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

No. 1130

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s urgent telegraphic instruction No. 170 of June 4, 11:00 [8:00] p.m., 1942, directing me to enquire whether the Haitian Government was disposed to cooperate in an investigation to be made by American Army [Page 270]engineers to ascertain the feasibility of an overland supply route to the Eastern Caribbean.

I mentioned this project to President Lescot yesterday and, in expressing his entire approval, he claimed it practically as his own, since he said that for some time he had contemplated a road from the Mole via Cap-Haїtien to the Dominican frontier at Ouanaminthe, whence it would go presumably to Samaná Bay via Ciudad Trujillo itself. He thought there would only be one short piece of new construction on this road in the neighborhood of Le Borgne.

Subsequent consideration of the problems involved, however, made me think that very possibly the Haitian section of the road should start at Port-au-Prince. There have so far been no submarine attacks within the waters of Port-au-Prince inside of the island of La Gonâve, or, for that matter, between Capes Tiburon and the Mole. The approach of submarines into the waters this side of La Gonâve would be fraught with great additional risks, including the protective artillery now installed in the neighborhood of Port-au-Prince. The additional time of this passage could possibly be used during night travel.

At the Môle there are no kind of installations,—piers, warehouses, etc. Everything would have to be created there.

This morning I spoke to Mr. Walker of the J. G. White Corporation to ask his opinion in regard to road possibilities. He thought that the completion and perfection of the northern road considered by the President would take over a year. He also agreed about the comparative installations at the Môle where there are none and Portau-Prince where everything is ready to receive traffic. He also pointed out that there is a very tolerable and used road from Portau-Prince into the Dominican Republic and on the Dominican side the road is better than on the Haitian side.

Asked as to the desirability of constructing a road from Port-au-Prince due east via Barahona, he said that this would be only some twenty kilometers shorter, but would be a saving in grades. On the other hand, in view of the sandy nature of the country through which it would have to pass in Western Barahona, it might be difficult to find an adequate base for the road and that it would take some time to build.

Mr. Walker stated that his company did not have any detailed data in regard to the costs of road building, etc., which I thought might be useful to the Army engineers in case they came here.

Respectfully yours,

J. C. White