407. Telegram 615 From the Embassy in Haiti to the Department of State, May 20, 1972, 1530Z.1 2

[Page 1]

TELEGRAM
Department of State
PORT AU PRINCE 0615

R 201530Z MAY 72

FM AMEMBASSY PORT AU PRINCE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5221
INFO AMEMBASSY BOGOTA

PORT AU PRINCE 0615

SUBJECT: MEETING WITH PRESIDENT DUVALIER

1. AS I HAD DONE LAST YEAR WITH HIS FATHER, I REQUESTED AN APPOINTMENT THIS WEEK WITH PRESIDENT JEAN-CLAUDE DUVALIER ON THE EVE OF MY DEPARTURE FOR THE CHIEFS OF MISSION CONFERENCE. THE STATED PURPOSE WAS TO ELICIT HIS VIEWS RE DEVELOPMENTS WITHIN HAITI AND THE HEMISPHERE AND IN ADVANCE OF THE MEETING, AT THE SUGGESTION OF SECSTATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ADRIEN RAYMOND, I HAD SUBMITTED A LONG LIST OF QUESTIONS TO SERVE AS FOCUS FOR HIS REPLIES. A HALF-HOUR BEFORE THE SCHEDULED TIME OF OUR MEETING (4 P.M. MAY 19) I RECEIVED FROM THE PALACE BY SPECIAL MESSENGER A LONG LETTER IN FRENCH CARRYING HIS WRITTEN REPLIES TO EACH OF MY QUESTIONS. I HAD TIME ONLY TO SCAN THEM QUICKLY BEFORE MEETING WITH HIM. THERE ARE NO REAL SURPRISES IN THE RESPONSES. THEY WERE PROBABLY DRAFTED BY RAYMOND AND VETTED BY SECSTATE FOR INTERIOR AND DEFENSE CAMBRONNE AND THEY DRAW HEAVILY ON JEAN-CLAUDE’S SET-PIECE SPEECHES GIVEN OVER THE LAST YEAR. NEVERTHELESS, IN SUM, THEY AMOUNT TO A USEFUL REITERATION OF GOH DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN POLICY. FULL TEXT OF REPLIES ALONG WITH MY QUESTIONS WILL BE POUCHED.

2. ON BEING USHERED INTO THE PRESIDENT’S OFFICE, I FOUND JEAN-CLAUDE WITH ONLY CAMBRONNE AND RAYMOND IN ATTENDANCE [Page 2] AND THE GENERAL ATMOSPHERE WAS MUCH MORE INTIMATE THAN THAT WHICH ATTENDED ANY OTHER MEETING I HAVE HAD WITH HIM OR HAD WITH HIS FATHER. JEAN-CLAUDE SEEMED MUCH MORE SELF-ASSURED THAN I HAD SEEN HIM. ON PREVIOUS OCCASIONS AND THOUGH HE LEFT THE BULK OF THE DISCUSSION TO CAMBRONNE (WITH INFREQUENT INTERJECTIONS BY RAYMOND), HE APPEARED TO LISTEN CAREFULLY AND TO BE ENJOYING THE SESSION. THE TIMES HE DID SPEAK, HIS OBSERVATIONS WERE TO THE POINT AND WELL-FORMED THOUGH HE HAS OPTED HIS FATHER’S IRRITATING HABIT OF SPEAKING JUST ABOVE A WHISPER, WHICH OBLIGES HIS AUDITORS TO LEAN FORWARD IN THEIR CHAIRS SO AS NOT TO MISS A WORD.

