417. Telegram 439 From the Embassy in Haiti to the Department of State1

439. Subject: Review of Issues Affecting U.S.-Haitian Bilateral Relations.

1. Summary: At the outset of 1976, in the Mission’s judgement, U.S.-Haitian relations remain steadily on course, and despite a mixed or unsatisfactory record in some areas, prospects are good for consolidating over the coming year the progress made in 1975 on several key issues. Areas of satisfactory progress included the following:

[Page 1073]

—Negotiation of a multifiber bilateral textile agreement (ending a year-long impasse) and conclusion of a new GOH-Reynolds bauxite contract (defusing a point of nationalistic confrontation with a transnational corporation).

—Reaffirming its commitment to economic development, the GOH has made larger contributions to its own development budget and has met its counterpart obligations to the U.S. and to other foreign aid donors.

—Haiti was continued to support U.S. positions in the UN and other international organizations, often standing apart from Third World majorities by doing so, and on basic foreign policy issues works in parallel with U.S.

—U.S.-Haitian cooperation on various security and legal matters has been growing closer.

—Our information and cultural diplomacy in Haiti has been thriving, generating many favorable responses.

—Haiti’s diplomatic representation in the U.S. has been vastly improved under Ambassador Salomon.

In other areas of bilateral interest, 1975 brought a mixed picture:

—The private sector of Haiti’s economy showed little new movement to accompany the rapid growth of official foreign aid; the GOH did not manage its beleaguered balance of payments or its regulated enterprises as skillfully as it might have; nor did it do its best to attract new private foreign investment.

—In the field of Human Rights, the GOH took some steps to rehabilitate normal processes of justice, and showed increasing tolerance for freedom of critical expression. It released some more political prisoners, and gave gentle treatment to the growing number of illegal emigrants being deported back to Haiti.

—Nevertheless, ever sensitive about foreign interference, the GOH did not do as much as it could have to convince doubting opinion in the U.S. and elsewhere that Haitians are now reasonably safe from arbitrary or violent treatment by their own government.

—Because of Haiti’s continued poverty and growing population, the pressures to emigrate to the U.S. are increasing inexorably. We are working hard to reduce the large volume of attempted visa pushing and visa fraud, with appreciable success. Though we recently encountered emotional outbursts privately expressed by key GOH officials, we believe they accept, at least for now, the manner in which the Embassy must handle visa matter. The GOH has generally retreated from its previous level of interference in individual cases.

—After a few lapses, we obtained improved GOH police cooperation on consular access to detained Americans and on the treatment of American pleasure craft in remote coastal areas.

[Page 1074]

Finally, there were some areas where our diplomatic efforts seem to have made little or no progress—calling perhaps for new types of approaches on our part:

—The handful of “perennial” U.S. investors’ disputes with the GOH remain at various stages of impasse, and one or two of them (whatever the flaws in their merits) could endanger Haiti’s continued eligibility for aid assistance and GSP if we do not manage to persuade the GOH to be more flexible and to renew a dialogue with the private parties.

—A continuing sore point with all concerned with Haiti’s development is the Duvalierists’ firm attachment to their “non-fiscalized” financial sector administered by the secretive Regie du Tabac. Some small movement toward diverting some of its resources openly for development purposes may be in the offing, but the Regie generally remains an untouchable instrument of personalist rule and a serious blemish on the GOH’s readiness to mobilize its own resources fully for constructive purposes.

Thus, with a number of unsettled issues and with growing areas of day-to-day U.S.-Haitian cooperation, the volume and scope of our bilateral relations are continuing to increase—in marked contrast to the period when “Papa Doc” Duvalier reduced bilateral relations to quasi-isolation. End summary.

[Omitted here is the remainder of the telegram.]

  1. Summary: The Embassy reported that U.S.-Haitian relations were on course and reviewed key issues in the bilateral relationship, including human rights, immigration, economic development, and investment disputes.

    Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D760059–0283. Confidential. Repeated to Santo Domingo and Kingston. All brackets are in the original except those indicating text omitted by the editors.