388. Letter From the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Martin) to the Ambassador to the Dominican Republic (Martin)1

Dear John: You will probably have seen by now various memoranda reflecting the general policy line that has been adopted here with respect to Bosch’s activities against Duvalier. We continue to work on the question of tactics within the framework of this policy. I want to try to explain in this letter, as closely as I can now, exactly what we have in mind so that you have not only what is in the official papers but what is between the lines, which is, I am afraid, not unimportant in this case.

We continue to be interested in seeing whether there is a possibility of overthrowing Duvalier without causing undue international repercussions. We are quite anxious from the standpoint of international [Page 799]repercussions to keep the United States Government very much in the background.

We see considerable difficulties for Bosch’s undertaking a successful operation both from the standpoint of international repercussions and from the standpoint of his own capabilities. We can’t avoid the probability that action by him will rub off somewhat on us in view of our close past associations with the Dominican Republic.

There is also considerable sensitivity here to the charge which has been picked up in the United States press that Bosch has more than once been all ready to upset Duvalier but the United States has stopped him. This charge smacks of interventionism or worse and is not accepted easily.

We also take it as an uncomfortable fact of life that the United States activity in support of Haitians, which is undertaken through or in close collaboration with Bosch, is apt to become public. One can’t tell when or under what circumstances, but both Bosch and his entourage are not considered to possess undue amounts of security consciousness, to say nothing of the Haitians.

This leads us to want to keep closely in touch with Bosch and the Dominicans on what they are doing on as discreet a basis as possible and in a way which will minimize, though it cannot avoid, difficulties in refusing material or financial assistance. [9-½ lines of source text not declassified]

At the same time we hope to be able to get away with this restricted relation with Bosch, we plan to continue working with Haitians directly in order to have a check on what Bosch is doing and what he is saying, in order to have some degree of independent control over the timing of Haitian activities and, if the appropriate occasion should arise, perhaps to be able to give more concrete help to the Haitians without compromising ourselves with Bosch or his associates.

I have no illusions that this is anything but a very tricky and difficult game to play. I think we have no illusions about the prospects of organizing the Haitians to doing anything very helpful in the near future either. But, in order to make the most of it with the least possible damage, I thought it important that you understand, as specifically as I have tried to put it in this letter, what we are trying to accomplish and how we think it best to go about it, so that you can conduct yourself in a way which fits into the program.2

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Best of luck.

Sincerely,

Edwin M. Martin3

P.S. I have just come back from a visit with Alex Johnson to the JCS, where they wished to discuss the DR situation. I think they are reasonably content with our appraisal and current policies. They have seen your recent long despatch with its 26 recommendations. I told them we were preparing an action paper for the LAPC based on it.4 This seemed to satisfy them on this score.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL DOM REP-HAI. Top Secret; Official-Informal.
  2. In a June 12 letter to Edwin Martin, Ambassador John Martin agreed that it would be difficult for Bosch to undertake an operation against Duvalier either successfully, quietly, or without also implicating the United States. Martin also agreed he must distance himself from operational activities, but noted that it was inevitable that Bosch would want to discuss Haiti with him. Martin asked to be fully informed of U.S. activities in the Dominican Republic in conjunction with Haitian dissidents. (Ibid., POL DOM REP-US)
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.
  4. Documents 243 ff.