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Statement on the President's Commission for the Study and Review of Conditions in the Republic of Haiti.

February 04, 1930


"Now that the Senate and House have approved the appropriation for a thorough inquiry into our problems in Haiti, I shall appoint a commission at once to undertake it. I hope to be able to announce its personnel within a week.

"The primary question which is to be investigated is when and how we are to withdraw from Haiti. The second question is what we shall do in the meantime. Certainly we shall withdraw our marines and officials sometime. There are some people who wish for us to scuttle overnight. I am informed that every group in Haiti considers that such action would result in disaster to the Haitian people. On the other hand, our Treaty of 1915 [39 Stat. 1654], under which our forces are present in that country in the main, expires in 1936, or 6 years hence. We have no mandate to continue the present relationship after that date.

"We have an obligation to the people of Haiti, and we need to plan how we will discharge that obligation. There is need to build up a certainty of efficient and stable government in order that life and property may be protected after we withdraw. We need to know, therefore, what sequent steps should be taken in cooperation with the Haitian people to bring about this result.

"The answers to these questions must be worked out in broad vision after careful investigation of the entire subject by men of unbiased minds. It is for this reason that I have proposed to send a commission to Haiti to determine the facts, to study and survey the whole problem in the light of our experience in the past 15 years and the social and political background of the Haitian people, to confer with all sides, to recommend the sequent and positive steps which will lead to the liquidation of our responsibilities and at the same time assure stable government in Haiti.

"As I have stated before, I have no desire for representation of the American Government abroad through our military forces. We entered Haiti in 1915 for reasons arising from chaotic and distressing conditions, the consequence of a long period of civil war and disorganization. We assumed by treaty the obligation to assist the Republic of Haiti in the restoration of order, the organization of an efficient police force, the rehabilitation of its finances, and the development of its natural resources. We have the implied obligation of assisting in building up of a stable self-government. Peace and order have been restored, finances have been largely rehabilitated, a police force is functioning under the leadership of marine officers. The economic development of Haiti has shown extraordinary improvement under this regime. It is marked by highway systems, vocational schools, public health measures. General Russell deserves great credit for these accomplishments.

"We need now a new and definite policy looking forward to the expiration of our treaties."

Note: Brig. Gen. John H. Russell, USMC, was the American High Commissioner to Haiti.

For President Hoover's request for authorization of the Commission, see 1929 volume, Item 305. The joint resolution providing for a study and review of the policies of the United States in Haiti, approved February 6, 1930, is Public Resolution, No. 37 (46 Stat. 63).

Herbert Hoover, Statement on the President's Commission for the Study and Review of Conditions in the Republic of Haiti. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/210887

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