitian engineers to most of the administrative positions at once; Haitianization by January 1 of the district offices of the Sanitary Service; Haitianization of the Service Technique not later than July 1, 1932, with the immediate surrender of all educational work; further, that we are ready to accept substantial changes in the Financial Services when we could reach an agreement with the Government of Haiti which would safeguard the rights of the bondholders; and that we should Haitianize all other activities of the Public Health Service upon making an agreement for American sanitary control in Cape Haitien and Port au Prince.

This plan would not only leave the door open for negotiations but would almost compel the Government of Haiti to continue negotiations. At the same time it would allay suspicion and anxiety on the part of public opinion in Haiti. Likewise it would protect the interests of Americans in the Service Technique and we could always offer to withdraw these Americans sooner upon making an agreement regarding indemnification. This plan would not settle the Colvin case. I think, unless we could reach a separate agreement about the Colvin case, that the Department should consider the possibility of instructing the Financial Adviser to pay Colvin his back salary on the ground that Colvin had been duly nominated by the President of the United States of America and had performed the duties of Director General since July 1, 1930. This procedure, I think, would be more satisfactory from our point of view than an acceptance of the proposal of the Government of Haiti as outlined in the first paragraph of this telegram, if the latter should involve a weakening of our position with regard to the Garde d’Haiti. [End paraphrase.]

  1. Dated June 18, 10 a.m., p. 481.