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Being the report of a Committee of Six disinterested Americans representing organizations exclusively American, who, having personally studied conditions in Haiti in 1926, favor the restoration of the Independence of the Negro Republic
EMILY GREENE BALCH
THE WRITERS PUBLISHING COMPANY, Inc. 1927
Copyright, 1927, by THE WRITERS PUBLISHING COMPANY, Inc.
Set up, electrotyped, printed and bound in the U. S, A. by
T. J. LITTLE i- IVES COMPANY, NEW YORK
How perfectly obvious it always is to any comfortable, wealthy or scholarly mind that a high order of wisdom and goodness, higher even perhaps, than that of of his own people must precede the grant of liberty.
iSidney George Fisher, The True History of the American Revolution, p. 203.
No community of people, naturally separated from others geographically, or by race, trade, or any strong circumstances, ever willingly remains a colony.
There will always be a loyalist party, just as there will always be a certain number of individuals who prefer to live in lodgings, or in other people's houses, and do not want a family. ... It is a question of mere calculation for the dominant country how much military force must be used to encourage the loyalist and keep the patriot party below the line of hope; for in colonies, loyalty, like Napoleon's providence, is altogether a question of the heavy artillery.
Sidney George Fisher, The True History of the American Revolution, p. 428.
In 1925 the international office of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom was asked by certain of its Haitian members to look into conditions in Haiti. The International Executive Committee at its meeting in July of that year then asked its United States section to take the matter up, and as a result a committee of six was organized, which sailed for Haiti on February 19, 1926.
This committee consisted of two representatives of the United States Section of the W. I. L. P. F., two representative colored women, a professor of economics representing the Foreign Service Committee of the Society of Friends, and a representative of the Fellowship of Reconciliation.
They made every effort to meet informants of different shades of opinion. They talked with business men and with chance acquaintances of many types including French priests, Protestant missionaries, technical employees of the Occupation, and Haitian teachers, professors and doctors. They received most valuable information from various American officials, including Dr. Butler and Dr. Schmidt of Port-au-Prince, of the Medical Service; Dr. Freeman, of the Agricultural Service; officers of the Gendarmerie and, above all, General John H. Russell, American High Commissioner, and Dr. W. W. Cumberland, Financial Adviser.
They, desire to express their deep appreciation and their thanks to the officials of the American Occupation who, while leaving them completely free to direct their own investigations and distribute their own time, could not have been franker or more generous in opening up sources of information to them.
They also desire heartily to thank their numerous Haitian friends, who were most helpful in every way, who gave generously of their time and their hospitality, and put their knowledge of conditions in their country freely at their visitors' disposal.
Before sailing and since returning to this country, members of the Committee have taken pains to meet at many persons as possible, official and unofficial, among those best fitted to criticize their conclusions and suggest other points of view. They especially wish to thank the Secretary of State and various members of the State Department, various officers in the Navy and the Marine Corps, and several Senators, in particular Senator King, of Utah, for their kindness in giving time to speaking with them of Haitian questions.
It is obvious that a brief stay in Haiti was quite inadequate for anything like a thorough study of Haitian problems, even though different members of the party devoted themselves to different aspects of these, and observation on the spot was supplemented by study before and after the visit to Haiti.
The members of the Committee believe, however, that what they have learned gives a proper basis for such a report as they here present, which makes no pretense to cover the ground, and which concludes by urging among other things the need of a fuller, a
practical and, above all, an official study of the situation in Haiti.
Even more than they anticipated they found the problem in Haiti to consist not in individual instances of misused power, but in the fundamental fact of the armed occupation of the country. Any good done by high-minded officials does not touch this bottom fact, and by men's reaction to this fact will their opinions as to Haiti be shaped.
Whether or not the United States was justified in entering Haiti as it did, whether or not the Treaty authorizing the continuance of the Occupation was fairly and freely obtained, whether or not the prolongation of the Occupation from 1926 to 1936 has any legal Treaty basis or not, are questions on which the following pages may throw some light.
This report also throws light, from various angles, on the question whether the United States should renew the Treaty, or should withdraw just as soon as may be consistent with leaving the Haitians in a position to resume independent self-government. The undersigned are unanimously in favor of such earlier withdrawal for reasons given in the body of the report and, in summary form and together with certain detailed recommendations, in the last chapter.
They believe that their report shows the need for a well-considered and carefully planned program of progressive steps toward self-government, and especially for the reestablishment of an elected legislature, so that Haiti may be as well prepared as possible to stand on her own feet.
They believe that they are suggesting something obviously reasonable, therefore, when they urge that
an official committee be sent now to Haiti to study the transition arrangements in conference with the men who must work them; that is, with leading Haitians and American officials,and that this should be completed later, after an elected legislature is at work, by the final arrangements under which Haiti will begin the second chapter of her Independence.
Charlotte Atwood, Wellesley B.A. 1903; Teacher of English, Dunbar High School, Washington, D. C.
Zonia Baber. Chicago, S.B.; formerly Professor of Geography in the University of Chicago School of Education.
Emily Greene Balch, A.B.; Wellesley, Mass.; Member of the International Executive Committee of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and Vice-President of the U. S. Section.
Paul H. Douglas, A.B,, PhD.; Chicago, 111.; Professor of Industrial Relations at the University of Chicago, representing the Foreign Service Committee of the Society of Friends (Quakers).
Mrs. Addie Hunton, Brooklyn; President International Council of Women of the Darker Races; Vice-President, National Association of Colored Women.
Mrs. J. Harold Watson, Germantown, Pa.; representing the Fellowship of Reconciliation.
I Something of the Background i
II The Political History of the Occupation .......... 15
III Economic and Financial Aspects 37
IV Land and Living....... 57
V Notes on the Land Situation ... 65
VI Agriculture and the Occupation 82
VII Health and Sanitation..... 86
VIII Problems of Education..... 93
IX Public Works........ 109
X Racial Relations....... 113
XI Charges of Abuse...... 122
XII Public Order........ 128
XIII Judiciary and Civil Liberty 136
XIV The Press and the Prison .... 143 XV Conclusions and Recommendations 149
Appendix A The Law in the Case 163
Appendix B Chronological Summary 166
Appendix C A Haitian View of the Occupation ....... 175
SOMETHING OF THE BACKGROUND
By Emily Greene Balch
Before the events of 1915, when the United States occupied Haiti, the island was not much in the minds of our people, and although we bear a direct responsibility for conditions there, and have every reason to feel concern, it is not much in our minds today. A friend just returned from a West Indian cruise said to me the other day, "Americans in Haiti? I never heard of that. Why are they there? When did they go?"
Yet this country, the independent sovereignty of which is solemnly recognized by the United States, as well as by all other countries, and which is a full member of the League of Nations, has been occupied by the United States by force of arms, kept down by force of arms, and administered for 11 years, at a very considerable money cost to ourselves as tax payers and a much heavier cost, both in the world at large and more especially in Latin America, to our standing as a respecter of the liberties of others.
The most disconcerting aspect of the whole affair is that it is possible to do what has been done in
Haiti, directly contrary as it is to all our principles and professions, without any popular demand for such action, without its ever being proposed or debated beforehand, and with so little realization in the United States that it has been done. The lack of any knowledge of Haiti is the more surprising in that though small, it is a country of unique interest, the second republic to be established in the New World, and in 1915 the only politically independent country with a population of negro race, with the exception of remote Abyssinia.
Here, in 1492, Columbus landed, and named the island, called Haiti by the Indians, Hispaniola, or Little Spain. The Indian population melted away under Spanish oppression, and in 1505 there began the importation of negroes from Africa to supply slave labor for the Spaniards.1
In the last years of the XVIIth century, when piracy flourished, French buccaneers settled in Haiti and on the small adjacent islands, the Tortugas. Gradually this French occupation extended, and changed its character till the western part of the island grew to be a colony of the French, who called it Saint Domingue, and in 1697 secured from Spain its recognition as a French possession, in the treaty of Ryswick. It was exploited by the owners of rich plantations worked by negro slaves. The population was made up as follows:
(1) Frenchmen born in France, or in Haiti ("Creoles") ; government officials, planters, and men of smaller means and less social importance called "petits blancs" ("small whites"). See also Appendix B.
SOMETHING OF THE BACKGROUND 3
(2) "Affranchis" or freedmen, sons of white fathers and African or mulatto mothers. These connections were common, as there were relatively few white women in Haiti, and it was, moreover, felt to be a sort of insurance to have a colored mistress or concubine, who could be relied on to give information of any plotting or intended uprising. Haitians of mixed blood had considerable advantages. They were often rich landowners, sending their sons to France to be educated and to serve in the army. They were, however, excluded from public office and some occupations, and were often subject to sumptuary laws intended to keep them from rising too far.
(3) Slaves, both household slaves, and field hands. These were ordinarily of unmixed African blood, subject to overwork, and gross and often sadistic cruelty, especially at the hands of negro overseers.
The numbers of the three classes in 1789 were estimated to be whites, 40,000; freedmen, 40,000; negro slaves, 70o,ooo.2
During the American Revolution 800 Haitians, mulattoes and negroes volunteered in the American cause, and fought at the siege of Savannah under Comte d'Estaing.
In the period of the French Revolution, and stirred by its doctrines of liberty and equality, the colored population of Haiti rose in revolt. The freedmen moved first, then the whole colored population mulattoes and full-blooded negroes, freedmen and slaves, making common cause. They drove out or killed all the French whites, and made themselves free, and Haiti an independent country. Napoleon tried to
'Johnson Cyclopedia, 1879 edition. Art. Hayti.
reconquer the island but negro soldiers, aided by fever and climate, defeated his troops, which surrendered to the British. Haitians date their independence and national history from January i, 1804.
It has frequently been said that Haiti has been retrograding, and that the population has been continuously falling back into degradation and African superstition.
This seems to be a distorted picture.
When the whites were driven out there was an immense loss at the top. The veneer of Europeanism passed away. "All the magnificent sugar houses, mills, the very towns were one mass of ruins." 3 On the other hand, hundreds of thousands of men and women passed from a cruel and debasing type of tropical slavery to freedom, personal and political, and undertook the guidance of their own destinies with a most enlarging sense of their own valor, initiative and capacity. Was the country then as a whole on a higher or a lower level ?
The descendants of some 700,000 former slaves and 40,000 mulatto freedmen, cut adrift from their own racial inheritance and, except for a few of the freedmen class, never far initiated into that of Europe, accordingly set out to create a State for themselves, refusing all offers of foreign protection. Government, institutions, lawseverything had to be created afresh. Few had an experience of administration. The bases of constitutional government, as they have been slowly worked out in Europe, were inevitably almost wholly lacking.
'Haiti. Her History and her Detractors. J. N. Leger, formerly Haitian Minister at Washington. P. 293.
SOMETHING OF THE BACKGROUND 5
A mere fringe were able to speak anything but the patois of simplified French with African intermixture known as Haitian creole, or had access to any education*
Religion was free, but there developed the old quarrel between the Roman Catholic church and the State, which was not settled till i860, when a Concordat opened the way for the Vatican to establish a regular church organization in Haiti, and give the scattered and primitive peasants the benefit of the teaching of the priesthood and of devoted men and women, members of French religious teaching orders.
Cultivation of the land was carried on by the former slaves, largely working for themselves on the same ground on which they had formerly worked under white masters, and became a very primitive affair. Few Haitians had any experience of management or enterprise. The masses had no experience even of self-directed labor. The material framework of the plantation system was destroyed, as we have seen, devastated by both sides, as in all wars. Roads, bridges, aqueducts were inevitably neglected, and in a tropical climate, with its heavy rains, crumbled fast into ruins. There was no large scale production and landlordism did not grow to be important.
There continued to be a marked division between the mass of the country folk and the so-called "elite." The latter, derived from the former freedmen class, lived in the towns, spoke French, and kept in more or less direct touch with France. They were at once sons of the old plantation owners, loving power and display,
4 Even today it is estimated that only three in a hundred of the population of Haiti can read and write.
and sons of the French Revolutionists, full of noble dreams of human liberty and the rights of man.
The mass of the people were perhaps quite as remote from this class as these were from their French fathers. The African inheritance was very much alive (and still is, although of course much weakened), and most curiously combined with Christian and other European elements. The old French tradition is even today stronger than one might suppose.
A young Haitian doctor told of peasants on what used to be the estate of his French ancestors, dancing for him first their African dances and then, quite unexpectedly, a French minuet, figure after figure, with all the proper movements.
"It was very pretty," he said, "and you must not think that because they cannot read and write, the peasants know nothing. They have their code and their learning, but it is through tradition. It is interesting to see an old man gather his children about him in the evening, and instruct them in behavior. He tells them that on such and such an occasion, this is the way to act, and this is the way to meet such a predicament. And the youngest children can count. They will never make a mistake, for it is something that they find it useful to know."
The old African ceremonies, commonly known as Voodoo, were deliberately employed in the closing days of slavery by those who were planning the insurrection as a means of bringing the people together. When the conspirators became the authorities, they tried to put down what had proved to be such a convenient instrument of revolution, and of course priests and teachers have done their best to root out superstitious
SOMETHING OF THE BACKGROUND 7
practices but naturally, given the conditions, without complete success.
This is the background against which the history of Haiti's in years of independence must be read. It is full of incongruities, contrasts, anachronisms. There
many touching stories of heroism, patriotic devotion, efforts for the public good; of gentleness, chivalry and generosity; and again there are instances of barbarity, childishness, venality and gross tyranny. It was natural that there should be an even greater discrepancy than is usual in political life, (and that is saying a great deal), between fact and the phrases of speeches, laws and constitutions which were largely inspired by the generous, but sometimes windy ideals of revolutionary France.
The contrasting elements that enter into Haitian history, and its hurrying incidents, make it picturesque but also confused. It is hard to disentangle what is significant in this welter of personal fortunes. It is all capable of being interpreted either in a comic or a tragic sense, according as one takes it. The comic presentation is the cheaper, and has been popular among outsiders. Of all the black man's burdens perhaps the most tragic is that the uncultivated white man finds him funny. All peoples who have known oppression suffer something of thisthe Jew, (the most tragic figure in history), the Irishman, the educated Hindu, (compare Kipling's Babus), but none in such measure as the negro. There are many white men who conceive of themselves as men of the world who yet find it impossible to take seriously any man of a darker race than their own.
