Memorandum by the Director of the Office of Middle American Affairs (Mann) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Miller)2


Subject: Recognition of new Haitian Government

There is no evidence that the overthrow of the Estimé regime3 is attributable to outside influences; the Junta has already indicated that it intends to live up to Haiti’s international obligations; and the Embassy has reported that the Junta is in control and that order prevails. Unless new facts come to light we will therefore doubtless recognize the Junta.

When it is time for us to proceed it is recommended that we consult with the other American republics regarding the factual situation; and that in the absence of significant information from them to change our estimate of the situation, we inform the other governments at least 72 hours in advance of our decision to recognize a new regime.

The timing of our initiative should be considered. We have not yet received Ambassador DeCourcy’s recommendations and our understanding with him4 was that he would be given time to look the situation over on the ground and perhaps get some informal promises concerning a number of matters which are of interest to us, including the plans of the Junta with respect to holding elections.5 Also, by [Page 933] waiting a week or more before taking a definitive decision, it is possible that a number of states will have followed the Dominican example of recognizing the Junta so that it will be evident we did not take the lead. The happiest timing would be to make our move when about half of the American republics have continued relations.

As to publicity, it is recommended that we continue to say that we have the matter under consideration. When we do recognize we could simply announce that we have done so after consultation with the other American republics. We would not volunteer any opinions about the Junta, and if we are asked concerning our policy towards governments which come into power by force, we could refer to the Secretary’s speech of last year which says, among other things, that recognition does not imply approval.

Is this recommended procedure satisfactory?6

T[homas] C. M[ann]
  1. Memorandum addressed also to Willard F. Barber, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs.
  2. President Dumarsais Estimé had resigned May 10 on demand of a military junta.
  3. Ambassador William E. DeCourcy, in the United States at the time of President Estimé’s resignation, had returned to Port-au-Prince May 15.
  4. In telegram 180 from Port-au-Prince, May 19, the Ambassador in part stated he had been told on the 17th by a representative of the junta that the Cabinet was actively considering an end to the state of siege and restoration of freedom of the press. Although new elections would be held, they would not take place for some months. Mr. DeCourcy concluded in part:

    “My belief is that junta is firmly established, despite fact that some politicos and some former supporters Estimé do not like it, meets essential requirements for recognition, and probably will not relinquish power for at least one year. From practical standpoint this should benefit country. It will give time put finances in order and to stabilize situation so that elections can be held under calm conditions.

    I do not recommend immediate recognition, but think consultation other American Republics should be undertaken promptly. Conversations with several diplomatic colleagues indicate their governments are awaiting information our attitude in view our predominant influence here.” (738.00/5–1950)

    In telegram 185 from Port-au-Prince, May 24, Ambassador DeCourcy said in part he felt the stability of the junta and the prevalence of order throughout the country warranted recognition immediately upon completion of whatever consultation with other American Republics the Department considered desirable. (738.00/5–2450)

  5. “OK E[dward] G M[iller]” is handwritten in the margin beside this sentence.