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

No. 381

Sir: With reference to my telegram No. 42 of April 6th. 10 A.M., I have the honor to transmit herewith a copy and translation of a note from the Minister of Foreign Affairs proposing an agreement regarding the further Haitianization of the Garde, the establishment of a Military Mission, and the early withdrawal of the Marine Brigade and the American Scientific Mission. This note, which is dated March 31, was not received at the Legation until just before the close of business on April 5th.

As stated in my telegram above referred to, the note was probably submitted partly for the purpose of enabling the Government to inform Congress that it was still taking active steps to bring about the [Page 630] Haitianization of the Garde and the withdrawal of the Marine Brigade. I believe, however, that the note also represents a genuine effort to deal with the difficult problem of maintaining political stability in Haiti after the expiration of the Treaty with the United States. Several times during the past year, the present Minister of Foreign Affairs has indicated to me in informal conversation that the Haitian Government would probably desire the assistance of an American Military Mission in the difficult situation which will confront it when the Marine Brigade is withdrawn and the Garde is left entirely under Haitian officers. He has pointed out that a military mission could be arranged for now without serious political repercussions since the Government could defend it as a step toward the more rapid Haitianization of the Garde, whereas a proposal for a Mission would encounter more active hostility if made just before the expiration of the Treaty. In desiring to establish such a Mission and to make an agreement for this purpose at the present time, Mr. Leger doubtless represents the point of view of the more serious and substantial element among the Haitian elite, who look forward with misgivings to the possible reestablishment in Haiti of a Government dominated by military force.

In my opinion, it would be desirable to establish a Military Mission here if a satisfactory agreement to this end can be worked out. Such a mission, with proper personnel and adequate powers, could probably maintain a reasonable amount of efficiency and discipline in the Garde, and could prevent conflicts between officers of that organization and between the Garde and the Haitian Government. These conflicts are otherwise almost certain to occur, and with disastrous results. I am convinced that no other practicable plan would offer so much hope of preserving to Haiti at least a part of the benefits realized from the American Occupation and of diminishing the danger of the Republic’s reverting to a situation where another intervention could not be avoided.

Without continued outside influence in some such form, several very serious dangers will confront this country after the complete Haitianization of the Garde. For one thing, the control of the Garde by American Officers and the policy necessarily followed to prevent improper political interference in its activities, have created a rather dangerous feeling that the Garde is independent of the other branches of the Haitian Government. This will militate against a harmonious working under the civil authorities, particularly when questions arise, as they inevitably will, about the supply and use of funds and the making of promotions and appointments. There is already evident in the Garde a feeling of distrust about the treatment which the [Page 631] organization will receive from the Government and an inclination to contemplate the possibility of the Garde’s having to take matters in its own hands if difficulties arise. The vicious example across the border in Santo Domingo has naturally had its effect. The Government is fully aware of the danger inherent in this situation, and the plan now submitted, like the more elaborate and entirely impracticable plan drawn up by the President himself last year, represents a serious effort to deal with this problem.

I have hitherto not considered it advisable to assume any very definite obligations regarding the early Haitianization of the Garde because it was impossible in the early stages of Haitianization to foresee how the Haitian officers would acquit themselves when placed in positions of responsibility and in general how the plan upon which the Garde was working would result in practice. The results of the policy carried out during the past two years, however, have been sufficiently satisfactory to make it possible to formulate more definite plans and to assume more definite commitments than has hitherto been advisable. Several of the senior Haitian officers have proved their ability and a good supply of younger officers has been made available through the successful operation of the Ecole Militaire. The tables16 which I am transmitting herewith show that the process of Haitianization, particularly in the higher grades, is substantially ahead of that set forth in the plan published by the Forbes Commission.17 Postponing the withdrawal of American officers until the end of 1935 instead of the end of 1934 would provide one additional year of training under foreign direction, but the advantages derived from this training would be very much more than offset by the advantages which could be derived from a Military Mission.

In the opinion of all of the American officials here, it would be preferable not to withdraw the Marine Brigade until the process of Haitianization has been completed and the Military Mission has assumed its duties. While I believe that the Garde, even when more completely Haitianized than at present could handle any situation likely to arise in Haiti, the presence of the Brigade creates an atmosphere of confidence and stability which is very helpful from every point of view. Furthermore, we cannot be sure that the present political tranquility will continue indefinitely, particularly if the economic situation remains as bad as it is now; and such an event, for example, as the assassination of the President would put a severe strain on the Garde’s ability to control the situation without the moral support of a foreign military force. It seems to me extremely important [Page 632] that the final stages in the training and Haitianization of the Garde, upon the success of which the future political stability of the Republic depends, should be carried out under the best obtainable conditions. There is very little real desire among responsible people in Haiti for the immediate withdrawal of the Brigade, although no Haitian would dare to admit publicly that he desired it to remain indefinitely. The officials of the Haitian Government rather frankly indicate that while they are compelled for political reasons to talk as though they desired the withdrawal of the Brigade at a relatively early date, they nevertheless would not consider an immediate withdrawal advisable.

With this introduction, the following comment and recommendations upon the individual articles of the proposed modus operandi is submitted:

Respectfully yours,

Dana G. Munro

The Haitian Minister for Foreign Affairs (Leger) to the American Minister (Munro)

Mr. Minister: In its report to President Hoover dated March 26, 1930,18 the Forbes Commission recommended, as you are aware, a rapid Haitianization of all the services directed by American officials and a gradual withdrawal of the Marines in accordance with an arrangement to be effected between our two Governments.