After the declaration of Haitian Independence on
January i, 1804, Dessalines, an ex-slave and a leading general in the war, was the first ruler. Toussaint l'Ouverture, best known among the rulers of Haiti, had previously died in a French prison.
From 1806 to 1843 President Petion, and his successor, President Boyer, tried to realize liberal ideas, and create a stable republican government resting on peasant proprietors, in a territory embracing at first only the southwestern part of Haiti, and later all of Haiti, after the death in 1820 of Christophe, another general of the War of Independence who had created a despotic kingdom in the northern part of the country.
One of the finest incidents of Haitian history is the aid rendered by President Petion to Bolivar, the great champion of South American independence, at a period when Bolivar's cause was at a very low ebb, and Petion's own situation precarious. This aid was given on condition that slavery should be abolished in Venezuela and in whatever states should come under the flag of independence. Petion did not dare to let himself be publicly thanked for this act for fear of bringing new dangers upon Haiti.
During the last part of this period (1822-1843) the Spanish-speaking two-thirds of the island, to the east, which was previously a Spanish colony, spontaneously joined the Republic of Haiti. In 1844 it again separated, and became what it still is, the independent, Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic, or Santo Domingo.
Under President Boyer, the Civil Code, Code of Civil Procedure, Penal Code, etc., were promulgated, the model being, of course, France. After his resignation, under revolutionary pressure, a new Constitution
SOMETHING OF THE BACKGROUND 9
was adopted, the main principles of which continued in force, even under the various new Constitutions which followed from time to time.5
It provided for trial by jury, popular election of judges, presidency for a limited term instead of for life, ministerial responsibility. The Senate and House of Representatives were both given the right to initiate legislation. It provided for an annual budget and a court of accounts. Measures to secure personal freedom and respect of property were passed. The army was made subject to the law.
All this was excellent on paper. Unfortunately, as everyone knows, the history of Haiti came to be a history of revolutions, and the successive rulers, whether or not they called themselves presidents, were often military adventurers. This is too common a phenomenon in Latin America to be surprising. Those in power were apt to evoke resentment, often only too just, and to depend on force to maintain themselves. It was not hard for a disaffected "general" to get a following and come down through the mountainous country of the north, seize the capital, Port-au-Prince, and become president. Interested foreigners often supplied funds for such adventures, doubtless for a quid pro quo from the new administration.
The frequency of these disorders can be seen in the Chronological Table and it was a particularly barbaric outbreak of violence in Port-au-Prince which, in July, 1915, furnished at least the pretext for the landing of United States Marines.
Naturally the frequent disorders were costly in every way, though the loss of life, taking the century together, I^eger, loc. cit., p. 193.
is said not to have equaled the number killed by the United States in suppressing the uprising which grew out of the use of forced labor in road making, and the lives and property of foreigners seem to have been scrupulously protected, if only for fear of consequences.
Public order suffered. Peasants were seized and made to serve as soldiers; women going to market were rifled. The expenses of revolution, and of all that went with it and followed after it, ate up the money that should have gone to much needed improvements, above all to roads. The country was saddled with corrupt and extravagant concessions, and foreign loans on which interest had to be promptly paid, lest an excuse be given for foreign intervention.
As in Europe, there was no development of a two-party system such as has evolved in Great Britain and the United States. Liberalism, indeed, appears as a political platform, sometimes seriously meant, sometimes as mere camouflage; but there seems to have been little party continuity, and a constant succession of rival leaders and their partisans.
In administration it was impossible to keep any effective control over local affairs, which were likely to be in the hands of petty military despots. Great as were the efforts of the best class of leaders to stem the tide, militarism of a Latin American type, together with corruption, grew rankly.
Of those who took part in revolutionary movements, some at least did so with the honest belief that they were serving their country by overthrowing a usurper. The crux of the whole situation in countries situated as was Haiti, is, of course, the difficulty of developing either a tradition or a political mechanism strong
SOMETHING OF THE BACKGROUND n
enough to prevent, in a constitutional way, an ambitious man who once acquires power from keeping control indefinitely, as Diaz did in Mexico. This leaves the alternative of revolution or acquiescence in tyranny.6
Such conditions were not favorable to bridging the chasm between the "elite" and the people. Americans, as well as the Haitians themselves, condemn, and with good ground, the way in which before the Occupation the interests of the peasants were sacrificed to those of the upper classes, in taxation, for instance; and of the neglect of education, health, roads and, generally, of the welfare of the poor and weak. It is, however, fair to remember that an enlightened social conscience has been a slow and halting growth everywhere, and rather particularly so in France, to which Haiti looks as a model.
Philanthropy in Haiti means old-fashioned charity, generous but unscientific. Haiti is not, however, in spite of its poverty, a country of beggary.
One gets the impression that in spite of all the current stories to the contrary, and in spite of chaotic political conditions, life and property were on the whole singularly safe. Couriers carrying money would make regular and perfectly well-known trips from one town to another, as, for instance, from Saint Marc to Port-au-Prince, with astonishing safety. An English journalist, Mr. Pritchard, writing in 1910, traveled all about the island alone, and his main inconvenience seems to have been the too insistent hospitality of the natives.
Mrs. Helen Hill Weed, wife of a mining engineer "For details see Appendix B.
and geologist, testified in 1925 before a Senate Sub-Committee that, in 1906, nine years before the Occupation, when "there probably weren't more than 75 or 100 white people in Haiti," she traveled on horseback "all through the mountains where the cacos [bandits] are supposed to kill people on sight, and found the Haitians always kind and courteous." 7
Similarly Mr. Roger L. Farnham, of the National City Bank of New York, testified before the McCor-mick Senatorial Commission: "Before the American Occupation there was never any danger to a white man who traveled in the country. I have been through while the revolutions were on and a white man was not molested. If he kept out of the mess himself and minded his own business he was perfectly safe." 8
In spite too of the many difficulties improvements were made. The only famous architectural monuments of Haiti are the ruins of the extraordinary palace and citadel built by Christophe in the first era of Independence.9 But there were also creditable modern buildings, public and private. President Hyppolite, (1889-1896), and some of the other presidents, employed themselves in securing wharves, bridges, market buildings, public waterworks, telegraph lines, a cable, telephones, and electric lighting. Unfortunately the improvements made were mainly such as benefited the
* Foreign Loans: Hearing before the Subcommittee of the Committee on Foreign Relations. U. S. Senate, 68th Congress, Second Session, pursuant to S. Con. Res. 22, Feb. 25 and 26, 1925. P. 71.
'Hearings before the McCormick Commission, p. 114. (Select Committee on Haiti and Santo Domingo, U. S. Senate, 67 Congress, First Session, pursuant to S. Res. 112. 1921.)
"For a vivid description of these see Blair Niles, Black Haiti, 1926.
SOMETHING OF THE BACKGROUND 13
town dweller, while the roads, so much needed throughout the country, were neglected.10 There was also too much graft connected with it all. This was notably true of the railroads, which are so built as to be almost useless, although they involve a considerable financial burden on the country.11
One ugly feature of Haitian history is the series of bullying exploits of foreign powers at the expense of a country too small to resist.12 It is a pleasure to read of at least one instance where the United States, represented by Secretary Bayard, dropped a claim which it had been pressing, as unjust.13
The United States was slow to recognize Haiti, and it was not till after slavery was abolished in the United States that diplomatic relations with the republic of former slaves were established, and a treaty of amity negotiated. In 1909 the United States ratified an arbitration treaty with Haiti. It is still in force, but it is a treaty of the old incomplete type, exempting disputes affecting vital interests, honor or independence, or the interest of third parties. In any case such a treaty, or any other, is now useless to Haiti, so far as regards complaints against the United States, since action would have to be taken by the Haitian government, which is equivalent to saying by the United States itself.
It is interesting to note that President Geffrard,
"Vincent and Bellegarde, L'Annee Enfantine d'Histoire et de Geographie d'Haiti, Brussels, 1924; p. 73. See the Chronological Table for other items as to improvements. For health and education see the chapters on these subjects.
11 See Chap. II.
u Leger, loc. cit., especially chapters 18 and 19. "Loc. cit., pp. 232-34, 238-39.
(1858-1867), endeavored to neutralize the whole island (that is, both Haiti and Santo Domingo), but failed for lack of support from the United States.14
Haiti being an original member of the League of Nations, as signatory to the Peace Treaty, her representatives at Geneva have made an excellent impression in the Assembly, out of all proportion to the political insignificance of the country.
But in 1915 the story of Haiti was cut across by the military intervention of the United States, a careful account of which will be found in the next chapter.
It is obvious that one's reaction to this whole situation will depend on one's basic political ideas, one's entire scale of human values, especially on the value one gives to freedom in the sense of national independence, and finally, on one's attitude toward the advantages of "good government" forcibly imposed by aliens and by aliens who are financially interested.
"Loc. cit., p. 207.
THE POLITICAL HISTORY OF THE OCCUPATION,
By Paul H. Douglas
For over a year prior to the formal American intervention in July, 1915, the government of the United States had been attempting to negotiate a treaty with the Haitian republic which would have placed the collection of the Haitian customs in the hands of the American government. Special commissions were sent to Haiti during the first part of 1915 to secure such an agreement, but failed to secure the acceptance of the proposal by the Haitian government. The probable reasons for such a demand are not very clear, since practically all of the external debt was held in France, while the Haitians had, moreover, met virtually all of the interest payments, and were only in default for some of the amortization payments. The only justifiable excuse for such a request would have been to forestall any attempt at financial intervention on the part of France.
There were, however, two other sources of economic friction between the Haitian and the American governments ; namely, the disputes between the Haitian government and the National Bank of Haiti, and that with the National Railroad Company.
The bank had been apparently anxious for some time to secure American control over the Haitian customs, since a message from the United States Minister in Haiti to our State Department in July, 1914, stated that the bank was planning to refuse to renew the budgetary convention, in order that the Haitian government should be rendered financially helpless, and be compelled to ask for American assistance. The salient passages in this communication are:1
"If then, at the end of the fiscal year, on September 30, the bank shall not have renewed the convention, the government will find itself without funds of any sort, and with no income, and undoubtedly will find it most difficult to operate. The statement that the government, in the absence of a budget convention, will be without income is based upon the fact that under the terms of the Loan Contract of 1910, the bank is designated as the sole treasury of the government, and as such receives all moneys of the government, and further, is empowered to hold such moneys intact until the end of the fiscal year, which, in this particular case, would be September 30, 1915.
"There is nothing in the loan contract providing for advancements by fhe bank, and the convention bud-getaire has been in the nature of an accommodation extended by the bank. As before stated, the suspension of the convention budgetaire most likely would bring the government to a condition where it could not operate.
"It is just this condition that the bank desires, for it is the belief of the bank that the government when confronted by such a crisis, would be forced to ask the 1 See Foreign Relations, 1914, p. 346.
POLITICAL HISTORY OF OCCUPATION 17
assistance of the United States in adjusting its financial tangle and that American supervision of the customs would result."
The clear implication of this was that the bank intended to impound the governmental receipts for the entire year from September 30, 1914, to September 30, 1915, and to advance them nothing from these moneys in the meantime. The bank claimed in defense of this position that they were not obligated by the Agreement of 1910 to pay out the revenues as received.
On October 1, the American Minister reported that the bank had refused to renew the convention, and that the government was planning to issue paper money in order to meet expenses. The bank protested against this projected issue. Continual trouble with the bank and the expense caused by another revolution during the last week of October led the government to try to get possession of the balance of a $2,000,000 fund which the government had deposited in the bank for the purpose of redeeming the paper currency. This redemption had been postponed, and the balance of the ear-marked funds had, apparently, been at. least partially employed by the bank, and by its chief owner, the Banque de l'Union Parisienne, in its ordinary banking business, without paying interest to the government.
The government wished to secure possession of this balance, but the bank claimed that since this money was ear-marked for the specific purpose of redeeming the paper money they could not, in their position as trustee, permit the government to use it.
In December, 1914, trie Haitian government tried to use force to secure possession of these funds, but at the request of the bank the United States cruiser Machias
was sent to Port-au-Prince. Marines were landed and $500,000 of the reserve was transferred from the bank to the Machias, and taken to New York, where it was deposited with the National City Bank. In 1919 this was returned with 2 per cent interest. This was a higher rate than would have been obtained had the money been left in the vaults of the Haitian bank, but it was considerably less than the market rate for such long-time deposits.
The second dispute was with the National Railroad of Haiti. This company in 1910 secured a concession from the Haitian government for a railroad from Port-au-Prince to Cap Haitien, which was to be composed of 21 sections. The Haitian government in turn agreed to guarantee 6 per cent interest on the cost of constructing the road up to a maximum of $32,500 a mile. The man who engineered this contract through was an American adventurer by the name of James P. Mac-Donald, who originally seems to have been acting on his own responsibility. Three unconnected spurs of the railroad were built at a total alleged cost of approximately $3,600,000. The Haitian government, after making one or two interest payments in 1913, refused to make further payments, on the ground that the railroad, by failing to construct the agreed-upon number of sections, had failed to fulfill its contract.
Mr. R. L. Farnham, who was president of the railroad and an employee and later a vice-president of the National City Bank, replied, on the other hand, that it had been the revolutions which had prevented further construction, and that consequently the company was not responsible for the failure to complete.
During the latter part of 1914 and the first part of
POLITICAL HISTORY OF OCCUPATION 19
1915, the correspondence of the United States Department of State shows it to have been exerting its influence in favor of the National Railroad, the bonds of which were owned in France and in the United States, but which was managed in the United States by representatives of the National City Bank.
During the months of June and July, 1915, a revolutionary movement developed in the North against President Guillaume Sam, and several towns were seized by the revolutionists. On July 27, a popular uprising in Port-au-Prince itself drove the President from the Presidential Palace to the French Legation, where he sought sanctuary. A large number of the President's political opponents were confined in the national prison, and the commander of the prison, General Oscar, then murdered no less than 164 of them. This so infuriated the populace of the city, who believed that the massacre had been committed by the order of the President, that a mob invaded the French legation, murdered Guillaume Sam, and, tearing his body to pieces, marched through the streets of the city with the dismembered parts.
At this juncture, the U. S. S. Washington arrived under the command of Admiral Caperton. A force of sailors and marines was landed, and the city was policed. Revolutionary bands were disarmed and order was restored.
