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BILATERAL RELATIONS BETWEEN HAITI AND THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Sept. 24, 1973, 9:03 p.m.

1. WE AGREE FULLY WITH YOUR THOUGHTS ON IMPROVED RELATIONS BETWEEN HAITI AND DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, AS EXPRESSED REFTEL. ON THIS SIDE OF THE BORDER, GENERAL ATMOSPHERE IS DECIDEDLY FAVORABLE TOWARD IMPROVED COMMUNICATIONS AND UNDERSTANDING. HAITIANS IN GENERAL HARBOR LITTLE OR NO HOSTILITY TOWARD THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC; DOMINICAN CULTURAL INFLUENCES ARE FAIRLY STRONG HERE; AND ALL OF OUR CONTACTS, IN THE GOH AND OUT, FAVOR CLOSE AND FRIENDLY RELATIONS WITH THE D.R. MANY HAITIANS ARE AWARE, HOWEVER, OF GENERAL DOMINICAN COOLNESS TOWARD HAITIANS, AND THOSE KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT RELATIONS WITH THE D.R. TEND TO FEEL THAT THE MAIN HANG-UP TO CLOSER RELATIONS ARE ATTITUDES ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FRONTIER. 2. LAST EMBASSY HEARD OF BILATERAL AGREEMENTS ON COMMERCE, PAYMENTS, AND TRANSPORT PROPOSED BY THE D.R., SOME SIX CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 02 PORT A 01667 242147Z MONTHS AGO THEY WERE UNDER STUDY IN GOH BY A SPECIAL COMMITTEE HEADED BY THEN-UNDER SECSTATE FOR FINANCE SERGE FOURCAND. SINCE THAT TIME FOURCAND, ONE OF THE GOH'S MOST COMPETENT ECONOMISTS, HAS BEEN MADE SECSTATE FOR COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY AND GIVEN HEAVY NEW RESPONSIBILITIES. DURING PAST YEAR THERE HAVE ALSO BEEN MAJOR PERSONNEL CHANGES, AMOUNTING TO OUSTER OF MOST HIGH OFFICIALS IN OFFICE WHEN AGREEMENTS WITH D.R. WERE FIRST PROPOSED. OUR IMPRESSION IS THAT GOH HAS NO OBJECTION TO AGREEMENTS WITH THE D.R. IN PRINCIPLE, BUT THAT AGREEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN UNDER ACTIVE STUDY IN RECENT MONTHS OWING TO PERSONNEL CHANGES MENTIONED ABOVE AND PRESS OF OTHER BUSINESS. WITH A COMPETENT NEW ECONOMIC TEAM NOW IN THE SADDLE SINCE CABINET SHAKEUP OF LAST AUGUST, THE TIME NOW MAY WELL BE PROPITIOUS TO RENEW HAITIAN INTEREST IN THE BILATERAL AGREEMENTS. 3. IN VIEW OF THE HISTORY OF STRAINED RELATIONS BETWEEN HAITI AND THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, WE THINK THE TWO SIDES BASICALLY WILL HAVE TO SET THEIR OWN PACE ON NEW BILATERAL INITIATIVES, PERHAPS WITH SOME OCCASIONAL DISCREET ENOURAGEMENT ON OUR PART, AS YOU SUGGEST. IN THIS CONNECTION, IMMINENT ARRIVAL HERE OF NEW DOMINICAN AMBASSADOR VALDEZ HILARIO WOULD APPEAR TO PROVIDE AN EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FOR VALDEZ TO RAISE QUESTION OF STATUS OF THE AGREEMENTS IN HIS INITIAL MEETING(S) WITH PRESIDENT DUVALIER, IF THE DOMINICANS WISH TO DO SO. BRINGING IMPORTANT QUESTIONS TO PERSONAL ATTENTION OF THE PRESIDENT IS SOMETIMES THE BEST WAY TO BREAK THEM LOOSE FROM BUREAUCRATIC INERTIA IN THE GOH. CORCORAN CONFIDENTIAL NNN