246. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • The Secretary’s Bilateral with Haitian Foreign Secretary Brutus


  • Haiti

    • Edner Brutus, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Haiti
    • Georges Salomon, Haitian Ambassador to the U.S.
  • U.S.

    • The Secretary
    • Assistant Secretary Todman, ARA
    • Ambassador William B. Jones
    • Gerald de Santillana, ARA/CAR (notetaker)
    • Ms. Sophia Porson (Interpreter)

Brutus expressed his government’s great appreciation for the invitation to attend the Panama Canal Treaty ceremonies in Washington.

He then reported that his government is planning a number of new measures to promote human rights in Haiti. It has just created a new civilian court to judge all persons accused of political or security offenses. All so-called political offenders will now be tried as expeditiously as possible, and either released or, if found guilty sentenced to fixed terms.

Brutus also reported the Haitian Government plans to adhere to the American Convention on Human Rights (the Pact of San Jose).2 He said he left instructions for implementing this before his departure from Haiti. In addition, he said President Duvalier told Ambassador Young of his plan to invite a mission of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission to visit Haiti.3 The Commission will be invited after Haiti has formally adhered to the Pact of San Jose. (NOTE: Brutus [Page 571] told Ambassador Jones September 5 that Haiti plans to complete adherence to the Pact of San Jose by November).

Brutus said he wished to assure the Secretary and the USG that his government is determined to do everything possible to make a “new style of life” in Haiti. His country experienced an “exceptional political situation” in the recent past (i.e., under the elder Duvalier). But circumstances have changed, and the GOH wishes to return to normality, including the observance of human rights traditional in Haiti since its independence. He asked only that an effort be made to understand the true situation in Haiti.

The Secretary said we are very gratified with the various measures Haiti is taking in the area of human rights. He also expressed appreciation for the very warm reception Ambassador Young received in Haiti.

Brutus said President Carter made an excellent choice in sending Ambassador Young to the Caribbean. Haiti, he said, is an old friend and faithful ally of the United States. In the past there have been misunderstandings, but these things happen among friends.

The Secretary stressed that the U.S. values its friendship with the government and people of Haiti. He expressed our deep appreciation for Brutus’s presence in Washington for the Canal Treaty ceremonies. Although ratification of the Treaties will not be easy, it will help for the world and the people of the United States to see the solidarity with which the nations of our hemisphere stand behind the Treaties.

Brutus said that Duvalier and his government regard the Treaty as a sign of a “new direction” of U.S. policy toward all countries of the hemisphere. As another component of this “new direction”, Brutus thought the establishment of our Caribbean Task Force an excellent idea. Already the U.S. had quickly responded through the Task Force to a Haitian request for help in replacing a critical bridge which collapsed recently in northern Haiti. (Brutus appeared to consider the Task Force as an immediate action organization with funds).

Brutus said there are a number of other topics his government would hope to discuss with the Caribbean Task Force, including Haiti’s needs in agriculture and education. Also the Task Force might help with the problem of the so-called Haitian refugees in the U.S., by assisting the Haitian Government create more jobs in Haiti. Since most of the refugees leave Haiti for economic reasons, (although some claim political asylum in the U.S. after their arrival here—in order to be allowed to remain), more jobs in Haiti is the best solution to the problem.

The Secretary asked how Brutus saw Haiti’s economic situation, and what his government’s development priorities are. Brutus said the economic situation in Haiti is very difficult, but the GOH has firm [Page 572] hopes of making progress, with the help of Haiti’s friends. He named increased agricultural production as his country’s key development need, including improved irrigation, improved farming methods, a fertilizer plant, and new water resources in the northwest. Haiti does not wish to have to call on its friends for emergency disaster relief every two years, he said.

The Secretary asked whether the GOH has obtained financing for the proposed fertilizer plant. Brutus replied it had not. He said he would be most grateful if our Caribbean Task Force could help on this matter. The Secretary said we will be sure the Task Force includes the Haitian fertilizer plant project in its work.

In conclusion, Brutus expressed his government’s appreciation for the assistance the U.S. has rendered Haiti. He also asked the Secretary to express to the President the hope of the Haitian Government that he and Mrs. Carter will be able to visit Haiti some day. Brutus said the GOH would also welcome a visit by the Secretary.

The Secretary said he would convey Brutus’s invitation to the President, and that he also hoped to be able to visit Haiti.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P770156–0899. Confidential. Drafted by de Santillana; cleared by Todman; approved in S/S on September 21. The meeting was held in the Secretary’s office.
  2. On September 27, Salomon deposited Haiti’s instrument of adherence to the American Convention on Human Rights. (Telegram 234322 to Port au Prince, September 29; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770355–0889)
  3. Ambassador Young met with Duvalier on August 16. During the meeting, Duvalier announced Haiti would receive a delegation from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. (Telegram 2983 from Port au Prince, August 16; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770295–0724) A Special Commission of the IAHRC visited Haiti August 16–25, 1978. It did not issue a report until December 1979. See Document 261.