But the American forces did not retire when this had been accomplished. They interested themselves in the election of a President by the National Assembly, and the candidate favored by the Americans, Philip Sudre Dartiguenave, was chosen by that body. Amer-
ican influence seems actively to have been used in his favor.
Almost immediately after his election, the American State Department urged upon the Haitian government a Treaty which not only provided that the collection of customs should be in the hands of an American appointed by the President of the United States, but that a Financial Adviser should also be appointed by the United States. A gendarmerie manned by Haitians, but officered by Americans appointed by the United States, was also provided for in the Treaty, and, in addition, American control over sanitation and public works was also demanded.
The excuse which is generally given for the American occupation of Haiti is that it was necessary to prevent foreign intervention. Thus Secretary Lansing, in his letter to the McCormick Committee,2 declared that it was "designed to prevent the Germans from using Haiti as a submarine basis," yet virtually all of the German cruisers had been swept from the seas by the summer of 1915.
There is little or no evidence to indicate either that this would have been possible or that any steps had been taken by the Germans in this direction. Americans in Haiti, on the other hand, say that our intervention was necessary to prevent the French from actively interfering. This again ignores the fact that the French were so burdened with military problems in 1915 as to prevent their turning their energies to Haiti. A small force of French sailors were, it is true, landed at Cap Haitien in June, to protect property, but they
"See Report of McCormick Committee. Senate, 67th Congress, Second Session, Report No. 794, pp. 31-37.
POLITICAL HISTORY OF OCCUPATION 21
quickly withdrew in complete amity with the Americans when Admiral Caperton arrived on July 1, or over three weeks before the intervention in Port-au-Prince.
It seems, therefore, that there was virtually no danger of foreign intervention, and that if the authorities in Washington believed that there was, the cause was in the state of their nerves rather than in any actual menace.
Admiral Caperton seized the custom houses and began to collect the revenues, which he then deposited in the National Bank of Haiti, from which the services of the government deposits had been taken earlier in the year by the Haitian government.
The Treaty was approved by the Haitian cabinet in the early part of September, 1915, but there was a great deal of opposition to it in the National Assembly, and a delay ensued.
In order to force ratification, Admiral Caperton then shut off the payment of salaries to the Government officials. These were resumed in October, but the question of unpaid back salaries was left open upon order of Secretary Daniels, and was to be adjusted after the Haitian Senate should finally vote upon the ratification of the Treaty. In this way financial pressure was still continued. On the eve of the final vote, Secretary Daniels ordered Admiral Caperton to state to President Dartiguenave and his cabinet that if the Treaty were not ratified, the United States "has the intention to retain control in Haiti until the desired end is accomplished, and that it will forthwith proceed to the complete pacification of Haiti."
Subjected to these threats, Haiti ratified the Treaty, November 11, 1915, but accompanied this by a series
of interpretive resolutions which the United States later refused to recognize. It was ratified by the United States, and proclaimed May 3, 1916. Under its provisions the United States has taken control of the following servicesFinance, Gendarmerie, Public Works, Agriculture, Health and Sanitation, although the authority to do so in the case of Agriculture and Health is far from clear.3 Whether by oversight or
* The only references to Agriculture, Health or Public Works contained in the Treaty are found in the following passages:
The United States and the Republic of Haiti desiring to confirm and strengthen the amity existing between them by the most cordial cooperation in measures for their common advantage ;
And the Republic of Haiti desiring to remedy the present condition of its revenues and finances, to maintain the tranquillity of the Republic, to carry out plans for the economic development and prosperity of the Republic and its people;
And the United States being in full sympathy with all of these aims and objects and desiring to contribute in all proper ways to their accomplishment;
The United States and the Republic of Haiti have resolved to conclude a Convention with these objects in view, and have appointed for that purpose, Plenipotentiaries.
The Government of the United States will, by its good offices, aid the Haitian Government in the proper and efficient development of its agricultural, mineral and commercial resources and in the establishment of the finances of Haiti on a firm and solid basis.
The Republic of Haiti, being desirous to further the development of its natural resources, agrees to undertake and execute such measures as in the opinion of the high contracting parties may be necessary for the sanitation and public improvement of
POLITICAL HISTORY OF OCCUPATION 23
design the Departments of Justice and Education and the Post Office were left in Haitian hands, a fact that one often hears regretted by Americans in Haiti.
As the Treaty was forced through under duress it is difficult to maintain that Haiti is morally bound by its provisions.
Article XVI states that the Treaty shall remain in force for 10 years, (i.e. to May 3, 1926), and for a second term of 10 years, "if, for specific reasons presented by either of the high contracting parties, the purpose of this Treaty has not been fully accomplished."
Within less than a year, on March 28, 1917, the Treaty was extended under this clause to May 3, 1936, by M. Louis Borno, then foreign minister, and now President of Haiti; and Mr. Bailly Blanchard, American minister in Haiti. Haitians claim that this extension is invalid both because, as they hold, the article quoted in the footnote does not authorize an extension before there had been time to try out the Treaty, and because the extension has not been ratified either by the United States Senate or by the Haitian National Assembly, which, as we shall see, was dissolved before it finally took action.
They hold that as the consent of the National Assembly was necessary for the ratification of the original Treaty, it was also necessary for the extension, and that consequently the Haitian nation cannot be said to have requested a renewal and that, therefore, the
the Republic, under the supervision and direction of an engineer or engineers, to be appointed by the President of Haiti upon nomination by the President of the United States, and authorized for that purpose by the Government of Haiti.
terms of the Treaty do not extend beyond May 3, 1926. Yet it is upon this, at the best, disputed agreement that the authority of the American Occupation now rests.
In 1916, the National Assembly was dissolved by the American officers of the Haitian Gendarmerie. They were acting on the immediate orders of President Dar-tiguenave, but in view of the general control exercised by the American Occupation, it seems undeniable that this dissolution was carried through with the consent, and possibly at the suggestion of the American representatives.
New elections for the National Assembly were conducted in January, 1917, under the supervision of the Gendarmerie. When the National Assembly met, it was presented with the draft of a new Constitution which had been drawn up by the then Assistant Secretary of the U. S. Navy, Franklin D. Roosevelt. One clause of this constitution gave to foreigners the right to hold land. This right had previously been consistently refused by the Haitians, who had been afraid that if foreigners were permitted to own land, they themselves would be speedily reduced to a condition of economic servitude:4 Largely because of this provision as to ownership of land, the National Assembly refused to ratify the Constitution.
Acting through President Dartiguenave, the American Occupation then proceeded a second time to dissolve a Haitian Congress, and Major Smedley D. Butler, U. S. Marine Corps, who as head of the Gendarmerie had also the Haitian rank and pay of a Major General, was sent with other officers to accomplish the act. These officers carried out their instruc-4 See chapter V.
POLITICAL HISTORY OF OCCUPATION 25
tions, fully armed. The doors of the National Assembly were then locked in order to prevent the Assembly from entering the Chambers again, and since then no Haitian Congress has been allowed to convene.
Since the Americans had thus dissolved the National Assembly, it was necessary to submit the Constitution to some other body, if legal ratification was to be secured. It was accordingly decided to have the Constitution voted on by the people in a special election.
On June 12,1918, this plebiscite was held. The Constitution was naturally a somewhat elaborate document, and its several provisions of fundamental importance to the country. Voters were, however, given only a short time to study it, and were required to approve or disapprove of it as a whole. Gendarmes, officered in the main by Americans, were in charge of the ballot boxes, and of the whole conduct of the election.
Owing to the illiteracy of the electorate, the voters were not required to mark a ballot, which most of them could not have read.
From the testimony taken on the subject by the Senate Committee of Inquiry under Senator McCormick it appears that there were prepared two sets of ballots, distinguished by their color; the white to signify approval, the pink disapproval, and that the voters were given the white ballots only. The colored ballots were in charge of a gendarme whom they could ask for them, if they chose. Pressure was used to get out a large vote.8
" For instance, Part II, p. 191, McCormick Committee Hearings.
"An order issued by an American marine officer proclaimed that "Any abstention from such a solemn occasion will be con-
Under the circumstances it is not surprising that the Constitution was declared to have been approved by a vote of 98,294 to 769.
The Constitution thus forced upon Haiti provides for a representative government in many ways not very different from its previous system. It begins by stating "The Republic of Haiti is one and indivisible, free, sovereign and independent. Its territory, including the islands dependent thereon, is inviolable, and cannot be alienated by any treaty or by any convention" (Art. 1).
It provides for a popularly elected Senate and Chamber of Deputies, and for a President to be chosen for a term of four years by these two chambers, meeting in joint session as the National Assembly (Arts. 40, 4r).
It provides for a Council of State made up of the five Secretaries of State (Arts. 83, 85) which in addition to its regular duties shall exercise the legislative power in the absence of the legislative bodies.
It provides for local government through a council for each commune presided over by a Communal Magistrate elected every second year by the primary assemblies which meet January 10 of even numbered years, without previous convocation. "Their object is to elect at the periods fixed by the Constitution, the Deputies of the people, the Senators of the Republic, the Municipal Councillors, and to decide upon the amendments proposed to the Constitution" (Arts. 107, 108).
Article C of the Transitory Provisions (Title VIII of the Constitution) provides that the first elections for
sidered an unpatrioticthat is, anti-American Occupation act."
POLITICAL HISTORY OF OCCUPATION 27
the membership of the legislative body after the adoption of the Constitution, "shall be held on January 10 of an even numbered year. The year shall be set by the President of the Republic in a decree issued at least three months before the meeting of the primary assemblies.''
Art. A of the Transitory Provisions of the Constitution specifically closed the term of the then president (Dartiguenave) on May 15, 1922.
As this date approached, the President failed to name the year in which elections should be held, and none were held, and the choice of a president was put in the hands of the Council of State. This was done under the provision of the Constitution whereby the Council of State exercises the legislative power where there is no elected legislature.7 It is pbvious that the constitutionality of the election of the President by the Council of State, which many Haitians deny, depends on whether "legislative power" is to be interpreted as powers of legislation or the powers possessed by the Legislature.
The President thus appoints the men 8 who are to pass upon his candidacy for his reelection should he desire to stand for a second term. He can also compel the various members to retire at will at any time, and fill their places as he likes. It is evident that this makes the government of Haiti into a self-perpetuating oligarchy quite contrary to the letter and spirit of the Constitution.
Despite this power which the President possesses
* Title VIII, Transitory Provisions, Art. C.
* Twenty-one in practice, the Constitution (Art. 83) provides for five only.
28 OCCUPIED HAITI
over the Council of State, which would seem to insure his election, President Dartiguenave was defeated for reelection in 1922, although an active candidate. It is apparently the general belief among all classes of Haitians, and of Americans in Haiti, that the candidate who was elected president at that date, M. Louis Borno, was successful largely because he purchased the votes of a sufficient number of the Council.
In March, 1926, when our party was in Haiti the date of the second presidential election under the Constitution, April 12, was near at hand; many candidates were in the field, and there were many accusations of bribery on all sides, and much talk of possible violence which the saner leaders did all they could to stop.
Feeling was the more inflamed because of the recent renewed refusal to allow parliamentary elections. According to the Constitution, votes are cast at the same time for local (communal) officers, deputies and senators, and it was supposed that communal elections would take place. They did so, in fact, throughout most of Haiti.
In Port-au-Prince, however, the authorities who were alone authorized to take charge of elections resigned on the eve of election, and no elections, communal, or other, could legally be held. The Opposition attacked the resignation as technically illegal. The judges, who are irremovable, and not under the control of the Occupation, ordered the elections to proceed. The Opposition tried to get the Gendarmerie to sustain the order of the court, but without success.
In the absence of a legislature the Council of State
POLITICAL HISTORY OF OCCUPATION 29
elected M. Borno for the second time.9 There was a slight clash in Port-au-Prince between the troops and the crowd,10 but happily the Haitian Opposition did not
"It is stated that on the eve of election, President Borno, who probably had good reason to believe that some of his adherents in the Council had been bribed to desert him, removed some of the 21 members and replaced them with others chosen "from among his relatives and official and political satellites." See Senator King's speech on Haiti, May 12, 1926 (Congressional Record, Vol. 67, No. 165, p. 12015).
m The substance of a Haitian account of what occurred is as follows:
Port-au-Prince, April 21, 1926.
I left New York the 3rd of April and reached Port-au-Prince the 13th,the day after the so-called election of M. Borno, as President. I stopped en route at Cap-Haitien, Port-au-Prince, Jeremie, St. Marc, and found the people in the greatest excitement over the election that was going to take place, April 12, in Port-au-Prince,an election by an unconstitutional body, the Council of State.
In Port-au-Prince, people of all classes protested against the so-called election of M. Borno. From all parts of Haiti came citizens to protest. So Port-au-Prince was crowded. All the streets around the Legislative Building were guarded by armed constables, and nobody was allowed to enter the building without a pass; very few passes were given and only to detectives and government officials.
Thousands and thousands of citizens, women and children, filling the streets, were crying "a bas Borno, le traitre." Squads of constables, under the command of American officers, were patrolling the streets. One moment, the crowd, dense and excited tried to force their way through the armed constables to reach the Legislative Building. The American officers gave orders to drive the people back and to fire on them.
But the constables, being Haitians, hesitated and, raising their guns, fired in the air. In the meanwhile there was a panic, but some energetic men stopped it and the people began again protesting, crying "a bas Borno, a bas les americains."
After the farcical election of M. Borno took place, the crowd of itself dispersed peacefully. Then began wholesale
prejudice their cause by recourse to violence, although there were those among them so desperate as to wish that considerable numbers of their fellow citizens might be shot down by the American Marines, believing that this would arouse concern and inquiry in the United States.11
Some of the bitterest and most legitimate criticism of the present regime in Haiti is leveled against the suppression of representative government, which the better citizens in the country had always hitherto cherished in principle, however imperfectly it may have functioned much of the time. Haitians themselves tell one that it was at those periods when elections were freest that administration was the best.
Unsatisfactory as the methods of parliamentary government may be in a largely illiterate country, (and
arrests of citizens, some of them accused of having fired shots, when it was the constables who did it.
A few hours later 19 citizens were arrested and thrown into a small cell. They were nearly asphyxiated. One, for instance, who was quite unarmed, was released after seven hours of confinement by the American Chief of Police. Later he was again arrested under the same false charge by direct orders of M. Borno. He remained in prison 24 hours and was released on bail, but was indicted as having fired shots. There is no truth in the government report about the events.
