851D.00/108: Airgram

The Consul at Cayenne (LaMont) to the Secretary of State

A–48. Reference Department’s telegram 21, April 1, 5 p.m. and my 43 April 2, 2 p.m. Rapenne appears to have received the whole [Page 273]hearted support of both the local population and government officials. He seems to be an energetic as well as a capable administrator.

There is no special de Gaulle faction in French Guiana. There are many who speak of themselves as de Gaullists but by that they mean that they have been opposed to the Vichy regime and in favor of continuing the struggle against the Axis. With the advent of Giraud in North Africa, he was subject to the same admiration as de Gaulle, as the local population could see no difference between the two. The main desire of the local population was to throw off the Vichy regime in the Colony and join the French fighting the Axis, without regard to factions. In general, the local population is also very pro-American and they are convinced that with the United States against them the Axis must lose.

The new regime now headed by Governor Rapenne has liberated all persons previously interned for being anti-Vichy, pro-de Gaulle or both (it should be remembered that prior to November 1942 de Gaulle was the only symbol of Frenchmen wanting to continue the struggle against the Axis). It has also carefully refrained from any action by word or deed against de Gaulle that might split the local population. I have talked with many natives since the arrival of Governor Rapenne and while they give him their enthusiastic support they may during the same conversation also speak in glowing terms of both de Gaulle and Giraud. When the Governor speaks, the local population is quite likely to shout “Vive de Gaulle” as well as “Vive Giraud” and “Vive la France”.

Major Robert Parfaite, who was the moving spirit in the overthrow of the former regime, had at first no choice between de Gaulle and Giraud (my telegram No. 14 March 16, 3 p.m.57). Now he is an ardent supporter of Giraud and especially of Governor Rapenne. He is acting as the “Chef du Cabinet” of Rapenne and while in his office this morning he showed me copies of telegrams and letters received from the mayors of the various communes pledging their support and many expressed extreme pleasure at again being in the conflict to free the mother country.

All persons who have mentioned the matter to me, and who know they are separate, have expressed the hope that the Giraud and de Gaulle movements will soon be united.

Governor Rapenne and Colonel Le Bel are the first French representatives to receive an enthusiastic reception on the part of the local population upon their arrival here, during the year in which I have been in French Guiana. In connection with Governor Rapenne I have recently observed people standing in front of the “Palais du Gouvernement” at noon to catch a glimpse of him on his balcony passing from his office to his residence quarters.

LaMont
  1. Not printed.