711.38/290: Telegram

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

55. Recent conversation in Washington and my report (please see especially my despatch No. 172, May 2437) have described the distressing economic situation here, the universal hope of assistance from the United States, the opportunity afforded us in this unprecedented pro-American atmosphere and finally the probability that failure on our part positively to implement the good neighbor policy will bring correspondingly sharp disillusionment which in turn will most likely either drive Haiti to alternative assistance and/or make us “the goat”. Indeed President Vincent has so publicly and completely thrown himself upon the mercy of the United States for the relief of the present economic difficulties in Haiti and impliedly for the success of his own administration that it seems certain he must make us out responsible for any failure to turn the trick and for the political disturbances or chaos which would most probably result.

I telegraph this summary since there is a time element involved. This is because of the economic situation, slowly but surely growing worse as we enter the “dead season” with no usual backlog of a good [Page 606] season and also because of the Haitian Government’s desire to enact its budget legislation soon, entailing arrangements as early in June as possible for continuance of the moratorium on the amortization of the 1922 loan.38 Once this second moratorium is arranged, private financial or economic assistance for Haiti becomes all the more difficult if not impossible for the time being.

Pro-French and pro-American sentiment within the Government play a part in this particular situation. The former undoubtedly looks with satisfaction upon the failure of the United States thus far to take advantage of the recent swing in sympathy here in our direction and hopes to capitalize this to French advantage. It is evident that every effort is being made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs to solve the French treaty difficulty in the near future. This could present France as the real friend of Haiti in her critical time whereas the United States and its much vaunted good neighbor policy failed to bring concrete benefits when most needed.

As I said recently in Washington, I believe that we are at a critical and psychological moment in our relations with Haiti when all the cards are in our favor. We have made great progress in public esteem here due to our wise and generous action under the good neighbor policy with respect to the withdrawal of the occupation and gradual elimination of financial control. However desirable and appreciated, this was negative, so to speak, from the local viewpoint. What the Haitians pray for, and expect with a rather childlike faith, and what the local situation requires, is positive remedial financial-economic action either by, or at the instance of our Government for the support of present conditions here. Haiti will always need the sort of help the successful members of a family should accord to the less privileged relations. It is in the working out of the manner of this assistance, in the form we can evolve for this concrete cooperation, that I feel will come the test of our good neighbor policy with respect to Haiti.

  1. Not printed.
  2. See pp. 573 ff.