838.01/3–146: Circular telegram

The Secretary of State to Diplomatic Representatives in the American Republics


Consultations among the various American Republics with regard to the possible recognition of the incumbent regime in Haiti have demonstrated that five countries are favorably disposed towards such action, while four (Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, and Venezuela) have expressed reluctance to do so in view of the wholly military nature of the cabinet as well as of the triumvirate. The remaining eight have expressed no definite opinion other than their intention to act only after full consultation and in conformity with the views of the other republics.

The military aspect has also caused us some concern in the light of past experience with regimes in hemisphere which before recognition have promised to observe democratic practices but after recognition had been extended sometimes ignored them. It is of course no part of this Govt’s intention to lend encouragement to the establishment or maintenance of military regimes or of any Govt not resting on the freely expressed will of the people. On the other hand, reports so far available, indicate that the military junta assumed power because it was only group prepared to assume the responsibilities of office and capable of maintaining order in face of lack of organization of opposition to Lescot and that it has acted with patriotism and disinterest.

Information reaching Dept indicates that junta would be quite willing to include civilians in cabinet and in fact has tried to do so; but [Page 910] that its efforts have been unsuccessful due in part to lack of any political party with sufficient public support to ensure public confidence in its representative; in part to the inability of the numerous political parties which have sprung up to establish any working coalition; and in part to reluctance of individual civilians to accept office without the assured support of political groups and of the public.

Military junta has emphasized its desire to turn over to a civilian Govt as soon as possible, and has convoked elections not later than May 12, in which no member of the military is to be eligible for election. At that time, voters will choose a legislative assembly, which will first draw up a new constitution to replace that abrogated in January of this year and then elect a President. There would appear to be no prohibition preventing election of member of present junta or of Military to Presidency at that time.

Please convey foregoing survey of situation to FonMin, pointing out that junta controls machinery of Govt and is maintaining order, appears to enjoy popular support and has promised to fulfill its international commitments. You may point out that apprehension has been expressed that continued withholding of recognition might result in collapse of junta, general disintegration and even chaos—a possibility which the FonMin will wish to consider in conjunction with the other factors enumerated bearing on the situation.

Please ask FonMin for any additional information he may have and inquire specifically whether in his Govt’s estimate recognition should be extended. You should add that your Govt makes no recommendation on this point and that it will take no action pending a consensus that recognition should be extended and the setting of a definite date. You should tell FonMin that if he favors recognition Dept would appreciate his suggestions as to date.

Above repeated to Buenos Aires, Ciudad Trujillo, and Port-au-Prince for information only.