380. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Haiti1

414. Port-au-Prince and Santo Domingo for Ambassadors, USUN for Amb. Stevenson.

In light possibility Duvalier departure2 a carrier is being instructed move as close to Port-au-Prince as possible while staying in international waters by early Wednesday morning.3 Whether or not these forces needed appearance may be helpful in calming situation.
As soon as you have firm information Duvalier has left from US or other sources you should with such assistance as you consider appropriate from your Latin American colleagues facilitate organization of temporary governmental council composed friendly Haitians now in [Page 786]Port-au-Prince. You should do this regardless efforts by Duvalier to bestow mantle or of unacceptable elements to seize it and claim governmental authority. You should draw upon list available to you. We have in mind particularly [General] Constant, [George] Latortue, and if possible Madhere. Would like at least 5 but 3 would do. Insofar as possible this group should understand that their role is provisional until exiles return and some semblance of order permits organization of wider based governmental council which could be in control pending elections. Would want to get several key exiles like Fouchet, Boucicaut and [Leon] Cantave back and on Council as soon as feasible. Will wait your recommendations as to when.
Leave to your discretion whether it would facilitate maintenance of order to attempt include in such group representatives existing government like President, Supreme Court, who has best title and successor to head of state, or others about whom we inquired [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] earlier this week. We see considerable advantages to including one or more of these persons. Would see considerable advantages in Chief Supreme Court serving as very temporary Chairman to add to notion of legitimacy.
Suggest safety of group might be increased if it could operate from a Latin American Embassy, though political reactions of Haitians to such locale would require consideration.
First action this group should be request recognition as provisional government from all countries which have maintained relations with Haiti in past and to invite assistance OAS and its member states individually and collectively in maintenance law and order until Haitians’ military and police functions can be returned to normal. Not so immediately necessary but desirable would be indication of their wish for OAS and member state technical assistance on substantial scale in operating Haitian Government pending elections. They should, of course, make public their intention invite participation by other Haitian leaders not presently available in Port-au-Prince in governing committee in very near future. You should on receipt this request telephone it to Washington for conveyance to OAS and use our facilities to repeat to other Latin American governments. We also think it important that they immediately authorize Auguste and Baguidy to act for them at UN and OAS, respectively. Whom we believe may be disposed cooperate.
It is of course desirable that group be able make radio contact with Haitian population at earliest possible moment. If this not feasible from Port-au-Prince facilities, we would like their authority to have Boucicaut broadcast in their name to Haitian people as co-member of group. He is now in Kingston and being held ready for immediate use of this sort. We are working on arrangements to provide him broadcasting facilities [Page 787]either from carrier or aircraft which would appear come from Haitian soil as early as possible tomorrow. Will confirm details later.
We would much prefer not to have US forces enter Haiti until request from group for military help received and preferably not until there has been opportunity OAS agree respond favorably which may take 12-24 hours or may never be possible. We would also press for others to join with us on at least token basis as rapidly as possible. However, with or without formation such a group and with or without such an appeal, we are ready at any time, if necessary to protect lives of US and other foreign nationals and asylees, to authorize landing from nearby carrier. It would be of greatest importance if request for such assistance could be made publicly in name not only US Embassy but other Latin American and European Embassies. We will be informing principal European and Latin American capitals early tomorrow of this possibility.
Meanwhile, we have been having discussions here today with Cantave, who has plan for entering Haiti from outside which might be made feasible within relatively short period of time if organization provisional government in Port-au-Prince proves impossible. We do feel it necessary to have call for help from such group from within Haiti before we can take anything but most temporary action to maintain law and order or to assist in managing Haitian government. We are holding up action with this group however until we see what happens tomorrow. It seems clear that without such request no sort of OAS action is possible and perhaps not even with it.
Telephone on Inter-American phone on receipt this message. You may comment or ask questions by reference paragraph numbers.4
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 15 HAI. Top Secret; Emergency; Limited Distribution. Drafted by Martin; cleared by Rusk, Dungan, Sloan of ISA, and King of CIA; and approved by Martin. Repeated Emergency to Santo Domingo; Priority to USUN; and Operational Immediate to POLAD CINCLANT and POLADCINCARIB.
  2. According to telegram 413 to Haiti, May, 14, Duvalier’s aide made four reservations for Duvalier and others to fly from Curacao to New York to Paris to Algiers via Pan Am Airlines on May 15. (Ibid., POL 15-1 HAI)
  3. May 15.
  4. In telegram 663 from Port-au-Prince, May 15, noon, Thurston reported that he had telephoned Martin to inform him that Duvalier was not leaving Haiti. Thurston made comments on the plan outlined above for transition to a temporary government, on the grounds that his views might be useful in the future. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 15 HAI)