Today, the 21st, the people of Haiti are still protesting against the so-called election of M. Borno. The members of the Council of State who elected M. Borno are guarded in their homes by armed constables because they do not feel safe, and are afraid of paying some penalty for their treason toward the nation.
u An "additional complaint of the Haitian opposition is that M. Borno, as the son of a man not naturalized at the time of Borno's birth, is not eligible under Article 73 of the Constitution which, carried through all the Haitian Constitutions, excludes anyone from the Presidency who is not "born of a Haitian father."
POLITICAL HISTORY OF OCCUPATION 31
elsewhere), what American republic has yet worked out a substitute that is preferable?
Even if the American party are correct and the Constitution was meant to confer upon the Council of State an emergency power to elect a President, is ft possible to maintain that it intended to enable this small body of the President's own appointees to hold this power for election after election and to make it the permanent and sole legislative body as well?
The plea that Haitians are too ignorant to vote for men to represent them comes badly from those who secured the acceptance of the Constitution by submitting it to a popular referendum.
Apparently the old Haitian method was for the candidates themselves to supply the ballot to the voter. A man did not need to be able to read it himself; he had only to apply to the man for whom he wanted to vote. This method must have made it difficult if not impossible to secure the freedom that comes from secrecy. The American gendarmes have introduced a quaint preventive of repeating in communal elections, which are allowed, although national ones are not. They mark with indelible ink the thumb of each man who casts his ballot, and no man with an inked thumb is allowed to vote.
It is a question whether the semblance of republican institutions maintained is better or worse than unveiled and unpretending military dictatorship. It is resented as hypocrisy. It also divides the appearance of responsibility. United States authorities excuse what they do or fail to do by ascribing it to the Haitian government, and Haitian officials throw up their hands and ask what they can do about it.
It makes a most painful impression on the visiting American in Haiti, and not less so when in the State Department itself he is told that so and so was done by the President of Haiti, and of course the United States could not prevent it.
It is obvious that as a matter of fact the real power in Haiti is exercised, not by the Haitian officials, but by the American Occupation. A body of U. S. Marines is stationed in the Republic, most of whom are quartered behind the President's palace. The presence of these American Marines is not specifically authorized in the Treaty, and hence, even if that instrument should be accepted as binding, is of more than doubtful legality.
The only possible authorization is that phrase in the Treaty which states that "the United States will lend an efficient aid for the maintenance of a government adequate for the protection of life, property and individual liberty." It seems that at any rate the United States government should not have the exclusive power of interpreting the meaning of this phrase.
The United States also effectively controls all legislation in this "sovereign and independent" State. Proposed laws must be submitted to the American Legation and to the American High Commissioner before they can be enacted by the Council of State, now acting in lieu of an elected National Assembly.
If the High Commissioner has any serious objection to a law, it is apparent that he can prevent it from being enacted. The Occupation is thus essentially supreme. Up until 1922 the ranking officer of the United States Marines in Haiti was also the repre-
POLITICAL HISTORY OF OCCUPATION 33
sentative of the American government, and although the lines of authority between the American commander and the American Minister to Haiti were not always clear, the military character of the Occupation was quite evident.
In 1922, however, Brigadier General John H. Russell, U. S. M. C, was appointed by the President as High Commissioner to Haiti, and since then no Minister to the country has been appointed. General Russell is, therefore, at once the representative of the State Department and of the Navy, and even though he makes the Legation his headquarters and appears primarily as a civilian, our Occupation is nevertheless a thinly disguised military control.
Thus the American powers over Haiti are in reality almost complete. American approval is needed for the enactment of laws, the revenues of the country are collected under the supervision of Americans, and the budget is drawn up by the American Financial Adviser. The Financial Adviser scrutinizes all vouchers and withholds payments that he believes to be not in conformity with the principles of the budget or with efficient administration. The control over the Gendarmerie is in American hands, as are also the services of Health and Public Works; and Agriculture.12 Only Justice and Education are outside of American control.
It is the present custom of the Financial Adviser to refuse to pay such court awards against the State as he believes to be unjust. The Gendarmerie, controlled as it is by Americans, would naturally refuse to arrest him for refusal to obey the rulings of the courts. There can be little question that the Financial Adviser "See below.
has saved the Haitian State a considerable amount of money by his refusal to make the payments which the courts have ordered him to make. Nevertheless, the principle established is not a happy one, and the legal relationships should be cleared up as quickly as possible.
As regards education, a later chapter is given to this subject, but it may be noted here that the Occupation has recently taken over the School of Medicine and that Dr. Freeman, of the Agricultural Service, is planning a wide-reaching program of popular education in the form of rural and higher agricultural schools.
The American Occupation would, undoubtedly, like to have the Treaty amended so that they might secure control of the courts, and of education, in addition to the other branches of the administration which they now have in their hands. Such a change would, undoubtedly, be bitterly resisted by the Haitians, and any extension of the Treaty which contained these terms could probably be secured from the Haitian government only under duress.
One of the most frequent complaints that one hears in Haiti is of the exclusion of Haitians from the more important administrative posts, which are filled by Americans, and the sharp contrast between the small salaries received by Haitian administrative officials and those received by the foreigners. The Americans are in many cases officers of the Marine Corps, in receipt of their regular salaries from the United States as such. Their services are lent to the government of Haiti, which pays an additional salary. This Haitian salary may be low by American standards; it may be a
POLITICAL HISTORY OF OCCUPATION 35
very small price for the service rendered, which is also being paid for in part by the United States.
Nevertheless the fact that American officers receive salary from two sources, and the feeling that the facts are not fully or commonly known cause criticism. The total sum paid annually from Haitian tax money to American officials is approximately $425,000, as compared to approximately $2,850,000 paid to Haitians in its service. The payment to Americans forms, therefore, 13 per cent of the total expenditures paid to its personnel by the Haitian government. The additional amounts paid by the United States, as explained above, to the members of its naval and marine force who are loaned to the Haitian government, are approximately $495,000 a year, which is 17 per cent more than is paid by the Haitian government to all Americans in its service.
The total paid to American officials is, however, divided among a much smaller number of people than that which goes to Haitians, and the individual salaries of the Americans are very much higher.
The Financial Adviser and General Receiver is paid $13,500 a year; and the Director of Internal Revenue is paid $7,500 a year. The Director of the Agricultural Technique Service is paid $10,000 a year. The salaries of these men and also of the other Americans who are in the Agricultural and Financial services are entirely beyond those paid by the Haitian government to Haitian officials, apart from the President.
The leading Americans in the Department of Public Health and the gendarmerie receive grants from the Haitian government of from $150 to $250 a month. These grants in combination with their American pay
are sufficient to bring their total salaries in some cases up to $7,500 a year.
It is not quite easy to say what the Occupation costs the United States financially. The total yearly amount may be put perhaps at between $1,000,000 and $1,250,-000. But of this a considerable part, (perhaps between $500,000 and $750,000), is the expense of maintaining the Marines in Haiti, and if these men would be maintained elsewhere if not there, it cannot be said that the Occupation costs the American taxpayer the whole of the first mentioned sum.
The cost of the Occupation of Haiti is not primarily financial, but psychological and political.
ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL ASPECTS OF THE AMERICAN OCCUPATION
By Paul H. Douglas
The principal effects of the American Occupation upon the economic and financial situation of Haiti may be discussed under the following heads:
(1) The general fiscal and revenue policies of the Occupation.
(2) The $16,000,000 external loan for the refunding of the previous foreign debt.
(3) The adjustment of the relations between the Haitian government and the National Railroad of Haiti.
(4) The adjustment of the internal debt and the work of the Claims Commission.
(5) The negotiation of a new contract with the Banque Nationale de la Republique d'Ha'iti.
(6) The relations with various business enterprises in Haiti.
I.The General Fiscal and Revenue Policies of the Occupation
The war interfered with the ability of the Haitians to export coffee and cotton to Europe, and hence decreased the revenues of the Haitian State. In conse-
quence, the American Collector General of Customs did not pay any interest upon the foreign debt of Haiti until 1919, nor was interest paid upon the internal debt until 1921. The Haitians are in a position to claim that it was not until the American Occupation that the Haitian government first seriously defaulted on its national debt. The years 1918-20 were, however, prosperous ones for Haiti, and two crops of coffee at high prices were shipped to Europe during this period. As coffee forms 70 per cent of the value of the exports of Haiti, and an export tax of three cents a pound is levied upon coffee, this resulted in a great increase in the Haitian revenues. The following year, however, 1921, the world-wide depression resulted in a serious decline of the Haitian revenues, which fell from $6,-800,000 in 1919-1920, to $4,000,000 in 1920-21.
The total receipts of the government since 1910 have been approximately as follows: 1910-15, $4,900,000; 1915-18, $3,800,000; 1919-21, $6,400,000; 1921-22, $5,000,000; 1922-23, $6,400,000; 1923-24, $6,600,000.
Expenses have been held in check during recent years, so a surplus has been accumulated to meet possible shrinkages in income which now amounts to approximately $4,000,000.
A. S. Maumus, who was appointed Receiver of Customs at the insistence of Mr. Bryan in 1916, was not able to revise the Haitian finances in order that the tax burdens might be more equitably distributed. The various Financial Advisers that were appointed did no more than the Receiver of Customs, and one of them, Mr. Mcllheny, was absent in the United States for most of the time during which he served.
With the coming in 1924 of Dr. W. W. Cumberland,
ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL ASPECTS 39
who was appointed to fill the positions of both General Receiver and Financial Adviser, the financial policy of the Republic was placed on a more solid foundation. For the first time, an intelligible system of accounts was worked out, and an accounting system devised which not only shows the expenditures and income of the government, but also assists in checking fraudulent expenditures.
In addition, an attempt was made both to revise the customs law and to develop internal revenues as a means of making the country less dependent financially upon the volume of its export trade. This is particularly necessary in a one-crop country, such as Haiti, where an accident to the principal crop may severely cripple the finances of the government. At the time when Dr. Cumberland assumed office, revenues from internal sources composed less than 10 per cent of the total receipts of the government, but these have been gradually increased, and it is the hope of the administration ultimately to draw approximately half of their revenues from internal sources. The public revenues will thus be more independent of the coffee crop.
Dr. Cumberland and his assistants have also revised the tariff law which, as has been stated, bore far more heavily upon the peasants than upon the well-to-do classes of the city. A preliminary draft has been prepared which, however, has not yet been enacted into law. This draft increases the duties upon such luxuries as perfume, and imported liquors, and decreases both the import taxes upon necessities and the export taxes upon commodities which are raised by the peasants.
II.The Protocol; the $16,000,000 External Loan for the Refunding of the Previous Foreign Debt
On October 3, 1919, a so-called "Protocol between the United States and Haiti" was signed at Port-au-Prince, the provisions recognizing certain claims as binding upon the Haitian government, and setting up a Claims Commission to deal with others. In Article VI of this instrument the Republic of Haiti "agrees to issue not later than two years after the date of the signature of this Protocol a national loan of 40,000,000 dollars gold."
The external loans of 1876, 1896, and 1910 had been floated by the Haitian government in France, and these bonds were in the possession of French holders. The 1910 loan especially had been floated on terms which were very advantageous to the Banque de l'Union Parisienne, which had acted as the fiscal agent for the Haitian government. Owing to the post-war depression of the French franc, it became evident that the Haitian government would be able to save money by floating a new dollar loan in the United States, and paying off the franc loans which were held in France.
The loan authorized in 1919 by the Haitian government was to provide for the refunding of the external and internal loans, for the settlement of claims against the government, and for public improvements. In 1922 when the value of the franc was approximately nine cents instead of its normal exchange value of 19.6, a loan of $16,000,000 was floated in the United States. This loan was to draw interest at six per cent, and was to be amortized in not fewer than 30 years. By the
ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL ASPECTS 41
Protocol between Haiti and the United States, the control over Haitian customs was given to the United States during the life of the loan.1 This, in other words, would mean that the United States control over customs might last until 1952, instead of 1936, as was authorized by the Treaty of 1916 and the proposed renewal of 1917.
After some negotiations, various banking houses were finally asked to bid upon the issue and the best bid was made by the National City Bank, which offered 92.1 for the bonds. This amounted to approximately 6^2 per cent interest, which is a lower rate of interest than most Central American countries would be able to secure on their own credit. There can apparently be little doubt but that the guarantee on the part of the American government to collect the customs and to deduct the interest upon the foreign loan lowered the rate of interest which the Haitian government would otherwise have been compelled to pay. The loan is, as a matter of fact, being amortized at a more rapid rate than is formally called for, and if the present rate of redemption is continued, it will be completely amor-
1 Protocol between the United States and Haiti. Signed at Port-au-Prince, October 3, 1919.
Article I. It is clearly understood that this Protocol does not in fact or by implication extend the provisions of the Treaty of September 16, 1915, hereinbefore mentioned.
Article VIII. And it is further agreed that the control by an officer or officers duly appointed by the President of Haiti, upon nomination by the President of the United States, of the collection and allocation of the hypothecated revenues, will be provided for during the life of the loan after the expiration of the aforesaid Treaty, so as to make certain that adequate provision be made for the amortization and interest of the loan.
tized by approximately the year 1942, instead of by 1952.
It should be noted that approximately only half the French bondholders have accepted payment in paper francs, and that the remainder are holding out for a payment in gold francs. If they should be successful in obtaining such a payment, it would of course enormously increase the financial burdens of the Haitian people.
This claim of the French bondholders is, however, weakened by the fact that it has been the inflation policy of the French government that has caused the depreciation of the franc. To redeem the bonds in gold francs would be to give to the holders a preferential treatment which has not been accorded to those who own French governmental bonds. From the proceedings of the Haitian Congress in 1910, it appears, moreover, that they definitely rejected the idea of redeeming the bond issue in terms of gold francs.
Many Haitians criticize Mr. Mcllheny for not waiting for the franc to depreciate further before refunding the French loan. Had this been done, the savings effected would have been still greater. It is perhaps hardly fair to blame Mr. Mcllheny for failing to foresee the continued issue in France of paper money, particularly in view of the rise in the value of the franc in the years 1920 and 1922.