The Accord of August 5, 1931, turning over the services of Public Works, Hygiene, Agriculture and Registration, abolishing the supplementary agreements which were irritating to our national sovereignty, withdrawing martial law and promising that the Government of the United States would continue the discussions and understandings with reference to the other problems arising from the Treaty of 1915, received the approbation of the great majority of the people.

The Department of State would render a great service to the maintenance of the friendship of our two countries, a friendship so lively and cordial before the intervention of 1915, by continuing to follow the suggestions of the Presidential Commission, by pursuing with us the conversations which have been undertaken in such a reassuring atmosphere and by aiding us to place the relations of our two countries [Page 633] on a normal status, thus dissipating any misunderstandings and avoiding the irritating discussions and the frictions inherent therein.

Since October 21, 1931, regardless of the difficulties encountered, the financial services of the Treaty in liquidation, have been the object of the positive projects now under discussion.

It would be equally desirable to establish a practical basis for our exchange of views on the Garde d’Haïti and the problem of military disoccupation.

With regard to this latter problem, I grant that on March 26, 1930, the Forbes report had not suggested an immediate withdrawal, but rather recommended a gradual withdrawal, in accordance with an understanding to be effected between the two Governments. But two years have passed by and we have not seen either an immediate or a gradual withdrawal.

Your Excellency’s Government perhaps hesitated to make an early decision because of the events in prospect, such as the general elections of October 14, 1930, and January 10, 1932, periods usually marked by disorder, agitation and excitement in all countries. But these events took place here on two occasions in an atmosphere of calm and order which might be envied by more advanced democracies, showing the great wisdom of our political parties and revealing the profound sense of order of our population. This experience is behind us and the President of the Republic, after having advised the Government of the United States of its intention via diplomatic channels, at a ceremony held in your presence and before the Army, recently decorated General Williams, the Commandant of the Garde, with the Military Medal, in recognition of these memorable periods of peace, tranquillity and wisdom.

We believe that the moment has come, where in all safety we can envisage a mutually satisfactory accord concerning the Garde d’Haïti and the withdrawal of the expeditionary forces.

I therefore have the honor for these purposes to request Your Excellency to find herewith a project of a Modus-Operandi which the Government of the Republic proposes.

Please accept [etc.]

A. N. Leger

“Modus Operandi” Relating to the Garde d’Hdïti and the Withdrawal of the Military Occupation

The undersigned plenipotentiaries, duly authorized, have agreed to the following:

  • Article I. The American officers who are now serving in the Garde [Page 634] d’Haïti will be replaced as rapidly as possible by Haitian officers, in such a manner that by December 31, 1934, the said Garde shall be completely commanded by Haitian officers.
  • The present clause does not prejudice in any way the faculty of the high contracting parties, should the question arise in the interval to reach an agreement for the outright cancellation of Article X of the Treaty of September 16, 1915, in liquidation.
  • Article II. In order to attain the above ends it is agreed that an intensive training will be carried on so that by December 31, 1932, the program for the promotion of Haitian officers provided in the report of the Forbes Commission for the end of the year 1934 or 35 will have been carried out.
  • Article III. At the latest, on December 31, 1934, the completely haitianized Garde will be turned over to the officer whom the President of the Republic shall designate as Commandant.
  • Article IV. If the necessity therefore should arise the Haitian Government reserves the right to employ, through the good offices of the interested Government, a Military Mission which will be charged with the completion in a specific time of the instruction and discipline of the Garde and to give to this Mission the powers recognized as necessary for these objects.
  • Article V. The Department of the South will be completely haitianized at the latest on . . . . . 1932; the district of the Palace at the latest on . . . . . 1932; the Department of the North at the latest on December 31, 1933; and the Department of the West at the latest on December 31, 1934. (Note: Presumably the “Department of the West” should be the “Department of Port au Prince,” as the former Department has already been Haitianized).
  • Article VI. The promotions to be effected during the course of the haitianization of the Garde will be carried out in the presence of the representative of the Government of Haiti in conformity with Article X of the Treaty in liquidation.
  • Article VII. In the event of the execution of Article I, second paragraph, the stipulations of Articles II, III, V and VI of the present arrangement will be without effect.
  • Article VIII. The expeditionary forces of the United States will be withdrawn from Haitian territory after December 31, 1932.
  • Article IX. In recompense for the arms, ammunition and depots which were destroyed by the expeditionary forces of the United States of America after 1915 and the buildings and barracks belonging to the State occupied without charge by the said forces since that time and furthermore, considering the need for the authorities to assure the maintenance of order in the country, the Government of the United [Page 635] States agrees as compensation to leave to the Haitian Government upon withdrawal of its troops: 1, a quantity of supplies and arms in good condition equal to that now possessed by the Garde in accordance with an inventory to be drawn up in the presence of both parties, 2, three military airplanes, 3, the buildings and installations erected by the expeditionary forces.
  • Article X. The Government of Haiti will furthermore have the right to buy, in accordance with prices and conditions to be agreed upon, all supplies and armaments which might be necessary for its security.
  • Article XI. The American Scientific Mission established by the Accord of August 5, 1931 will automatically cease to function at the latest on August 5, 1933.
  • Article XII. The Government of the United States agrees that the Expeditionary forces of the United States will lend their good offices to the Government of Haiti, from the present time and without prejudice to Article VIII above, for the purpose of preparing Haitian officers in the aviation branch.
  • Article XIII. The Government of Haiti, in order to maintain the public order and peace necessary for the regular collection of the revenues pledged for the service of the loan, assumes the obligation of maintaining a strict discipline in the Garde d’Haïti and of applying during the life of the loan or until its anticipated redemption, the present regulations and a statute which will fix the conditions of appointments, promotions and retirement in this body.