376. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Dominican Republic1

788. While Duvalier still maintains firm and effective control of Haiti, opposition to his oppressive regime is widespread and plotting against him has increased substantially since it became evident that he has no intention of voluntarily relinquishing power at the end of his constitutional term of office, May 15, 1963. A sudden coup or act of violence against Duvalier could occur at any time, a possible consequence of which might be an internal armed conflict or a complete breakdown in public authority. Given the degree to which racism has been made an issue by Duvalier, the safety of foreigners would be particularly endangered in such a situation. There could also be danger of a Communist-inspired attempt to move in under cover of a confused or anarchical situation. There could be a request for assistance from a respectable provisional government fighting Duvalier forces.

US contingency planning for Haiti incorporates provision for use of US forces in varying forms as may be required by conditions within Haiti following an outbreak of violence. These possible courses of action range from the bringing of fleet units into Haitian waters to serve as a calming and restraining influence, to the actual landing of troops should the situation degenerate to such an extent that the threat to our interests outweighed the disadvantages of taking such drastic measures.2

While some kind of OAS umbrella would be urgently sought for the direct involvement of US forces in any of the contingencies envisioned, it must be recognized that a variety of developments within Haiti could make it encumbent on us to move our forces much more rapidly than it would be possible to obtain any sort of OAS action. Should this prove to be necessary, it would be distinctly advantageous if our actions enjoyed the sanction (and possible participation) of as many as possible of the Hemisphere governments that share our interest in preventing a disaster in Haiti.

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Without approaching host governments, addressee posts are requested to comment on the prospects for obtaining advance commitment of support by the governments to which accredited for utilization of US forces in the manner and degree required by emergency situations that might be expected to arise in Haiti.3 Such support would consist of public statements calling for or approving US action as well as support in seeking OAS approval.

While the range of such emergency situations is all but limitless, Department has particularly in mind situations resulting from or complicated by Haiti’s proximity to Cuba and/or a complete breakdown of law and order, riots and violence such as have attended some previous changes of political power in Haiti.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 26 HAI. Top Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Crockett; cleared in draft with Wellman, Deputy Director of the Office of West Coast Affairs Herbert Thompson, Fisher, Allen, Cottrell, and Dungan; cleared in substance with General Enemark of DOD/ISA; and approved by Martin. Also sent to Bogotá, Caracas, Panama, San Jose, and Tegucigalpa, and repeated to Port-au-Prince, POLAD CINCLANT and POLADCINCARIB.
  2. The draft contingency plan is in JCS telegram 9018, March 9, sent for information to the Department of State. In telegram 231, March 9, the Department of State sent the JCS plan to the Embassy in Haiti for its comments. In telegram 393 from Port-au-Prince, March 12, Thurston responded that he agreed with the plan, but wanted to be able to assure opposition forces of U.S. assistance in advance of their acting. (All ibid.)
  3. The recipient posts estimated that their government’s responses to unilateral U.S. intervention in Haiti would be negative. The responses are ibid., POL HAI and POL 26 HAI.