III.The Adjustment of the Relations between the Haitian Government and the National Railroad of Haiti
The Protocol of 1919 between the United States and Haiti which authorized the $40,000,000 loan and which
ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL ASPECTS 43
established a Claims Commission, also provided that the interest upon the $3,545,000 of bonds of the National Railway of Haiti, which were guaranteed by the Haitian government, should be recognized as a legitimate charge upon the Haitian government, and should not be passed upon by the Claims Commission. The accrued interest upon these bonds was not met until 1922, and during this time the price of these bonds on the Paris Bourse fell much below par, and were below 60 in 1920. Since this quotation was in terms of paper francs, the depreciation in terms of American money was even greater.
It might have been possible for the then Financial Adviser to have purchased a considerable amount of the bonds on the market at this low rate, and thus have saved the interest and principal which the Haitian government would otherwise have been compelled to pay. Some savings could, undoubtedly, have been effected by making such purchases because the value of the entire bond issue in terms of American money was little, if any, under $800,000.
The Financial Adviser did not, however, purchase the bonds on the open market, but instead, in 1922, paid out approximately $2,000,000 to meet the accrued interest, which had been accumulating since 1914.
In the following year a reorganization of the railway was carried through whereby the bondholders of the National Railway exchanged their bonds at 25 per cent discount for six per cent Series B bonds of the Republic of Haiti. In this way they became direct creditors of the Haitian government rather than of the National Railways.
The bondholders were induced to give up $600,000 of
the accrued interest which had been turned over to them for the purpose of extending the line of the National Railway into the interior, to tap territories which it was thought would yield increased operating income. Taken all in all, the program of reorganization which was carried through reduced the ultimate liabilities of the Haitian government for the railway, including interest and amortization from $13,000,000 to $8,000,-000. The railroad will therefore cost the Haitians, from first to last, $8,330,000.
It is probable that had there been no foreign intervention in Haiti, the Haitian government would have refused to meet the interest upon the bonds, and, therefore, the Haitian people would not have been compelled to pay out any appreciable sum for it.
Some Americans defend the official policy towards the railroad on the ground that once the contract was made in 1910, it was the duty of the Haitians to live up to it, and that the Americans were justified in teaching the Haitians to respect the sanctity of contracts. This overlooks the fact that a contract which is tainted with fraud and corruption at its source, as this contract was, is neither legally nor morally binding. It is in fact not a contract at all, for this requires good faith.
It is precisely on such grounds that the U. S. Supreme Court invalidated the lease of the Naval oil reserves to E. L. Doheny through Secretary of the Interior Fall, and that the Government attacked similar leases to Sinclair. The plea that the innocent holders of the bonds should be protected also plainly overlooks the fact that the innocent holders of any form of stolen property do not have any legal claim to the property
ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL ASPECTS 45
of this description which they hold. To admit such a right would of course prevent any injured person from recovering property corruptly taken from him. If these innocent holders are to be indemnified, the obligation rests upon those who sold them the bonds, knowing as they presumably did, the conditions under which the contract was secured, rather than upon the Haitian people, who had taken no part in their own betrayal.
The railroad itself has been an almost complete financial failure. Constructed as it was in three disconnected sections, the most important of which paralleled the seacoast, and hence was exposed to water competition, its revenues have been almost ludicrously slight. From 1914 to 1922 its total gross revenues did not average over $85,000 a year. This was less than half of the operating expenses, if depreciation is taken into account. If the interest charges of approximately $212,000 a year are added to this, it will be seen that the gross revenues only amounted to approximately one-fourth of the total cost of the railroad.
It must also be added that the road has paid unnecessarily high salaries to its president, Mr. Roger L. Farnham, and to New York attorneys. Mr. Farnham while receiver was paid $24,000 a year, while Sullivan & Cromwell, attorneys for the receivership, were paid $20,000 a year.1 It is known that Mr. Farnham's present salary is approximately $18,000 a year. Yet, Mr. Farnham is in New York most of the year, and apparently devotes little of his energies to the actual con-
*See amended order July 7, 1924, signed by Judge J. M. Mayer. De Acosta v. Compagnie Nationale des Chemins de Fer d'Haiti, In Equity, E-i8-i96, pp. 3-4. Stenographer's minutes, ibid, (filed July 10, No. E-18-196), p. 13.
duct of the railway, which is clearly of so small and insignificant a character as to render unnecessary the services of so high-priced an official.
Since the Haitian government is compelled to make good any failure of the road to earn interest upon the bonds, it would seem that in self-protection it should have the power to control operating expenses. Otherwise, it would always be possible to pad the operating expenses and compel the government to meet the interest on the bonds. It should, therefore, take active steps to reduce the salary which is now being paid by the railroad to Mr. Farnham.
Who then has made a profit from the railway? It is not denied by anyone that the National City Bank now holds approximately 70 per cent of the railway bond issue. Since these bonds were originally sold in France, the inevitable conclusion seems to be that they were purchased by some one from their French holders and passed either directly or indirectly into the hands of the National City Bank. In view of the prices at which the bonds were selling on the Paris Bourse, ranging between 25 and 30 in terms of dollars, it is patent that some one has made a large profit upon the transaction, which in the aggregate is probably between $2,500,000 and $3,ooo,ooo.2
IV.The Adjustment of the Internal Debt and the Work of the Claims Commission
A number of internal loans were floated from 1911-
1914 to finance the carrying out of various revolutions.
"Vice-President George D. Buckley of the National City Bank in correspondence with me has stated that the National City Bank did not buy these bonds directly from their French
ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL ASPECTS 47
These loans were in part forced upon Haitian citizens, and in part were advanced by German merchants at exceedingly high rates of interest. In one case, the loan was floated at a rate of 48, or for every $48 advanced, the government agreed to repay $100. As has been stated, interest upon these internal loans was not paid until 1922.
Since then they have been redeemed by the Haitian government in the following ways: (1) Cash up to one-third of their face value has been paid to the holders, and (2) Class B Haitian bonds drawing six per cent have been issued in exchange for the other two-thirds. A number of persons and institutions undoubtedly have made a considerable profit by buying up this internal loan at a low rate from its holders before back interest was paid, and the bonds redeemed.
The Protocol of 1919 provided for the creation of a Claims Commission which would pass upon all claims which existed prior to 1916. One member of this Commission was to be appointed by the Haitian Secretary of Finance, one by the United States Secretary of State, and the third, who is not to be a citizen either of Haiti or of the United States, by the Financial Adviser. It will thus be seen that two of the three members of the Claims Commission were really appointed by the American government. The commission was somewhat slow in getting under way, but it has since been working at a more accelerated pace, and it has
holders, but that they were taken over as security for an unpaid loan. In view of his offer to furnish any information desired, I requested him to inform me who the person was from whom the bonds were taken over and what was the extent of the loan. This chapter unfortunately had to go to press before I received his reply.
now passed on most of the claims. The total amount of claims awarded thus far amounts to approximately $2,800,000, while the amounts disallowed equal $21,000,000.
There has, on the whole, been little criticism of the work of the Claims Commission, and it seems to have tried to safeguard the legitimate financial interests of the Haitian government. Thus claims by the National Railway for alleged damages caused by the revolutionary disorders during the years 1911-1914 have been, in the main, rejected, as have certain other exorbitant claims advanced by foreign nationals. The awards of the commission are paid one-third in cash and two-thirds in Class B six per cent bonds.
V.The Negotiation of a New Contract with the Banque Nationale de la Republique d'Haiti
The contract which the Haitian government made with the Banque Nationale de la Republique d'Haiti in 1910 was drawn for 50 years. It granted to the bank (1) the exclusive service of the treasury and (2) the monopoly of note issue.
The National City Bank first purchased the interests of the three other American banking firms, (i. e. Speyer & Co., Hallgarten & Co. and Ladenburg, Thai-man & Co.), and after the war bought the interests of the Banque de l'Union Parisienne, for approximately $1,400,000. In view of the changed ownership of the bank, a new contract was drawn up in 1922 by the Haitian government with the assistance of the State Department and the Financial Adviser.
ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL ASPECTS 49
In certain respects the conditions were altered in favor of the Haitian government. The commission which the bank had formerly collected for acting as the fiscal agent of the government was reduced from one and one-half per cent upon receipts and expenditures to one per cent. The profit upon the issuance of subsidiary coinage was also given to the government.
The contract of 1922, like the contract of 1910, was, however, silent upon the question as to whether the bank should pay interest to the government upon the deposits which the government had with it. This was not a matter of appreciable importance during the period of Haitian independence, because the government rarely had a surplus, but it was important during the period of American control when a surplus of $4,000,-000 was accumulated, to meet possible decreases in revenue resulting from bad coffee years. The two Haitian ministers of finance under whom the contract was negotiated, Messrs. J. C. Pressoir and Louis Etheard, declare that they were the ones who refused to allow the bank to pay interest. They justify their action on the ground that if the bank paid interest it would then loan out the deposits again to borrowers, whereas if no interest were paid, the Haitian officials would be able to call for the money at any time that they wished!
This misapprehension of the principles of modem banking seems almost inexcusable. It is in part explained, however, by the difficulty which the Haitians feel they had in securing possession in 1914-15 of the funds which were ear-marked for the redemption of paper money. The desire to be able to lay their hands on the money at any moment led these two ministers
50 OCCUPIED HAITI
of finance to regard the modern bank as analogous to a safety deposit vault, and to misunderstand the way in which banks, by keeping their assets liquid, can meet the demands of their depositors.
While the ignorance of the Haitian ministers of finance of the elementary principles of banking was lamentable, it must be added that the National City Bank and the American officials must bear some share of the responsibility in the matter. A high standard of business ethics would, it would seem, have led the bank to be unwilling to take advantage of the ignorance of the Haitians. It would also seem that the principle of trying to protect the interests of one's customer should have led the National City Bank to offer voluntarily to pay interest.
Certainly while the American officials did not propose that the City Bank should be given the deposits without interest, their obligations as trustees should have made them prevent the final capitulation to the interest of the bank. The result of this unfortunate provision is that no interest at all is paid upon the deposits of the Haitian government with the Banque Nationale de la Republique d'Haiti, which now amount to approximately $1,000,000. The Financial Adviser has, it is understood, transferred some $3,000,000 of the surplus to the National City Bank in New York,3 where the rate of interest paid is commonly understood in Port-au-Prince to be two and one-half per cent. The market rate of interest, however, in New York on such deposits as these, which need not be subject to call, is
'See Annual Report of the Financial Adviser-General Receiver, for year October 1923-September 1917, p. 77.
ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL ASPECTS 51
approximately three and a half or three and three-fourths per cent.
The Banque Nationale de la Republique d'Haiti and the National City Bank are, therefore, paying approximately $80,000 less interest anually than the government could secure at ordinary commercial rates. It would seem, therefore, that every effort should be made by the government to recover this amount. If the National City Bank refuses to pay the market rate, then it would seem that an effort should be made to interpret the contract so that the surplus funds might be deposited with other banks, which would pay the going rate of interest. It is believed that the contract does not grant to the Banque Nationale de la Republique d'Haiti exclusive right to all government deposits as the phrase "exclusive service of the treasury" might be interpreted as not analogous with an exclusive right to retain all deposits.
The bank also makes a small amount of profit, undoubtedly, on the one per cent commission that is given it for handling government funds. It may also derive profit from the monopoly of note issue. It is able to make commercial loans by loaning bank notes p well as by creating deposits. Commercial loans are, as a matter of fact, generally made by giving the borrower bank notes rather than by creating a checking account for him. The ordinary rate of interest on these loans is approximately nine per cent.
The bank has to maintain against these bank notes a reserve of only one-third in American money. Half of this, however, may be on deposit outside of the country, where it may, of course, be loaned out, and consequently draw interest. A reserve of 16.7 per cent
is, therefore, the maximum that is legally required. But this reserve, it will be noted, need not be in gold, but in any type of lawful American money. Federal Reserve notes can, consequently, be used as a reserve, but these are also in part based upon commercial paper, and arise out of commercial transactions in the United States. It is, therefore, theoretically possible for the Banque Nationale de la Republique d'Haiti to make not far from $10 worth of commercial loans upon a gold security of approximately $i.
In practice, however, the bank has maintained a much larger cash reserve than the legal requirements, this reserve in late years having amounted to over 65 per cent of its note issue. The profits which have been realized upon this item are not, therefore, as great as those which are theoretically possible.
Some even believe that because of the expense of printing, handling, and retiring paper currency of such small denominations, no profit at all is made. If any profits are made, the only share which the government receives is a payment of one per cent on all circulation above 10,000,000 gourdes ($2,000,000). At the present time, the Haitian money in circulation amounts to approximately 15,000,000 gourdes ($3,000,000). It would have been highly desirable to have drawn the original contract so that the share of the Haitian government in such profits as the bank may sometimes secure from the note issue would have been larger.
The Banque Nationale de la Republique d'Haiti has but one serious rival. This is the Royal Bank of Canada, which has several branches in the country. As this bank does not have the privilege of issuing Haitian money, and since loans are primarily made in the form
ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL ASPECTS 53
of bank notes, the Royal Bank of Canada can only make its loans by importing specie or American money secured from its banking transactions outside of Haiti, and then buying Haitian gourdes with this over the counter of the Banque Nationale de la Republique d'Haiti. These bank notes are later loaned to Haitian merchants at the going rate of interest. In this way, the Royal Bank of Canada uses its commercial banking business in other countries to furnish it with the monetary media which it exchanges for the Haitian money which, it in turn, loans out.
In 1920, Mr. Mcllheny, then Financial Adviser, proposed that a new law should be immediately voted which would give him the power to regulate the amount of foreign money which could be imported and exported, and that a clause in the new contract with the bank should provide that this power should be exercised afterwards with the advice of the Banque Nationale de la Republique d'Haiti.
The Royal Bank of Canada was afraid that this power would be used to prevent it from importing specie, and thus securing the monetary media which ft could loan out. In this event the Banque Nationale de la Republique d'Haiti would of course have had a virtual monopoly of banking and of note issue. The Royal Bank of Canada is said to have offered, however, to agree to the bill if the Banque Nationale de la Republique d'Haiti would in turn agree to accept New York drafts presented by the Royal Bank for gourdes. This offer, it is understood, was refused by the Banque Nationale de la Republique d'Haiti.
The Royal Bank of Canada then openly opposed the proposal, and succeeded in convincing virtually all the
important foreign business houses on the island that the result of such a measure would be a banking monopoly, and that this in turn would raise the rate of interest which they would have to pay on commercial loans.
