364. Editorial Note

Following his election in November 1960, President-elect John F. Kennedy established a Task Force on Immediate Latin American Problems. Former Assistant Secretary of State Adolph Berle chaired the task force, whose members included former Kennedy campaign aide Richard N. Goodwin, Arturo Morales-Carrion and Teodoro Moscoso of the Puerto Rican Government, economist Lincoln Gordon, political scientist Robert Alexander, and historian Arthur P. Whittaker. The task force was charged with evaluating U.S.-Latin American relations and ordering the tasks of the new administration’s policy towards Latin America. On January 4, 1961, the task force submitted its report to President-elect Kennedy. The report contained two sets of recommendations for U.S. policy towards Haiti. Under the general heading of “Personnel Changes,” the report discussed the question of opposition to President Francois Duvalier. The recommendation from the report reads as follows:

Haiti. The State Department should immediately review the situation of our Embassy in Haiti. This country could explode at any time. Its government is dictatorial but shaky, said to be infiltrated by pro-Communist groups, probably headed for downfall. Probably the tacit temporary working agreement between Castro and the Dominican dictator, Trujillo, includes for the moment non-interference in Haiti by Castro. But any change in the Haitian government might lead to explosion and perhaps invasion from both countries. The American Embassy should seek to draw together the forces for a healthy alternative (including, perhaps, some of the exiles) to the Duvalier government. This is a prerequisite to other action; after [creation of] such organization, consideration might be given to withdrawing support from Duvalier.”

Under the heading “Emergency situations requiring immediate action,” the report suggested the following action:

Haiti. The State Department should have a ‘left hand’ in the United States (unofficial relations which do not compromise) and this should be extended to the more responsible Haitian exiles. It should set about and draw together the elements of an eventually effective government. Two possible leaders: Fignole and Jumelle. There may be better men than either available. Small cadres of Haitians should be chosen immediately who can promptly be trained to deal with governmental problems. (Some Haitians have already studied in Puerto Rico.) Basically, these must be trained to organize, make productive, and insure at least subsistence for more than three million Haitians living in primitive conditions. Puerto Rico seems the best training stage in view of conditions in the [Page 750]United States and Governor Munoz Marin has much experience in doing this.

“Unpublicized orders should be given to prevent landing of arms and guerrillas into Haiti and Puerto Rico from Cuba: this means patrol of the Windward Passage; and intimation might be given that if the Dominicans invade, we would respond with any needed help.” (Kennedy Library, Pre-Presidential Papers, Transition Series, Task Force Reports, 1960)