The Withdrawal from Haiti

Singer Carmen Miranda becomes the face of FDR's Good Neighbor Policy.

THE American Government's official view regarding events in Haiti -- the view which guided the policy of the State Department from 1915 to within the last few weeks -- was that government had broken down in Haiti, that Haitian finances were in chaos, that foreign creditors were pressing, and that the United States was forced to intervene to straighten out the tangle. This invasion, vi et armis, was presented as altruistic, the extension of a helping hand to the helpless and hapless Haitian people.

The writer's contention as set forth in these pages [i] was, on the contrary, that the pressure of powerful private American interests with claims against the Haitian Government furnished the chief motivation for the intervention, and that these interests were able to utilize the naval and diplomatic forces of the United States to gain their ends. Summarized, this interpretation of the Haitian episode is that these claimants sought financial control of Haiti by the United States with a view to securing settlement of their claims, and failing in this endeavor through negotiation, succeeded in bringing about armed intervention. Then, by "military pressure," to use the exact words of Admiral Caperton, a treaty was imposed which gave the United States military and financial control and a pledge to settle foreign claims. Subsequently, when the Haitian Congress refused to adopt a constitution prepared in Washington, granting foreigners the right to own land for the first time in the history of Haiti, and placing the Marines' courts-martial above the Haitian courts in matters affecting the occupation, the Congress was dissolved by Generals Cole and Butler. The protocol arranging the settlement of claims and the contract for a loan to pay the claims were similarly imposed. The loan for $40,000,000 (of which $23,660,000 of six percent bonds was actually floated), dated 1922 and due in 1952, carried the further extraordinary provision that during the life of the loan United States financial control would continue. This was in effect an extension of the treaty for possibly sixteen years,

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