DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Memorandum of Conversation
DATE: June 19, 1969
Time: 11:30 a.m.
Place: Department of State
SUBJECT: Call of Haitian Foreign Minister
H.E. Rene Chalmers - Foreign Minister of Haiti
H.E. Arthur Bonhomme - Ambassador of Haiti
Mr. John Hugh Crimmins - Deputy Assistant Secretary, ARA
Ambassador Claude G. Ross - Haiti
Mr. Marion Smoak - Assistant Chief, Protocol
Mr. Edward T. Long - Director, Office of Caribbean Affairs
Mr. Sam Maggio - LS
Copies to: S, U J, C S/S, D, INR/OD, S/P,
WEI, CIA, ARA, J/PM, Amembassy SANTIAGO, Amembassy
Foreign Minister Chalmers opened the conversation by stating that since he was passing through Washington he wanted to pay a courtesy call on the Secretary. President Duvalier had asked the Foreign Minister to come to Washington to present evidence to the OAS with respect to communist infiltration into Haiti. The Haitian government had collected quite a few pieces of evidence of this infiltration which presented a “real danger” to that government. In the face of this danger “naturally we took repressive measures”. There had been a few lucky encounters and the Haitian authorities had captured the principal leaders of the communist movement, including the secretary general of the communist party, the head of the military committee, members of the central committee, and all of the intellectual leaders. The Haitian government had seized military equipment, printing presses, and propaganda pamphlets. As a result, the communist movement had been weakened. In answer to the Secretary’s question, the Foreign Minister said that most of this activity took place in April.[Page 2]
Despite its weakened condition, however, the communist party, the Foreign Minister pointed out, was in a position to rebuild its cells. According to documents seized at Casale the communists planned to move into the central portion of Haiti in order to set up a guerrilla camp. The authorities were now looking to see if this camp had, in fact, been established and the militia was going through the area “inch by inch”. The Foreign Minister said that there are about 200,000 loyal militiamen. He said nothing happens in Haiti that these people don’t know about and they quickly report any information they collect to the central government.
The Foreign Minister said he wanted to draw attention to the fact that students were backing the communist movement. He said that many Haitian students had gone to Moscow where they had studied at the Lumumba University and a school of social sciences. After completing this schooling in Moscow, the students then went to Cuba for guerrilla training. In essence, the Foreign Minister said the communist efforts in Haiti were initiated by the Soviet Union which in this instance was then backed up by Cuba. The Foreign Minister also pointed out that the principal Haitian communist parties merged into one party on January 19, 1969. The Foreign Minister handed to the Secretary three notebooks which he said contained his statement to be made at the June 20 OAS Council meeting, as well as backup evidence of the communist infiltration including propaganda pamphlets, results of interrogation of communist prisoners, pictures of equipment seized from the communists, etc.
The Secretary asked how many communists were involved in Haiti. The Foreign Minister said that the Haitian government had caught between 60 and 100, had killed about 100, but that he had no other specific figures.
The Secretary asked how many students had gone to Moscow. The Foreign Minister said that he knew personally of at least ten. The Foreign Minister, who had taught in Haiti for 30 years, said that several of his former students had been involved in communist activities recently and were casualties.[Page 3]
The Foreign Minister also said that the communists had aligned themselves with certain non-communist parties, including the Haitian Progress Movement headed by Max Dominique, a priest. The Haitian government had proof that the Haitian Progress Movement at times had printed its newspaper on the communist printing press.
The Secretary said he would be interested in reading the notebooks left by the Foreign Minister.
The Foreign Minister referred to a request presented to the U.S. Government previously by Ambassador Bonhomme regarding Haiti’s desire to purchase ammunition in the United States. He said that the Government of Haiti would be most pleased if the U.S. Government would offer facilities in this regard. The Foreign Minister then thanked the U.S. Government for its efforts to block persons trying to use U.S. soil to launch invasions of Haiti. Recognizing that some still slip through, the Foreign Minister said that the Haitian government knew that the U.S. Government was energetically trying to stop these incursions.
The Secretary said that the Haitian ammunition request was under review with a lot of other similar requests.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 7 HAI. Confidential. Copies sent to S, U, J, C, D, INR/OD, S/P, WH, CIA, ARA, J/PM, Amembassy Santiago, Amembassy Port-au-Prince. A stamped notation on the memorandum indicates that complete distribution was made by CMS on 6/25/69. Also present with Secretary Rogers were Ambassador Claude G. Moss, Assistant Chief of Protocol Marion Smoak, and Director of the Office of Caribbean Affairs Edward T. Long. INR Intelligence Note No. 484, June 20, observed, “In twelve years the exiles have been unable to launch a well organized invasion and their future prospects do not appear any brighter. Not only do they lack effective support in Haiti, but the contenders for power there can be expected violently to oppose any attempt by exiles to enter the field upon Duvalier’s passing. (Ibid., POL 15–1 HAI) ↩
- Foreign Minister Chalmers met with Secretary of State Rogers to discuss President Duvalier’s crack down on alleged Communists in Haiti. At the end of the conversation, the Foreign Minister reiterated Haiti’s desire to purchase ammunition in the United States and thanked the Secretary for U.S. “efforts to block persons trying to use U.S. soil to launch invasions of Haiti.”↩