810.20 Defense/371/17: Telegram

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

76. Department’s 77, May 29, 3 p.m.68 I have made arrangements to convey the Department’s views to President Vincent tomorrow, Friday, at noon. Meanwhile, I hope that the extreme gravity of the times permits the following comment.

Knowing President Vincent so well, I am convinced that while in all likelihood he will give his agreement, at the same time he will draw most unhappy conclusions; namely, that the Department’s proposal does not seem to appreciate the urgency of the time element involved; that, as has been the case with the British and French, we fail to understand the lightning like rapidity and audacity with which Hitler acts; that American democracy is as lacking in this respect as European democracy; that by the time the proposed consultations [Page 123] are over German forces may already be en route to the Americas; and finally that there is secrecy in the [implementation] of the Department’s proposed procedure.

In order to reassure President Vincent of our appreciation of the realities of the moment and that we are prepared to deal immediately with the problems peculiar to the Antillean area, I earnestly request the Department to authorize me by telephone before noon tomorrow, Friday, to accept President Vincent’s repeated recommendations for the establishment of United States air bases in Haiti69 and to solicit immediate technical conversations. I am hopeful that President Vincent is still so inclined in view of a series of inspired articles appearing in the current local press.

These articles, in discussing closer cooperation between the American Republics, emphasize that President Vincent desires a special arrangement between the United States and the three Antillean republics “since in case of danger and because of their geographical position they constitute the principal bases of defense of our continent”. The articles then express the belief that within the framework of continental Pan-Americanism there is also room for a Caribbean Pan-Americanism which is especially interesting to the peoples and countries of this region. The articles continue that “this is obviously a special section of the continent which, without destroying the necessary Pan-American unity, presents, by its very position in the hemisphere, by its more immediate proximity to the United States, problems which should be considered and decided as soon as possible precisely because of that proximity.”

  1. See footnote 29, p. 16.
  2. For previous correspondence, see section entitled “Attitude of the Department of State regarding certain defense proposals of the Haitian Government,” Foreign Relations, 1939, vol. v, pp. 637 ff.