355. Memorandum From William G. Bowdler of the National Security Council Staff to the Presidentʼs Special Assistant (Rostow)1


  • Meeting with Ecuadorean ex-President Galo Plaza2

Ellsworth Bunker, Bob Sayre and I met with Galo Plaza last Friday to have his impressions and recommendations on Haiti from where he had just come.3

His impressions were:

  • —Duvalier is strongly entrenched with a highly personalized system of control and the chances of a palace coup or popular uprising are virtually nil.
  • —He might die from natural causes or assassination, in which case Haiti will be plunged into a blood bath because there is no institutional structure.
  • —The deterioration of the economy and the poverty and misery of the people is appalling.
  • —The unwillingness of the U.S. to pump more resources into Haiti is understandable but it really works to Duvalierʼs advantage since in the Haitian milieu he does better in isolation.
  • —The hemisphere for humanitarian reasons cannot stand idly by and permit the plight of the Haitian people to worsen because of Duvalier.
  • —The OAS cannot survive another U.S. unilateral intervention and we should get the Latin Americans thinking in terms of collective action now.

Galo Plaza recommended that the OAS furnish and administer through a special mission in Haiti assistance in the educational, agricultural and other fields. All activities would be under the direct [Page 828] supervision of the OAS mission so that Duvalier and his henchmen could not get their hands in the till. He thought that under the guise of property watchmen the OAS could put as many as 200 armed men into the country. The mission would constitute an OAS presence which would facilitate OAS collective action when Duvalier goes and chaos follows. All of this would, of course, be subject to getting Duvalier to invite the OAS in and accept OAS control conditions. He said he thought this possible and he would be willing to work on Duvalier to bring it about.

Bunker Sayre and I reacted favorably to his proposal. I told Galo Plaza that I was not as sanguine as he on the OAS aid presence facilitating rapid political decision-making in the OAS for collective action to put forces in Haiti to avert bloodshed. I suggested an add-on to his proposal in the form of a prior understanding among the American governments (worked out informally on a foreign office-to-foreign office basis and not through the OAS) that when the lid blows in Haiti, the OAS machinery will be brought into play immediately and the necessary decisions on collective action taken without delay. Galo Plaza thought this might be acceptable and in any event should be tried.

We indicated that his proposal would be carefully examined.

WGBowdler 4
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Office Files of Bill Moyers, Haiti. Secret. A copy was sent to Moyers.
  2. President of Ecuador 1948–1952, Ambassador to the United States 1944–1946, and a UN diplomatic troubleshooter in Lebanon, the Congo, and Cyprus during the late 1950s and early 1960s, Galo Plaza visited Haiti to assess appropriate International Development Bank and OAS assistance for that country. In May 1968 he became the fourth Secretary General of the OAS.
  3. Telegrams 261, 262, and 263 from Port-au-Prince, all September 13, reported details of Galo Plazaʼs September 8–12 trip to Haiti. The first telegram reported on his meetings with Duvalier and Chalmers, and the latter two on his discussions with Timmons about Haitiʼs perilous political situation and the need for United States and IDB assistance. (All in National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 7 ECUADOR)
  4. Printed from a copy that bears the typed signature.