337. Memorandum From the Director of the Office of Middle American Affairs (Newbegin) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Holland)2


  • Political Situation in Haiti—Rumors of Unrest

We have just received several despatches from Port-au-Prince reporting increasing rumors that the Magloire Administration is in danger of being overthrown unless it can settle its economic difficulties. The Embassy agrees that the economic situation is bad but does not as yet believe there is much danger of an actual coup d’état because of the loyalty of the military to President Magloire and the latter’s effective spy system. The Embassy does believe, however, that there is danger of financial-economic disintegration which could end in the Government being unable to pay its bills and thus being unable to keep the Army under control.

Apparently these rumors concerning the stability of the Magloire Administration are related directly to the question of whether or not Magloire can obtain loans from the IBRD and Eximbank and grant aid from the United States. Persons discussing the political situation are frequently heard to say that President Magloire had better bring back funds from the United States or he might just as well not come back.

President Magloire seems to be aware of these rumors and one informant claims that the President intends to revive the struggle between blacks and mulattos in order to gain support from former Estimé leaders.3

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Involved in the foregoing are the elections scheduled for January 9. While these elections (for 37 deputies) have not been considered very important because Government-picked candidates are expected to win handily, one candidacy has stirred up interest. Deputy Daniel Fignole, a rabble-rouser opposed to President Magloire, has stated publicly that the President is trying to rig the elections so that Fignole will be defeated. He has boasted, however, that if he is not elected President Magloire had better not go to the United States. The implied threat is that there will be uprising and that the President might be overthrown while he is away. Fignole is appealing to the masses and the rank and file of the Army. Ordinarily his boasts and talk would not be taken seriously but, given the other rumors and the economic situation, his threats should not be overlooked.


The Embassy is not being alarmist but does point out that most observers, while their viewpoints are somewhat different, do agree on two things: (1) That the current economic situation is very bad; and (2) that there is much talk, and perhaps some planning, with respect to the possible overthrow of the present Administration.

We will probably arrive at some decision on the question of grant aid to Haiti within the next three weeks. Should the position of the Magloire regime deteriorate more rapidly than now contemplated, we perhaps should give consideration to the announcement of grant aid prior to the President’s visit to the United States. This would not only have the advantage of possibly bolstering his regime but also might help prevent Magloire from raising embarrassing loan questions during his official visit.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 738.00/1–555. Confidential. Assistant Secretary Holland initialed his approval of this memorandum.
  2. Dumarsais Estimé, President of Haiti, 1946–1950.