Backed up by these interests, the Haitian government refused to ratify such a control over the importation of specie and foreign money. Mr. Mcllheny, with the knowledge and consent of the United States Department of State, as he later testified, then proceeded to withhold the payment of salaries to the Haitian officials. Despite this pressure, however, the opposition to the proposal was so strong that the bill was killed.
The officials of the American Occupation claim that it was necessary to limit the free importation of specie and foreign money in order to prevent the Royal Bank of Canada from disturbing the currency situation.
VI.The Relationship With Various Business Enterprises in Haiti
Since Haiti is not a rich country, it does not have many foreign economic enterprises. The island is of a limestone formation, and this prevents the profitable exploitation of minerals on any appreciable scale.
The island is, in addition, mountainous, and there is not a great deal of land in Haiti which would be available for large plantation developments with the exception of the Artibonite Valley.
There are a few companies, however, which have made investments in Haiti. Of these the best known and perhaps the most important is the Haitian-American Sugar Company, commonly known as "Hasco."
ECONOMICAL AND FINANCIAL ASPECTS 55
This company took over the ownership of a large sugar plantation from the Germans during the war. Later it bought up the wharfage rights, the electric light plant, and the street railway, which had previously been owned by German interests. It also owns a short railroad here.
The sugar experiment has in the main turned out to be a failure, but the wharfage and electric light concessions, because of the liberal terms granted by previous Haitian governments, have been financial successes, in so far as the company is concerned. The government guarantees six per cent interest upon an alleged investment in the railroad of nearly $700,000, and thus pays to the Haitian-American Sugar Company approximately $42,000 yearly. The corporation has brought a claim before the Claims Commission in which it urged that the government was responsible not only for the interest on the bonds, but also to the extent that the operating expenses had not been met.
This claim was refused by the Claims Commission, but because the jurisdiction of this body does not extend beyond 1916, it is still possible for the Haitian-American Sugar Company to bring suit in the courts on this claim against the Haitian government for the decade since 1916.
It is understood that the officials of this company are planning to claim extremely large damages, amounting to over $2,000,000. If the claim were granted, the situation of the Haitian treasury would become much more serious. It is to be hoped that every effort will be made to resist this claim for added payment, as nothing will be accomplished with it that will be of any benefit to the Haitian people themselves.
A number of other American enterprises, notably a large cotton plantation, have failed. An exclusive concession for certain types of pineapples has been granted in the north to a private company. Exclusive concessions are always dangerous although there was a partial excuse in this case, because of the desire to attract new capital. The company declared that unless it were given a monopoly in raising this type of pineapple it could not go to the trouble and expense of experimenting with it.
Chapter IV LAND AND LIVING By Emily G. Balch
Haiti is today a land of small cultivators or peasants, with a fringe of mechanics, trades people, business men, lawyers, doctors, Journalists and teachers. Besides Haitians, all of full or part African descent, there are white French priests and members of religious orders, both for teaching and nursing, and a sprinkling of foreigners for business, and Americans connected with the Occupation. No certain population figures can be given, as there is no census.
A pamphlet entitled Haiti issued by the Pan-American Union in 1924, puts the area of Haiti at 10,200 square miles, (26,418 square kilometers), and the population at approximately 2,050,000, which gives a density of about 210 to the square mile.1 It is to be remembered that these Haitian figures are mere estimates.2
In considering this density it must be taken into
1 Of the States of the American Union only four, all industrial, equal this density. The data given by the World Almanac show for Santo Domingo 45.9, Cuba 73.2, Jamaica 203.9, Porto Rico 377.8, Bermudas 1157.2.
1M. Dantes Bellegarde in his La Ripublique d'Haiti et les Etats Unis devant la Justice Internationale, 1924, p. 35, puts the population at 2,500,000 and the density at 86 per square kilometer.
account not only that Haiti has no industry, but that much of the soil is unusable because too mountainous, swampy or arid, and that but little of what is used is cultivated in any but the most primitive sense.
The population is the result of the multiplication, without any considerable influx from the outside, of the negroes and mulattoes who, in 1789, just before they drove out the former white owners and started on an independent career, were estimated at 740,000. That is, the population has increased rather less than three times (277%) in 120 years.
The Haitian peasants are doubly disinherited. The African tradition was to a large extent broken off short by slavery, and change of natural environment. The European tradition was not passed on to them except in a very limited degree. Nothing in their experience as slaves was such as to give them a taste or respect for labor, or any practice in enterprise or management, and there has been nothing since to fill the gap. It is not surprising, therefore, that their production is meager in range and quantity.
Even of the peasants' food, much is imported; all their flour, about half the rice used, and salt fish.3
*The values of the principal imports were in 1925 in round
Cotton manufactures and cotton.......... $7,168,000
Wheat flour ............................ 2,576,000
Meats and meat products................ 1,490,000
Iron, steel and manufactures of same.... 958,000
Fish ................................... 835,000
Soap ................................... 542.836
Machinery and apparatus................ 524,000
Tobacco and manufactures............... 447,000
Of the $20,000,000 of imports, $15,000,000 came from the
LAND AND LIVING
Their cultivation is very primitive and many people will tell you that they rather gather than cultivate, and subsist mainly on freely growing fruit like bananas, mangos, breadfruit, etc., and from the sale of products, such as coffee and cotton gathered from plants which are the almost untended descendants of the old French plantings.
Plows and wheeled vehicles, carts or barrows, are almost unknown. The rough heavy hoe, the spade and above all the cutlass-like manchette (in the Spanish-speaking West Indies, "machete"), is the chief implement, though there are also heavy hoes and spades.
The Haitians have little in the way of home industry to mitigate the lack of modern manufacture. They do not spin nor weave. Their clothes, both work-a-day and holiday, appear to be all cheap ready-made European products. The pretty bandanna or "Madras" which the women wear with or without a hat, and which was formerly worn by men also,4 is im-
United States, $1,732,323 from the United Kingdom and $1,359,546 from France.
Haiti. Latest Reports from Haitian Official sources. Foreign Trade Series. Pan American Union. No. 3, 1926. P. 1.
Leger points out (loc. cit.) p. 294 that modern production exceeds that under French rule when colonial prosperity was at its height.
Exports in 1790 (same, p. 292).
Sugarwhite ........................ 70,000,000 lbs.
" brown ........................ 93,000,000
Coffee ............................... 68,000,000
Cotton ............................... 6,000,000
Indigo ............................... 1,000,000
Cocoa ............................... 150,000
Lignum Vitse and Mahogany........... 150,000
'In the series of busts of the rulers of Haiti which adorn the reception hall of the President's palace one, all painted in
ported from England. Manchettes are imported from Germany.
The people make simple furniture, and presumably, tools and implements. They weave hats and baskets and bake coarse earthenware.6 They build their own houses, very commonly of wickerwork, overlaid with clay, which makes a sort of plaster; with roof of thatch, a door, and small unglazed windows, if any, and with solid shutters. The walls are often painted in ochre or dull red, perhaps with an ornamental band about the windows. They are charming, seen among pale green drooping banana leaves on a mountain side, or grouped patriarchally among fruit trees in a sort of compound of clean smooth-trodden earth, but as places to live in they must be very cramped and crowded, and they are apparently very conducive to tuberculosis. The cost of such a house, one informant told us, might be put at $10, another estimated $20, another $25.
For animals the universal means of peasant transport for goods or persons is the tiny Haitian donkey. There are also cattle, goats, hogs and fowl (very small and poor looking). The most conspicuous domestic animal after the donkey is the gamecock carried everywhere under its master's arm. Riding horses are, and especially were, used by the well-to-do.
the natural colors, wears a madras under the cocked hat of a General.
* Leger, writing in 1907, says: "In Haiti there are many skillful workmen, excellent joiners, cabinet-makers, hatters, tailors, tinsmiths, tanners, saddlers, potters, silversmiths, printers, bookbinders, etc. There are soap factories and brickyards." He also speaks of saw-mills and of an ice factory at Port-au-Prince.
LAND AND LIVING
It has been estimated that the average value consumed in a Haitian peasant family amounts to about $20.00 a year per capita. This includes not only the money spent, but the value of the use of the house, and of everything that is consumed, expressed in money terms. Translated into life-terms this means not only living at the very bottom of the scale as regards range of wants and satisfactions, but too often, undernourishment.
Buying and selling is largely done by the women at market. Starting early in the morning, if not the night before, the long processions corrie on donkey back, or afoot with amazing burdens on their splendidly poised heads, gathering to the great social and economic function of their days. The ethnologist points out that to ride balancing a loose slipper from the upturned toe is a sign of descent from such and such an African tribe, that to carry a jar or other burden balanced on the flat palm of the back-turned hand with the elbow pressed against the body is the mark of a different African stock. All alike are graceful, free-moving, very much alive, and often, to the seeing eye, very beautiful. They sit in the town square, perhaps in thousands,6 with their small stock of wares spread out before them, and before night they are returning with their purchases. The men sell their coffee to the negociant, and are said to be very shrewd in their dealings. If they are not pleased with the price offered they hold on to the precious berries, storing them in the galetas under the peaked roof of thatch, where their quality is said to
"Estimated at 5.000 at Port-au-Prince.
improve with keeping. If they need money they sell coffee from time to time, as occasion arises. Otherwise they wait until they can get a price that satisfies them. Oranges, bananas, and the various very perishable tropical fruits are sold only locally.
The principal products available for export are shown by the following statistics on the value of ex-
ports for 1925:
Coffee ...................... $15,219,899
Logwood and logwood extract.. 690,620
Raw sugar.................. 376,532
Cacao ...................... 184,208
Of the coffee, which in 1925 constituted over 78% of the whole value, perhaps 80% goes to France.7 It is to be noted that the recent abnormally high prices of coffee swell its proportionate importance.8
Outside of agricultural products, including molasses, and tafia or rum, little is produced for sale at home or abroad.8 It is curious that while mahogany grows
'The value of exports during the last five years have been as follows, in round numbers.
1921.................. $ 6,590,000 $ 2,910,000
1922.................. 10,700,000 7,490,000
1923.................. 14,600,000 10,860,000
1924.................. 14,176,000 10,360,000
1925.................. 19,400,000 15,220,000
8 Haitian products exhibited at the St. Louis Exposition included rum and liqueurs, bay rum, cigars, peanuts, honey, shoes, skins, leather, embroidery and laces, tortoiseshell combs, etc., and willow furniture, besides the chief products exported today. Leger, he. cit., pp. 296-7.
LAND AND LIVING
wild, and is used in Haiti, little or none is exported, either as lumber or made into furniture.
There is little for tourists, who consist mainly of cruise parties, spending only a few hours on shore, to buy as souvenirs. A cumbersome earthenware jar, a quaint little rush-bottomed chair, bags and baskets made of strips of palm leaf, native lace and embroidery, perhaps guava jelly and candied fruit, seem to complete the list, and even these are not too easily to be found.
It has not proved practicable to find a foreign market for Haitian lace or needlework, as enough is supplied by Porto Rico, where the product is already well standardized, and which can send it into the United States duty free.
As to savings, the peasant is presumably out of the way of investments in anything else besides land. If a man receives a check, his tendency, we were told, is to hold on to it, and cash it only when he can convert his savings into land.
No attempt is made here to describe the life of the elite. One finds club-houses of attractive architecture, very pretty villas 8 with lovely gardens, a hospitable and delicious table, European in style but with some tropical additions, and cultivated conversation in French polished in Paris.
One hears talk of Romain Rolland and Dostoyevsky, of popular superstitions and Haitian history, and goes away, perhaps, with a gift of a copy of The Anthology of Haitian Literature collected by Dr. Georges Sylvain,
"A peculiarity which tells its story of the climate is the absence of glass windows.
and others, and crowned by the French Academy; two solid volumes very excellently gotten out by a Port-au-Prince press.10
"(Euvres des Ecrivains Haitiens. Auteurs Haitiens. Mor-ceaux Choisis, precedes de notices biographiques. (2 volumes, one of prose (pp. 331), one of verse.)
Imprimerie de Madame Smith. Port-au-Prince, 1904.
NOTES ON THE LAND SITUATION IN HAITI By Emily G. Balch
The situation as regards the use and control of land is basic everywhere. It is of peculiar importance in Haiti, with no industries, and with other resources on as small a scale as they must be in such a little and primitive country.
The background is fundamentally different from that of the United States. The roots of Haiti are in tribal Africa, and in pre-revolutionary France, where the feudal system, with its conception of an inalienable possession of the soil vested in the King, still prevailed. It is worth while to remember that both the tribal and the feudal attitude toward land is non-commercial and that under such a system land is not like other commodities, that the arbiter of claims is custom, and that rentals tend to become fixed charges with no relation to changing land values, as was noticeably the case in England. Furthermore, the mere fact of using a piece of land either as tenant or as occupier, without a legal title, tends to harden into ownership, a principle akin to "squatter titles" in the United States. Although the feudal system was not transplanted to Haiti it lay in the French background and there have been on the other hand no such industrial and agricultural developments as have shaped either American or English conceptions and laws as to land.
The colonial regime which crashed in the Wars of Independence, (ended 1804), was a plantation system with large scale production of coffee, sugar and cotton, resting on the labor of African slaves, and provided with roads, irrigation works, sugar mills, etc.
Intermediate between the white colonists and the slaves was the often favored class of freedmen of mixed blood who held, according to estimates, a third of the land. An effort to rule out the creation of small properties was made by forbidding the sale of lots of less than fifty carreaux.1
The old colonial plantations were called "habitations," and today the ordinary way of describing the location of a piece of land is by the name of the "habitation" where it lies. The plantation system, however, disappeared with French rule and the former slaves largely occupied the land either as legal or de facto owners or as tenants. Although there were doubtless some relatively large private holdings and much State land there was no class of Haitians with the capital, managing ability or perhaps the desire to undertake large-scale undertakings, and the old roads, aqueducts, mills and other improvements were, it may be inevitably, allowed to crumble away into uselessness. The peasant with all his ignorance and lack of implements, even of plows or wheel-barrows or carts, is said to have done better with his land than large owners.
Haiti became a peasant country with neither the advantage nor the disadvantage of a system of large holdings with scientific entrepreneurs at the top and landless laborers at the bottom.
A prime difficulty in regard to land in Haiti is the *A carreau is approximately zYs acres.
NOTES ON LAND SITUATION IN HAITI 67
prevailing uncertainty of titles. It is common for peasant families which may have' been living on a given piece of land for generations and whose right no one disputes to be entirely without documentary evidence.
