Quo Vadis, Haiti?

Courtesy Reuters

THE Haitian problem has not been settled by the President's Commission. What we did was to suggest steps to be taken to restore to the Haitian people as rapidly as may be, and in any event by 1936 (the date of the expiration of our treaty with Haiti), complete control over their own affairs.

The political compromise by which the presidential succession was arranged and the reëstablishment of the legislative branch of the government provided for were incidental to the main task entrusted to the Commission by President Hoover. We were given no written instructions except a copy of the President's statement of February 4, 1930, in which he announced his intention of appointing a commission. But Mr. W. Cameron Forbes, who was subsequently named chairman, and I were summoned to Washington before the personnel of the Commission was announced, and we discussed very fully with the President and the Acting Secretary of State the work which the President desired us to do. We were to study the situation in Haiti and to formulate our national policy with respect to that republic. We were given an absolutely free hand.

As the readers of FOREIGN AFFAIRS will recall, the grewsome events of 1915 in Haiti marked the close of a decade of progressive political disintegration, culminating in our intervention. Black Democracy had failed. The second republic in the western world to declare and maintain its independence was politically and financially bankrupt. There had been seven Presidents in seven years. Simon served two years and seven months and was deposed; Leconte served one year and was blown up; Auguste, after serving nine months, died in office; Oreste, the first civilian President, resigned after eight months and went into exile; Zamor served nine months and was then deposed by Theodore, who was in turn overthrown three months later by Sam; after serving four months Sam was literally dismembered by the mob, as the result of a jail massacre of over 160 of his political opponents whom he had

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