414. Telegram 351 From the Embassy in Haiti to the Department of State and the Department of Defense1

351. Subj: Haitian Government Takes Alarm Over Reported Cuban Plan to Attack Haiti.

1. At midday Feb 5 FonMin Brutus summoned me urgently to inform me that GOH had just received report from reliable source that Castro was actively planning an armed attack upon Haiti. In providing us with this information, Brutus said Pres Duvalier hoped GOH could rely on our help in dealing with any such contingency.

2. I pressed Brutus for details. He had none, but promised to provide them as soon as received. In confidence, when pressed further, he said that source for this report was Amb Valdez of Dominican Republic (protect) who had called on Brutus that very morning to convey this information. Valdez had promised that DR would aid GOH in repulsing any such Cuban attack, declaring that destinies of two countries on Hispaniola were linked. Valdez had advised Haitians to keep close watch on all their coasts.

3. In speculating as to Castro’s possible motivations for such an assault, Brutus suggested that the Cuban leader must be under intolerable pressure as a result of his Angolan gamble and hence could be capable of any act of folly. Castro’s dependence upon Soviets could be additional factor.

4. I commented that any Cuban overt armed attack upon Haiti, in contrast to the Angolan venture, would be difficult for Castro to rationalize in “revolutionary” terms and would undoubtedly be seen throughout Latin America as an act of pure aggression against an OAS member warranting recourse to Rio Treaty.

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5. I assured Brutus that GOH could count on our help as necessary and appropriate and said we would seek to verify this report by all available means.

6. Comment: Brutus (reflecting Duvalier) appeared to take this report extremely seriously, conditioned no doubt by his assumption of unyielding Cuban/Soviet hostility toward Haiti, and impressed by effectiveness of Cuban expeditionary force in distant Angola. Fact that DR Ambassador Valdez is a general—and former frontier guard commander—may add to report’s credibility in his eyes. We have had indications of a state of unusual activity among senior Haitian officers beginning late yesterday.

7. Action requested: Dept and Emb Santo Domingo are requested to comment and provide us with any relevant intelligence.

  1. Summary: Brutus informed Isham of a report that Cuba was planning an attack on Haiti and urgently requested U.S. assistance.

    Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D760044–0712. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Repeated Niact Immediate to Santo Domingo and the Naval Station at Guantánamo Bay. In telegram 30052 to Port-au-Prince, February 7, the Department reported that it had no information to indicate that Cuba was planning an attack on Haiti, adding that it considered such an attack unlikely and suggesting that the Embassy should couch its reply to any future Haitian Government inquiries on the subject “in terms of U.S. honoring its commitments under the Rio Treaty.” (Ibid., D760046–0870) In telegram 81894 to Port-au-Prince, April 6, the Department acknowledged continuing high-level Haitian concern about Cuba and expressed a desire “to put matter in perspective for GOH leaders,” noting that it might be possible “to increase somewhat visits by senior U.S. military officials and U.S. ships to Haiti” as a way to reassure Haitian leaders. (Ibid., D760128–0707)