Even those who have papers find it hard to keep them safe in primitive huts in a tropical climate exposed to theft, fire, damp and, above all, to the cockroaches which commit inconceivable ravages even in the libraries of townspeople.
The uncertainty as to titles is not due only to lack of documents. Agricultural land is not taxed.2 It is frequently neither registered nor surveyed. Land is often divided, passed on to heirs, and bought or exchanged quite informally, even though according to law. To have papers passed in proper form takes time and money.
The idea that occupation and use of land conferred or should confer title was present from the first and adds to the uncertainties. In a memoir of 1806 attacking Dessalines, then in power, for taking possession of land under pretext that those occupying it could not prove their title, it is said "Is it not indubitable that after having enjoyed a property for ten, twenty or thirty years, one should be presumed its true owner ?" Under the Haitian Code Civil, (1826), legal title to land could be acquired by 20 years' occupancy, or even in shorter time where the occupant shows color of title. So far as State land is concerned, these squatters' titles or titles by prescription have been abolished but
* In case of transfer of property there are taxes aggregating 2% for undeveloped ("rural") property, 3% for urban or developed property.
the claims of the heirs of those who thus acquired property are valid. The difncultyis to prove them.
In general this is the difficulty with titles resting on prescription and not alone with them.
Much land is the property of the State but ho one knows how much. This land may not be sold, but like private land is often leased in small parcels to peasants either on shares, often half shares, or for a money rental. The records are in great confusion resulting, again, in uncertainty that is very detrimental to all honest interests.
In 1878, M. Armand Thoby, Minister of the Interior, started to make a land register or "cadastre," which is said "to have brought in much money to the State," but it was never carried through, and records of leases and payments remained very defective.
The present administration in Haiti is doing what it can to bring order out of chaos and plans to do more but the complications are enormous. This uncertainty regarding the rights of owners, tenants, and customary occupants and of the State itself is calculated to create a great sense of nervousness and helplessness and under grasping officials would open the way to spoliation in legal form.
One of the first acts after the whites had been eliminated was the Constitution of 1806, which "confiscated to the profit of the State all territory previously owned by a French white." The property of other owners was respected.3 The Constitution further provided that "no
* The wholesale confiscation of the Haitian Revolution was naturally disputed by France, and French claims remained a constant menace till 1825, when President Boyer extinguished them by an arrangement with the French government by
NOTES ON LAND SITUATION IN HAITI 69
white of whatever nation shall set foot in this territory as master or proprietor, nor hereafter acquire any property there."
This prohibition was somewhat changed in form by later legislation but until after the coming of the Americans the law continued to forbid non-Haitians to own land in Haiti although they might legally lease it or hold it on mortgage, or could evade the law by marriage with a Haitian, or by acting through a man of straw. Naturalized foreigners of any race or nationality could own land like a native.
As has been said, one of the first changes to follow the American Occupation was the opening of land ownership to foreigners. Article V of the Constitution of 1918 reads: "The right to the ownership of landed property is granted to foreigners residing in Haiti, and to associations formed by foreigners for the needs of residential, agricultural, commercial, industrial and educational purposes.
"This right shall end within a period of five years after the foreigner has ceased to reside in the country, or after the association has ceased active operations." .
Before the Occupation there were some Haitians of standing who argued that the legislation as to the holding of land by foreigners should be changed.
On the other hand Haitians of the Opposition claim that change of their traditional principle would never have been accepted knowingly and willingly. Since its enactment every move of the American Occupation or of the Haitian Government, which is considered by the
which Haiti agreed to pay an indemnity of 150,000,000 francs. This was later reduced and paid off with interest, substantially by the peasants through the export tax on their products.
Opposition as a mere tool of the Americans, is surrounded by a cloud of suspicion, natural in itself, and also fostered both by patriots and by interested troublemakers.
While the old law against foreign ownership stood, Haitians were doubtless exposed to frauds and injustices and might be ousted from what were literally ancestral acres by chicanery or despotism. Agrarian troubles were sometimes a factor in political disorders, for instance in 1843,* and again in 1865. The difference is that so long as the old Constitutional provision held, there was no fear of a widespread disappearance of small properties in order to create large-scale undertakings, for which, as has been said, Haitians have neither shown a taste, nor commanded the capital or technical training. Although even under the old law, foreigners could and did acquire more or less land under color of marriage with Haitians, or through legal fictions or otherwise, the extent of the danger was effectually limited.
Some Haitians indeed tend to believe that the nub of the whole American policy toward Haiti was the desire to open up Haitian land for foreign land speculation and see in this its chief purpose and its greatest menace. Their judgment in regard to all American action touching land is shaped by the conviction that it has a hidden
4 Peasants had in many cases lost their land through failure to meet usurious interest on loans or mortgages, and encouraged by promises from one of the political factions took up arms calling themselves "l'armee souffrante," and crying "down with the process-servers." They demanded to be freed from the incumbrances of the Rural Code, to have schools and their share in the possession of land. Leger, pp. 192, 195, 196, 200.
NOTES ON LAND SITUATION IN HAITI 71
and sinister purpose. All the talk about the need of a field for the production on a large scale of rubber for the American market increased this feeling, but at the present time the interest in rubber seems to be attracted to the Philippines rather than to Haiti.
The question of large plantations which means also the question of the coming in of foreign capital is of the most fundamental importance in a country like Haiti. If successful such undertakings might improve the technical methods of production. They would give work, and might very possibly raise wages, and with them in some degree the level of living conditions. They might lessen the emigration to Cuba, which to Haitians seems such a terrible indictment of American administration.
The American point of view is stated as follows:
"What is needed is capital and management, neither of which exists, even potentially, in Haiti. You have here a people which has undergone over 100 years of oppression during which the acquisition of property by a peasant merely focused upon him the attention of the politico-military notable of the community who promptly despoiled him of his possessions. There was no incentive to accumulate property and no possibility of development of managerial talent.
"The ambitious peasant saw that the only way to affluence was to associate himself with and adopt the methods of his oppressors. Having adopted those methods, there was an inevitable tendency to adopt their customs, perhaps the most outstanding of which was voluntary or involuntary expatriation and the expenditure or investment abroad of their ill-gotten accumulations.
"One may wonder why, with the maintenance of internal order assured at least for the period of the Treaty, capital and managerial ability can not be created in Haiti and by Haitians. The answer is, first, that both are things of very slow growth, and second, that the Haitians, with reason, have no confidence that their judicial system will function as a protector of property, personal or real. For the present, therefore, Haitian capital and management are non-existent; no foreigner would settle in this country to become a peasant farmer and adopt the mode of life and standard of living of the Haitian peasant.
"Foreign capital will come to this country only on a commercial basis, on a large scale and with foreign management, hence the viewpoint that large plantations scientifically managed giving employment to laborers who now emigrate to Cuba are essential to the economic progress of Haiti."
As one man said to us: "If Haitians can be trained to sufficiently successful independent cultivation, well and good, if not, it will be to their own advantage to have big plantations and wages. What peasants want is a job."
The contrary point of view, very briefly put by a Haitian, is: "The Haitian policy is radically against all rural proletariat; it is why it encourages small land ownership. The system of large estates with its salaried workers will create in Haiti an agricultural problem as bad if not worse than the land problem of Russia."
The fact is that it is impossible to predict what economic and social effects will result if the Haitian peasant is exposed to the full pressure of high-power
NOTES ON LAND SITUATION IN HAITI 73
economic forces as they now exist in the United States and elsewhere. A landless class, with all that this would mean in a country like Haiti, would seem to be the natural consequence of the investment of capital on large agricultural estates got together by buying out or otherwise dispossessing small owners and tenants, even if all purchases were quite voluntary and on fair terms conditions by no means certain to be secured.
There is the danger of such a change as has taken place in Porto Rico, where a large proportion of the peasant class has been replaced by a class of laborers wholly dependent on employment.
It is a perilous business suddenly to submit a primitive organism to the stress of modern competition and doubly so when the two parties are respectively white and negro.
Under American administration it is possible, though not to be counted upon, that the officials on the spot might follow a policy of protecting the Haitian peasant against the foreign investor. If or when Americans evacuate Haiti and leave the country to itself it is still dubious how far native holders of power would or could protect the peasants' interests against capital pressing for land, and willing to make it worth while to meet its wishes.
If no safeguards are evolved a system which invites foreign land ownership in Haiti may create evils that ages cannot solve.
As to the amount of land that has been actually acquired in Haiti by Americans the stories current in Haiti and the United States are not borne out by the best official data that one can get. These are as follows:
United West Indies Corporation 16,000 acquired 1918-19.
Haitian Products Company 10,000 purchased by an Englishman prior to 1915; owned by this man and by the United West Indies Corporation.
Haitian-American Sugar Company 7,100
most of this land was purchased or at least options were obtained for its purchase by Germans prior to 1915. Small areas have been acquired since the American Occupation.
Haitian Pineapple Company 600 acquired in 1923.
North Haiti Sugar Company 400 owned for forty years by Belgians, acquired by an American corporation about 1922.
Societe Commerciale d'Haiti 8,000
acquired from 1918 to 1922. A recent purchase for growing sisal 1,000
These figures show only some 0.64 of one per cent of the land area of Haiti in foreign hands, but it is true that the quality of this land is decidedly better than the
* Robert W. Dunn, in his American Foreign Investments (N. Y., 1926) gives figures which are in some cases more, in some cases less, than those 'given above. The figures are not strictly comparable as the dates may not be the same and Dunn's figures may include leased land, but as they stand they substantially corroborate the picture given by the figures cited.
NOTES ON LAND SITUATION IN HAITI 75
average. They also show that a considerable part of this was acquired, in spite of the law, prior to the Occupation.
Of the six companies in this list fourall except the second and the lastare commonly understood to have been unsuccessful.
The American point of view is expressed by a highly competent informant in Haiti: "Recently there has been almost no activity in the acquisition of land by foreigners, due to the unfavorable legislation of Haiti in so far as regulations governing land ownership are concerned, and in view of the irresponsibility of the Haitian courts which afford no adequate protection to property rights. I happen to know that the owners of practically all the land in the hands of foreigners would be most happy to dispose of their holdings.* I should not wish to own any land in Haiti except under the provisions of a contract with the government which would permit the arbitration of disputes, and which would not force the foreigner into Haitian courts, where he cannot receive favorable consideration no matter what the merits of his case."
With a dense population and no industry, land is life, and more especially it is freedom. The usual passion of the peasant, especially a peasant with numerous children, for land must be intensified by remembrances of a very cruel form of slavery only a few generations back which are still associated with the idea of working for the white man.6
'An American official maintains "The peasant likes to work for wages and he prefers to work for the white man because he is certain that his wages will be paid." It is important to distinguish, however, between liking to get employment at
To confirm this feeling came the disastrous policy of the revival of the "corvee." Unfortunately one of the first undertakings of the American Occupation, the very necessary work of building roads, was pushed through by the employment of forced labor. This was permitted by an obsolete law and was at first reasonable enough in its methods, and accepted as such, but later, as the roads came to be extended into distant parts, the work was carried on with great lack of consideration, and under conditions very close to slavery. It should be added that the use of forced labor has been given up and that labor, except that of convicts, is now paid for. Nevertheless the impression made is not easily effaced.
The emigration from Haiti which is assuming considerable proportions, is regarded by many Haitians not only as a tragic loss of population, and especially of ifs more energetic elements, but as evidence of unsatisfactory economic conditions under American administration.
I do not know the facts as to Haiti, but a study of other emigration movements shows that not only do those who emigrate from economic motives go to better themselves, but that unless they do better themselves in fact, the stream soon ceases to flow. Furthermore, emigration from a region of less production and lower wages to a better, brings in to the home country not
wages in slack seasons and liking to exchange the status of the small owner for that of the landless laborer.
Professor Knight in an article in Current History, June, 1926, says, "Americans looking at land with a view to purchase often go out of their way to avoid villages, because they know that their mission would stir up hostility if suspected."
NOTES ON LAND SITUATION IN HAITI 77
only a very useful flow of moneymoney often available for investment in land and improvementsbut new standards of living, and above all, release from the "cake of custom," and receptivity to new ideas.
The figures for Haitians entering and leaving Cuba during the years 1912 to 1921, as given in the "Inmi-gracion y Movimiento de Pasajeros," published by the Cuban Secretaria de Hacienda, Section Estadistica, are as follows:
Year Entered Cuba Departed from Cuba
1912 209 328
1913 1,512 498
1914 117 25
1915 2,490 470
1916 4,878 980
1917 10,241 1,977
1918 11,268 4,427
1919 7,329 6,143
1920 30,722 12,651
1921 12,567 4,267
Total 81,333 31,766
These figures are not to be had for later dates, but records of the Haitian Internal Revenue Bureau show that emigrants leaving Haiti for Cuba numbered 21,758 during the fiscal year 1924-25, and 19,720 during the first ten months of 1925-26. It appears likely that about two-thirds return from Cuba to Haiti. It is officially estimated that of late years returning emigrants have brought back to Haiti an average of 1,000 gourdes per capita.
Haitians claim that the true figures for emigration are much larger owing to much smuggling of emigrants across the Dominican border to escape the various charges for passports and other official requirements,
and put the total number who have left the country at 340,000; 150,000 during the last two years.
The preceding notes on the situation in Haiti, scanty as they are, suggest some of the difficulties, and it is in the light of all this that the present situation must be considered, especially the matter of legislation in regard to land.
On the Haitian side there is criticism of a law increasing the term for which State land may be rented from the old limit of nine years to 30, but as a matter of fact no land has been leased under this law on account of other provisions unfavorable to the tenant. There is also Haitian criticism of the law increasing rentals of State land "in view of the fact that the tariff regulating the letting of rural and urban real estate does not correspond to their present value, and that there is ground for revising it with a view to a reasonable increase of the general receipts of the country."
Another law in regard to land which arouses just and bitter criticism is one which was not only not pushed but was definitely, though unsuccessfully, opposed by American financial authorities in Haiti.
This case is a good example of one of the root difficulties of the present regime in Haiti, the division of power between the Haitian government and the American Occupation officials with the consequent uncertainty as to where responsibility lies and every opportunity for each to throw the blame on the other.
This law, of January 29, 1926, makes it quicker and easier for the State or commune to resume possession of leased land, either for use for public purposes on expiration of a contract, or in default of payment of dues. The provisions of the law are very summary.
