266. Telegram From Secretary of State Muskie to the Department of State and the Embassy in Haiti1

Secto 8047. Subject: (U) Secretary’s Meeting With Haitian Foreign Minister Salomon, September 30, in New York.

1. (Secret—Entire text.)

2. Summary. Haitian FM Salomon asked for the following: (1) U.S.G. support for Haiti’s economic development and assistance in obtaining the cooperation of other governments and international institutions; (2) Increased foreign private investment; (3) Expanded bilateral economic development assistance, including a Title III PL 480 program; (4) Expanded Exim Bank loans; (5) Assistance in combatting drug trafficking; and (6) Visits by top-level administration and congressional officials. Secretary Muskie assured the GOH of the USG’s deep interest and continuing concern in the future welfare of Haiti. End summary.

3. Disaster Relief: FM Salomon, Haiti UN Perm Rep Coradin, and Haitian Ambassador to the U.S. Charles met with Secretary Muskie on September 30 in New York. Also participating were Ass’t Sec Bowdler and ARA/CAR Director Warne (notetaker). Salomon expressed the GOH’s gratitude for the USG’s immediate help and continued disaster and rehabilitation assistance in responding to the hurricane damage.2 Salomon said that the GOH and USG do not always see eye-to-eye on all issues of the North-South dialogue. But, nevertheless, the GOH is a staunch ally of the USG as its recent votes on the Iranian hostage and PLO representation issues indicate. Salomon asked that the USG also treat Haiti as an ally.

4. Human Rights: Salomon continued that the GOH firmly supports President Carter’s human rights policy. He believes the GOH human rights record is good, noting that there are no political prisoners in Haiti. The FM added that the Haitian people enjoy more freedom now than in the past, and President Duvalier was committed to liberalization. Salomon indicated that the Haitian people want to live in democracy and freedom, and the GOH is determined to provide such an environment.

5. Economic Reform: Salomon said that the GOH had asked the IMF to undertake a study of its fiscal problems, and the GOH had [Page 631] complied with 90 percent of the Fund’s recommendations, including reform of its budget and increased fiscal discipline. International economic assistance has been substantial but its results so far are not apparent and deeply felt, according to Salomon. Much of this assistance has been devoted to public works infrastructure projects and, as a result, takes considerable time to be completed. Salomon, nevertheless, pointed out that Haiti has made significant economic progress, increasing its per capita income from $60 per annum to over $200. But, most of the population still lives below the poverty line. Ambassador Charles pointed out that many Haitians do not have even one adequate daily meal. Salomon suggested that the way to stem the outflow of “boat people” was to provide increased economic opportunities, especially jobs. Secretary Muskie concurred.

6. GOH Requests: FM Salomon had several items he would like to ask of the USG: (A) The GOH needs support for its economic development program; not only does it need direct USG assistance but also USG cooperation in promoting assistance from other governments and international financial institutions; (B) The adverse image created by the “boat people” and other factors have caused foreign private investment to diminish. The GOH seeks USG help in promoting investment; (C) Increased bilateral economic assistance is needed; (D) The Export-Import Bank has adopted a stringent loan policy of only granting 90-day credits to Haiti; Exim only treats four countries to such tight terms; Salomon asked for the Department’s help in seeking Exim’s reconsideration of this policy; Warne proposed arranging an appointment for Ambassador Charles with appropriate Exim officials to discuss this matter; (E) Drug trafficking is increasing in Haiti because it is on a direct line between Latin America and the U.S.; the GOH is presenting to our Embassy at Port-au-Prince a request for increased assistance to check this traffic; and (F) The FM renewed his government’s invitation that President and Mrs. Carter visit Haiti after the President’s re-election.

7. USG Response: Secretary Muskie assured the FM of the USG’s deep interest and abiding concern in Haiti. The Secretary noted that the USG wanted to help with Haiti’s difficult economic problems, including facilitation of investments and bilateral aid. The Secretary indicated that the appointment of Finance Minister Bros was a favorable development because of the Bros’ reputation for sound fiscal management. The Secretary added that it was important that Haiti establish its eligibility for purchases from the IMF under the proposed new Extended Fund Facility. Mr. Muskie noted that IMF eligibility would stimulate confidence in Haiti and would make a favorable impression on the administration and Congress.

8. Secretary Muskie said that the “boat people” were a serious concern. It was imperative that economic opportunities be created so [Page 632] that this problem could be alleviated. These illegal immigrants created serious domestic political problems here, the Secretary added, noting that these illegal immigrants often became disillusioned. The Secretary noted that a joint effort was needed to resolve this problem; FM Salomon agreed.

9. PL 480: Secretary Muskie asked FM Salomon what was the status of Title III PL 480 negotiations. Salomon replied that at first the complex and stringent conditions were not well understood, but a series of working groups had been set up to clarify the issues. Salomon hoped that the negotiations would be concluded shortly. Warne indicated the USG hoped that the GOH would take the necessary measures to be in compliance with the IMF EFF; subsequently the USG would go ahead with final consideration of the Title III program. Warne noted that the USG wanted to complete the negotiations as soon as possible.

10. Political Reform: Secretary Muskie asked about the GOH’s plans for liberalizing its political process and carrying out economic reform. Salomon explained that the first priority must be the education of the Haitian people. Haiti had not enjoyed the benefits of a democratic heritage and lacked a well-developed administrative structure. As a result, the GOH is centralized and authoritarian in its orientation and depends on the army for support because of its lack of political institutions. Nevertheless, the GOH according to Salomon, is determined to find its own form of democracy. Salomon noted that Haiti had three political parties, but they had no experience in organizing and mobilizing support. He added that the most encouraging development was President Duvalier’s commitment to political liberalization and reform, including protection of human rights.

11. Economic Needs: Ambassador Charles added that the Haitian people do not give priority to political liberty but to economic opportunity. He believes the focus should be on improving the quality of life which is the basic want of 95 percent of the population. Haiti’s elite focuses on liberalization because they already enjoy economic benefits, but this is not representative of the broad base of the population. Charles suggested that senior administration officials should visit Haiti in order to appreciate the real needs of the people.

12. Secretary Muskie concluded by saying that the USG wishes Haiti well in its liberalization and economic development efforts. The USG will do all it can to be helpful. The Secretary noted that Haiti must also do its part, such as establishing a sound fiscal program and carrying out needed reforms.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800469–0536. Secret; Immediate. Repeated for information to USUN.
  2. Hurricane Allen caused high winds and flooding in Haiti in August, resulting in more than 200 dead and hundreds of thousands homeless.