3. THE DISCUSSION DID NOT AMOUNT TO A REITERATION OF ALL THE RESPONSES MADE IN THE LETTER. RATHER IT DEVOLVED INTO AN IMPASSIONED PERORATION BY CAMBRONNE IN WHICH HE MADE AND REPEATED HIS FAVORITE POINTS: (1) THE GOH’S RECORD OVER JEAN-CLAUDE’S FIRST YEAR IN OFFICE IS A GOOD ONE AND ENTITLES THE COUNTRY TO ASSISTANCE FROM ABROAD; (2) THE INTERNATIONAL LENDING AGENCIES, THOUGH BECOMING SOMEWHAT MORE FAVORABLY DISPOSED TOWARDS HAITI, STILL MOVE AT SNAIL’S PACE, REQUIRING ENDLESS FEASIBILITY STUDIES BEFORE GETTING TO THE STAGE WHERE FUNDS ARE ACTUALLY COMMITTED (IN THIS CONNECTION HE STATED THAT THE WORLD BANK REPS HAD TOLD THEM THAT THEY “MIGHT” BE IN A POSITION TO UNDERWRITE THE NORTH ROAD IN 1974, WHEREAS THE NEED FOR THAT LINK WAS PRESSING INDEED SO PRESSING THAT GOH MAY ATTEMPT TO START IT THIS SUMMER USING THEIR OWN RESOURCES; (3) THE U.S. HAS A FIRM FRIEND IN HAITI WHETHER OR NOT ASSISTANCE IS FORTHCOMING; 4) AMERICAN INVESTORS SHOULD BE ENCOURAGED TO COME TO HAITI BECAUSE SUCH PRIVATE INVESTMENT, PARTICULARLY IN THE SHAPE OF SUCH LABOR INTENSIVE ENTERPRISES AS SUGAR MILLS, WOULD HAVE AN IMPORTANT MULTIPLIER EFFECT ON THE ECONOMY; (5) HAITI NEEDS TO MODERNIZE ITS ARMED FORCES BECAUSE THE COUNTRY IS STILL A COMMUNIST TARGET AND WOULD WELCOME ASSISTANCE FROM THE UNITED STATES IN THE AREA OF NATIONAL DEFENSE (IN HIS LETTER, JEAN-CLAUDE STATES THAT “MY GOVERNMENT WOULD APPRECIATE RECEIVING MILITARY AID FROM THE UNITED STATES”).

4. FOR MY PART, I RESPONDED TO CAMBRONNE’S POINTS BY STATING THAT THOUGH I SYMPATHIZED WITH THEIR IMPATIENCE, MEMBERS GOH MUST REALIZE THAT THE DEVELOPMENT AND FINANCING OF PROJECTS THROUGH THE INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS TOOK TIME AND COULD NOT [Page 3] BE SHOVED THROUGH OVERNIGHT. AS FOR MILITARY ASSISTANCE, I TOOK THE OPPORTUNITY PROVIDED TO COUNSEL AGAINST THE UNWISE AND NASTY PROCUREMENT OF COSTLY BUT OBSOLESCENT WEAPONS. I RECALLED THAT DURING THEIR DISCUSSIONS IN WASHINGTON, THEY HAD BEEN INFORMED THAT STEPS WERE BEING TAKEN TO REPLACE HAITI ON LIST OF COUNTRIES ELIGIBLE FOR FOREIGN MILITARY SALES AND CREDITS. FURTHERMORE, I TOLD THEM THAT IF THERE WERE GOH INTEREST, I WOULD FORWARD THEIR REQUEST FOR AN EXPERT TEAM TO COME ON TDY TO ASSESS THEIR DEFENSE REQUIREMENTS. (THEY SAID THEY WOULD WELCOME SUCH A MISSION.)

5. FINALLY, THE DISCUSSION TURNED TO THE HEMISPHERE AND I ASKED WHITHER THEY SAW THE NATIONS OF THE CARIBBEAN MOVING TOWARD THE FORMATION OF A REGIONAL GROUPING WHICH MIGHT COME TO HAVE MORE PERTINENCE FOR THEM IN THE LONG TERM THAN THE OAS. CAMBRONNE SAID THAT THEY WERE LOOKING INTO THE POSSIBILITY ONB ASSOCIATING WITH CARIFTA, BUT IF THEY DECIDED TO PARTICIPATE IT WOULD NOT BE AS A “POOR RELATION”, BUT RATHER AS A FULL PARTNER. IMPLICATION IN CAMBRONNE’S REMARKS WAS CLEARLY THAT GOH RESENTED “POOR RELATION” STATUS RESERVED FOR THEM IN RECENT YEARS IN OAS.

6. SESSION WITH PRESIDENT DUVALIER AND HIS MINISTERS LASTED ALMOST AN HOUR AND, THOUGH FREEWHEELING AND OFTEN CANDID, ALMOST TO THE POINT OF BEING MUTUALLY CRITICAL, IT AMOUNTED, IN MY VIEW, TO A HEALTHY EXCHANGE. CAMBRONNE CONTINUES TO BE THE DOMINANT FIGURE IN THIS GOVERNMENT, BUT JEAN-CLAUDE IS MORE AND MORE SURE OF HIMSELF AND HAS JUST ABOUT OUTGROWN THE FIGUREHEAD ROLE.
KNOX

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 15–1 HAI. Confidential; Limdis. Repeated to Bogotá.
  2. Ambassador Knox reported that he met with President Duvalier and cabinet members Luckner J. Cambronne and Adrien Raymond, and they discussed bilateral assistance, given the new administration’s first year record.