NOTES ON LAND SITUATION IN HAITI 79
After a sort of emergency court procedure, judgment must be given within five days. The procedure permits neither "opposition ni appel." If there are no buildings, the tenant may not be allowed more than eight days to leave; if there are buildings, 40 days. The authorities may be authorized to demolish the buildings at the risk and expense of the tenant. In this case they may cover their expenses by selling the materials resulting from the demolition at a public auction, of which the tenant need not be notified. Their claims for the cost of court procedure, and for rentals due, have priority over those of other creditors. If the tenants or other occupiers of the property claim a right to an indemnity "or even to the property of the estate," they are permitted later to present their claims through the usual channels.
As regards the ownership of land by foreigners as provided for by Article V of the Constitution of 1918, quoted above, a law passed in 1920, and interpreting this article in a way disapproved by the American authorities, has been replaced, to their satisfaction, by a law enacted under date of Feb. 15, 1925, by the Council of State, which is appointed by the President.
This law, says General Russell, the American High Commissioner, "covers the subject more fully than the law of 1920, particularly regarding inheritance, and lies well within the provisions of Article V of the Haitian Constitution. The Haitian government is to be congratulated on the happy solution of this vexatious problem." Further legislation as to ownership of real estate by foreigners is contemplated by the High Commissioner.
It is not surprising if American administrators in
Haiti encounter mistrust. Corruption is not unknown in the United States, the amount of this corruption is magnified beyond its real significance by a sensational press at home, and multiplied again by a foreign press which is not sorry to make the most of it; American representation in the West Indies has also not been without its unworthy members. Furthermore, in countries like Haiti, Egypt or Turkey, where there is a tradition of giving and taking bribes, and of official venality and oppressiveness, and where public money has always practically been held to be fair game, the alien administrator not only works in the face of a general presumption of dishonesty in public officials but in a demoralizing atmosphere which must greatly add to his difficulties especially in using native appointees.
All this is a very unfortunate background for land reforms which the Occupation has in mind. As I understand, a Land Court to adjudicate titles is contemplated, this to award a title on reasonable evidence of a right to claim it, and to confer a fresh title to a reasonable amount of land upon those who have no claim except the fact of actual occupation; this title to be conferred gratis if the occupation has been of some duration; for a reasonable price if recent.
A land survey, with registration on the Torrens or some similar system, is an obvious part of this reform. One of the American engineers estimates the cost at $1,500,000. It will not, of course, be done all at once, but could be begun, and pushed gradually forward. "It should be done, even if Haiti has to borrow the money," said one American, "a loan for this purpose and for irrigation would be good business."
Finally, the Occupation authorities are studying a
NOTES ON LAND SITUATION IN HAITI 81
project for a new fundamental law of landed property, the aim of which, it is said, is to be the protection of bona-fide customary holders, whether proprietors or tenants, regardless of the absence of deeds.
It is an inevitable result of the way in which the United States came into control in Haiti that it must work against an opposition which, if it is partly factious, is also animated by some of the most powerful and enduring of human motives.
It is the Nemesis of governments that do not rest on the consent of the governed that what they do with the best of intentions may be as harmful as bad actions.
The whole situation is a false one, and, as it appears to some Americans, at least, can be solved in only one way, by the withdrawal of American control, not with inconsiderate suddenness, but just as soon as may be consistent with giving the Haitians a chance to prepare for the change.
AGRICULTURE AND THE OCCUPATION By Emily G. Balch
The work of the Department of Agriculture under Dr. Freeman is too recent to show much result, and it would require thorough technical acquaintance with his problems to judge between the skeptical, who are numerous, and not confined to his Haitian critics, and those who believe in his work.
Besides the Central School of Agriculture, spoken of in the chapter on Education, and agricultural experimentation in various lines, he has established official weighing stations which protect the seller and buyer of cotton from fraud. In four of the chief coffee districts he has set up free decorticating machines, which prepare the coffee berries without injuring them.
He is giving bonuses to the amount of $10,000 a year to planters of coffee to improve its quality. He is endeavoring to improve the breed of cattle, giving cows to peasants, on the understanding that he receives back each alternate calf, the peasant keeping the first. He has established an agricultural adviser in each district to give information as to plants and animals, and has set up veterinary clinics, which seems to strike Haitians as absurd and wasteful. The shocking underfeeding and neglect of animals in Haiti is only
'AGRICULTURE AND OCCUPATION 83
too evident. In this matter Haitians have everything to learn.
As regards fruit, which is a staple of life among the peasants, there is no export trade worth mentioning. The United Fruit Company has not developed its business in Haiti, and neither fruit nor vegetables go to any extent to foreign markets. Dr. Freeman is experimenting with cold storage shipment of tomatoes to New York, but at last accounts had not overcome the difficulties of getting them there in good condition. One can buy oranges, small, but sweet and juicy, for a cent a dozen in Port-au-Prince, but oranges, lemons and grape fruit are excluded from the United States for fear of the West Indian fruit fly, and other pests.
Dr. Freeman's department has also assisted the U. S. Department of Agriculture in investigating the possibilities of rubber culture in Haiti. These are stated "to demonstrate most clearly the feasibility and practicability of rubber growing in Haiti. A small amount of rubber has already been exported from Haiti, bringing one dollar a pound." 1
One frequently hears expressed the fear that Americans may wish to create big plantations and undermine the independent small owners. Dr. Freeman, on the other hand, talks of giving the young rubber trees from an experimental plantation which he has acquired for the government, to peasants who will agree to plant and tend them. If they thrive, the rubber yield of a few trees would be an addition to the money income of the owner, and the many small lots of rubber
1 Fourth Annual Report of the American High Commissioner, March 6, 1926.
brought to market would, like the coffee, the cotton and logwood, out of a little "make a mickle."
The question of irrigation is one of the most important practical problems, but it can only be referred to here, for lack of time and material. Some irrigation projects have been completed. The chief irrigation project, that of the Artibonite Valley and plain, which involves the irrigation and cultivation of some 65,000 to 80,000 acres, is still being studied. The difficulties seem to be in the field not of engineering, but of social politics. If the cost is assessed on a compulsory basis, it is likely to result in dispossessing actual occupants who cannot meet the charges. Is any other way practicable?
It may be that the wisest thing is to let the project wait until the agricultural evolution of Haiti has gone considerably further. But this whole matter is highly technical.
The question of forestry has also been studied by Dr. Freeman's department, with special reference to the conservation of logwood, or as the French call it, campeche, a valuable dye wood which grows wild in Haiti, and has been hitherto cut recklessly.2
Professor Knight's judgment is that: "Probably our agricultural schemes for Haiti are too ambitious, and imperfectly adapted to the country. Farming is more like a big industry in the United States even than it is in Europe, and we do not understand peasant proprietorship very well. If we construct vast irrigation works the land will probably have to be owned and managed by big foreign companies, which will expect
' Fourth Annual Report of the American High Commissioner, March 6, 1926.
AGRICULTURE AND OCCUPATION 85
to employ the cheap Haitian labor in the cane or sisal fields. The Haitian wants to own his land and work it himself, and if it is really for him that we are developing the country, we have no right to lay out a program which will violate his wishes" (Current History, June, 1926).
The budget of the Department of Agriculture for the fiscal year 1925-1926 is as follows:
Administration ................... $ 35,000.00
Central experimental farm......... 35,000.00
Experimental breeding station...... 15,000.00
Experimental coffee plantation...... 10,000.00
Sisal (plantations) ................ 5,000.00
Forestry ......................... 20,000.00
Cooperative farms ............... 12,000.00
Agricultural agents ............... 15,000.00
Rural agricultural schools.......... 20,000.00
Central School of Agriculture...... 105,000.00
Scholarships at same.............. 10,000.00
Veterinary clinics ................ 5,000.00
Soil analysis..................... 5,000.00
Agricultural fairs ................ 5,000.00
Bonuses and prizes for coffee plantations ........................... 10,000.00
Telegrams and telephones.......... 1,000.00 $308,000.00
Office and accounting staff.........$ 6,740.52
Subsidies to a meteorological station
and an observatory.............. 792.00
Miscellaneous .................... 1,090.00 8,622.52
HEALTH AND SANITATION
By Charlotte Atwood
The most prevalent diseases in Haiti are fevers, chiefly malaria; those caused by intestinal worms; syphilis and yaws; tuberculosis. There are also filariasis, though not to a large extent, and dysentery. Accurate figures on the prevalence of these diseases cannot be obtained, as many of the people live and die without medical care. The estimates of the American physicians of the Health Service are, however, appalling.
According to these, 75 per cent of the cases examined are affected by syphilis, two thirds by malaria in the coastal regions, and 75 per cent by hookworm and ringworm. Tuberculosis seems to be characteristic of every town dweller upon whom an autopsy has been made. These figures ought of course to be read in the light of modern revelations of the frequency of evidence of infection among persons in ordinarily good health.
From the death statistics given in the 1923-24 report of the Public Health Service, one may make the' following deduction: in the order of frequency, fever, including a large percentage of malaria, comes first; then tuberculosis, malaria (diagnosed as such), syphilis, intestinal parasites, and dysentery. According to
HEALTH AND SANITATION 87
Dr. C. S. Butler, Head of the Health Service, syphilis and yaws are the most damaging economically; malaria, which in some degree affects 50 per cent or more of the people, is the most generally damaging; and third in its effects is hookworm. Tuberculosis, together with its predisposing cause, undernourishment, he assigns as probably the cause of more deaths than any other disease. Another medical authority writes that hookworm infestation is apparently not very severe.
A doctor at the head of one of the hospitals said that to understand the handicap under which these people labor from the joint burden of undernourishment and disease, an American would have to imagine what it would be like for a man to wear a 50 pound load on his back, night and day.
The commonest diseases are largely spread in three ways: through mosquitoes, human feces, and body contact.
Organized work for improved health and sanitary conditions is under the Service d'Hygiene of the American Occupation. An exception to this is the attractive little hospital, the Hospice Saint Francrjis de Sales, managed and equipped by Haitians, and served by French nursing sisters, with a clinic in charge of Dr. Paul Salomon, of the Paris Medical Faculty, a Haitian. There is also available, of course, the private services of Haitian physicians, of whom there are about 200.
By 1924-25 the Service d'Hygiene had established: (1) 10 public health districts, (2) 102 rural clinics, (3) 16 rural dispensaries, (4) 11 hospitals, each with a dispensary connected with it.
The whole Republic of Haiti, including four small
islands, is covered by these public health districts. The rural communities are without resident physicians, both because of primitive living conditions, and inadequate returns. The peasants are served through the rural dispensaries and rural clinics. In 1924-25 the consultations at these dispensaries and clinics numbered 146,579-
A physician of the Service d'Hygiene holds a clinic at these 102 rural stations monthly or oftener. The follow-up treatment, sometimes requiring daily medicine or dressings, is carried on by the priests, and Haitian women dressers, who have been prepared for their work by a three months' course in practical nursing. Besides these general clinics there are held also salvarsan clinics in the rural communities. In the 17 clinics of the Department of the North, in 1924, there were from 220-400 monthly consultations, and 1,000-2,000 dressings.
The 11 hospitals are used as centers for laboratory investigation as well as for treatment of disease. In 1924 the medical personnel for all hospitals included 29 Americans, 16 Haitians, and one German.
There are also pharmacists, both American and Haitian, a Haitian dentist, four American Red Cross nurses, Catholic Sisters, and Haitian nurses from the Training School for Haitian Nurses connected with the General Hospital at Port-au-Prince.
In 1924 there were 6,734 admissions to the hospitals, with a daily average of 707 out-patients, 568 major and 2,936 minor operations; 26,624 salvarsan, and 16,268 mercury injections. The cost of upkeep for that year was 1,400,004 gourdes, or $280,000, of which $59,437 went for administration and supplies, plus 201,-
HEALTH AND SANITATION 89
133.65 gourdes ($40,226.73) for extraordinary and supplementary credits.
The Service d'Hygiene is overcoming the serious health conditions as rapidly as the nature of things and their budgetary allowance will permit. Inability to provide a living wage for Haitian physicians means, as already said, that rural communities are without resident physicians; lack of funds also means insufficient supplies, for instance of salvarsan; and other hindrances to effective service in the face of the dire need of the country. It would seem to be in the interest of economy and of sound building for the future to look first to the health of the people on whom the future of Haiti must of necessity depend.
The Service d'Hygiene plans to put the responsibility for the health of Haiti more and more as conditions permit in the hands of a trained Haitian personnel. Their present source of supply for such men is the National Medical School, to which the Haitian government gives a yearly subvention of $8,000. This sum is inadequate to provide any equipment worthy the name, or to pay full-time professors.
The highest salary is $80.00 a month paid to the director of the school. Graduates from this school are admitted as internes to the hospitals under the American Occupation, and to the St. Francois de Sales hospital in Port-au-Prince, already referred to, which is administered entirely by Haitians, except for the French Catholic Sisters who act as nurses. This latter institution has three clinics a week, with an average of 150 patients each.1
According to Dr. Butler, plans are already on foot See also note under subsidies.
for the establishment of a properly equipped medical school that will in a few years turn out enough well trained Haitians to meet the health needs of their country.2
The Service d'Hygiene now plans, among other things, the construction of a 400-bed hospital for the insane, at present cared for at the prison and appropriations have been already made for a site; a place for the segregation of lepers, now, for the most part, at large; the increase of rural dispensaries to thirty; medical inspection of schools; and the extension of sanitation to smaller towns, as fast as funds will permit.
A complete survey of the quarantine situation has been made, a new quarantine law drafted, and plans for a quarantine station completed. In this connection, the Public Health Service of Haiti was fortunate to have the services of a U. S. Public Health Service official to assist it in the consideration of the quarantine problem.
A pressing need is provision for tuberculosis. At present it is felt that nothing can be done for a tuberculous patient. Death is inevitable under the native conditions of living.
From what I could see and hear, there is more good feeling, and less hard feeling among Haitians toward the Service d'Hygiene, than toward any other branch of the American Occupation.3 This can be explained
'Since this was written the Occupation has taken over the Haitian School of Medicine.
"Such friction as there is seems to have developed mainly in connection with the Medical School at Port-au-Prince, on which see the chapter on education, and with the desire of Haitian medical men to be accorded full professional recognition, and also in connection with complaints, such as are met