Press Release Issued by the Department of State, April 13, 194212

Upon the occasion of the visit of His Excellency President Elie Lescot of the Republic of Haiti to Washington, a series of conferences was held with representatives of several agencies of the United States Government. These meetings were held with a view to strengthening and implementing the resolutions adopted at the recent meeting of the foreign ministers of the American republics held at Rio de Janeiro13 and to making more effective, under present international conditions, the Declaration of the United Nations signed at Washington on January 2 [1], 194214 and the Lend-Lease agreement between the United States of America and the Republic of Haiti signed at Washington September 16, 1941.15

As a consequence of these meetings, which were also attended by His Excellency M. Maurice Dartigue, the Haitian Minister of Agriculture, and by His Excellency Fernand Dennis, Minister of Haiti at Washington, several agreements were reached. These agreements were covered in an omnibus memorandum initialed at Washington on April 6, 1942 by President Lescot and the Acting Secretary of State, Sumner Welles.

The text of the memorandum follows:

“I. There will be an exchange of notes whereby the two Governments will give their formal approval to a Memorandum of Understanding signed on March 28, 1942 by the Haitian and United States Secretaries of Agriculture, regarding the purchase by the Commodity Credit Corporation of the United States of the surplus cotton production of Haiti. According to the understanding the Commodity [Page 468] Credit Corporation will take over, at an agreed price, the carry-over of cotton from last year’s crop as well as all of the surplus of the crop of 1942. The United States Government agrees to purchase, subject to an agreed price and within specified limitations of amount, the 1943 cotton crop and all subsequent cotton crops produced in Haiti during the present war. The Haitian Government on its part will take steps to restrict the production of cotton and to bring about an improvement in quality and an increase in the staple length of cotton produced in future years. The United States Department of Agriculture will be pleased to lend its assistance in the carrying out of the cotton improvement program.

“II. The Export-Import Bank of Washington has extended a line of credit to the National Bank of the Republic of Haiti in amounts which may be agreed upon as necessary for the purpose of strengthening the Haitian gourde-United States dollar exchange relationship which is peculiarly affected by the influence of shipping availability on exports and imports into the Republic. The Government of Haiti has agreed, on its part, to take all feasible measures to improve its budgetary position.

“The two Governments will continue to explore the possibilities of extending assistance to the Republic of Haiti in handling the surpluses of its agricultural products.

“III. In view of the pledge of the two Governments to employ their full resources against the common enemy, and the need for an immediate increase in the production of sisal in order to prosecute the common war effort, the two Governments agreed in principle to arrangements providing for the planting of approximately 24,000 additional acres of sisal in Haiti.

“As much land as can be planted within one year’s time from the present date, up to a maximum of 12,000 acres will be undertaken through the Societe Haitiano-Americaine de Developpement Agricole; and as much additional acreage as practicable will be planted by private interests within one year’s time from today’s date, up to a maximum of 12,000 acres. The details of the financial arrangements necessary for the planting of the additional acreage are to be worked out with the appropriate agencies of the two Governments.

“The Haitian Government agrees to grant every facility to the Societe Haitiano-Americaine de Developpement Agricole and to the private interests concerned in order that they may obtain possession of the necessary lands, whether government or privately owned, and to facilitate the employment of such United States technical personnel as may be necessary. In so far as practicable, the areas operated by the Societe Haitiano-Americaine de Developpement Agricole will be developed through a system of small holdings within short transportation distance of the decorticating machinery of the Societe Haitiano-Americaine de Developpement Agricole.

“If the planting of any additional acreage appears to be necessary to the successful prosecution of the joint war effort, the two Governments will consult together as to the method to be followed in any further sisal development.

“IV. In order to assist the Government of Haiti to defend its own territory and to participate in the defense of the Hemisphere, the Government of the United States, through its appropriate military and naval agencies is taking steps: [Page 469]

  • a. To grant assistance in the construction of a marine railway at Port-au-Prince.
  • b. To station vessels suitable for coast guard and patrol purposes in Haitian waters. Provision will be made to train Haitian cadets on these vessels.
  • c. To make available a number of units of artillery for coast defense and other purposes.
  • d. To make available a number of military aircraft with mechanics and instructors who will give training to members of the Garde d’Haiti.
  • e. To construct a new patrol boat to be used in the defense of Haitian coastal waters.
  • f. To undertake the overhaul and repair of additional shipping of Haitian registry to be used for coastal and patrol duties.”

Furthermore, communications were exchanged on April 7, 1942 by President Lescot and the Acting Secretary of State,16 providing for the active collaboration of the two Governments in carrying out a number of health and sanitation projects within the Republic of Haiti, to be undertaken in accordance with resolution XXX regarding health and sanitary conditions adopted at the recent conference at Rio de Janeiro. The United States Government will send a small group of experts to Haiti to cooperate in the development of the specific program which will be decided upon in agreement with the appropriate Haitian officials.

  1. Reprinted from Department of State Bulletin, April 18, 1942, p. 353.
  2. For correspondence regarding this Conference, see vol. v, pp. 6 ff.; for text of the Final Act, see Department of State Bulletin, February 7, 1942, p. 117.
  3. Vol. i, p. 25.
  4. Foreign Relations, 1941, vol. vii, p. 319.
  5. For text of the Agreement between the United States and Haiti regarding a health and sanitation program in Haiti, see Department of State Executive Agreement Series No. 425, or 58 Stat. (pt. 2) 1439.