389. Letter From Haitian President Duvalier to President Nixon1 2

[Page 1]

I have the honor to inform Your Excellency that following what was first a mutiny of the Coast Guard unit stationed at Port-au-Prince that began at 11:30 a.m. on April 24, 1970, involving three Haitian Coast Guard vessels, two of them, the G–C–3 and G–C–8, shelled the city of Port-au-Prince, directing their fire at military objectives such as the National Palace and Fort Dimanche but hitting mostly private homes and causing numerous casualties, both in killed and wounded. I should add that a very small part of this Coast Guard garrison, a little less than a hundred of the two hundred and fifty, has joined this rebellion movement. The others have remained loyal to the Haitian Government, which has complete control of the situation, especially in regard to territory. The population is remaining calm and has reaffirmed its support of the government.

On the afternoon of the same day the mutiny developed into piracy at sea. In fact, as the American Military Attache in Port-au-Prince can attest, and he has questioned the master of the American oceanographic barge, this vessel was halted ten kilometers from the Haitian coast by the rebel coast guardsmen. Food supplies and a transistor radio were demanded and they wished to take fuel from it but were thwarted by the arrival of a Haitian F–51 airplane. Another vessel, the 4200-ton M/V Weser Broker of German registry, under the command of Captain Bendele, was also stopped at 5 a.m. on April 25, 1970, and was subjected to the same treatment. Two pirate units are on the high seas outside Haitian territorial waters and are united in attacking defenseless people and pillaging the goods of nationals of all countries. Furthermore, two vessels painted white, with American crews, were seized in the afternoon of the 24th and their crews detained. In view of this situation the Haitian Government has decided to notify the Foreign Ministries of friendly governments of its opposition to the rebel vessels flying the Haitian flag and the military pennant, it declares them to be pirate ships, subject to all the consequences that this entails, [Page 2] until such time as the instigators of the rebellion may be regularly prosecuted.

to prevent the repetition of such acts of piracy the Haitian Government requests Your Excellency to issue all necessary instructions, especially, I venture to suggest to you, for the United States Air and Naval forces stationed at Guantanamo to take action to render the pirate vessels unable to cause further harm. I should like to add that this situation falls into the present Latin American context of support by a certain government of subversion movements to which it is not a stranger.

I avail myself of this occasion to renew to you, Mr. President, the assurances of my highest consideration.

Dr. Francois Duvalier
President for Life of the Republic of Haiti
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 23–9 HAI. No classification marking. Translated by the Division of Language Services; transmitted in telegram 468. In telegram 434 from Port-au-Prince, April 25, the Embassy reported that the Haitian Foreign Office had alleged that three American citizens had been captured by rebel Haitian Coast Guard cutters. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 785, Country Files, Latin America, Haiti, Vol. I)
  2. President Duvalier indicated that members of the Haitian Coast Guard had mutinied and then, in an act of piracy at sea, had attacked an American vessel. He called on the “United States Air and Naval forces stationed at Guantánamo to take action to render the pirate vessels unable to cause further arm.”