248. Central Intelligence Agency Intelligence Information Cable1

TDFIR DB–315/12940–77


  • Haiti


  • 21 September–Late October 1977
[Page 579]


  • Apparent Deception of President Jean Claude Duvalier on the Issue of Human Rights


  • [less than 1 line not declassified]


  • [5 lines not declassified]

1. In late September 1977, General Gracia Jacques, head of the Palace Guard, said [less than 1 line not declassified] that the release of political prisoners on 21 September2 had been set up to make the U.S. Government (USG) believe that President Jean Claude Duvalier was liberalizing his regime when in fact about 80 percent of the prisoners released were common criminals. According to Jacques, Duvalier believes that the USG’s current emphasis on human rights will pass in a few years. In the meantime, Duvalier will give public allegiance to liberalizing his regime while he keeps the political prisoners hidden, releases a few petty thieves now and then, and continues to deceive the USG. ([less than 1 line not declassified] Comment: [less than 1 line not declassified], dated 27 September 1977,3 [less than 1 line not declassified], also reported that 80 percent of the prisoners were common criminals and the remaining were well known for their opposition to Duvalier; it also reported that the release was a part of the Government of Haiti (GOH) plan to appear sincere in its human rights efforts, particularly following the visit to Haiti of the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.4 The Department of State had the following comments on [less than 1 line not declassified]5 The Embassy in Haiti maintains a careful check on the political prisoners there and, according to Embassy information, at least 40 of the 103 individuals released were guaranteed political prisoners and several more could be shown as political prisoners. In addition, 20 of those released were hard core, violence prone extremists and their release came as a surprise.)

2. Jacques said that some of the political prisoners had been killed and that the others were hidden in remote jails throughout the countryside where no one knew of their existence. ([less than 1 line not declassi[Page 580]fied] Comment: The timing of these deaths was not discussed, but it is probable that they took place over a period of time, rather than recently. The source described in the Field Comment of paragraph one of this report said recently that Colonel Jean C. Valme, Chief of the Internal Security Service, indicated during a confidential discussion that some political prisoners had been sent to jails in the countryside and some were in such bad mental condition that they themselves were not certain of their identity. This source also said that Duvalier was considering the possibility of abolishing completely the Ton Ton Macoute (TTM) organization in an effort to further deceive the USG of his real intentions regarding human rights.) Jacques added that Duvalier’s comments on 22 September welcoming Haitian exiles to come back were merely to deceive the public since the President is aware that none of the exiles will return because they realize that to do so would be risking prison.

3. Jacques said that he had recently discussed with the President and others the activities of Jean Dominique, reporter of Radio Haiti who has been relatively aggressive in recent news conferences with Duvalier, asking the President embarrassing questions concerning human rights in Haiti. Duvalier believes that Dominique is a Communist. Jacques thinks Dominique is trying to develop a revolution and said that “they would get him first.” Jacques added that he would not be surprised if Dominique had a fatal accident in the near future.

4. Field Dissem: [less than 1 line not declassified]

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Pastor, Country, Box 24, Haiti, 1/77–12/79. Secret; Priority; Not Releasable to Foreign Nationals; Not Releasable to Contractors or Contractor/Consultants.
  2. The Haitian Government released 104 political prisoners on September 21 to commemorate 20 years of Duvalierist rule. The next day, Duvalier gave a speech in which he claimed that there were no more political prisoners in Haiti. (Telegram 3590 from Port au Prince, September 22; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770345–0934)
  3. Not found.
  4. See footnote 3, Document 246.
  5. Not found.