Reviewed by unnamed reviewer in

NOTE FROM BOB CORBETT   I found this newspaper review pasted on the inside cover of a copy of Blain Niles' 1926 book: BLACK HAITI. Not other note occurred.

The review article itself:

“Occupied Hayti,” presenting in book form the report of a committee of six Americans who visited Hayti, investigated conditions there and favor restoration of full Haytian independence, is be commended for its engaging candor. The committee was appointed by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and its approach to the problems of American occupation and Haytian reconstruction is rigidly political representing acceptance of the extremist implications of the self-determination dogma. But the authors of the book (Emily Greene Balch being the editor as well as the chief contributor) face the facts in Hayti frankly and realistically. They testify to the high-mindedness of the occupation as conducted to-day and to the good will and patience with which the American High Commissioner, Brigadier General John H. Russell, and the American administrative chiefs are laboring to make Hayti recognizable as a civilized state, capable of operating under modest conditions.

Here is the picture -- perfectly lifelike one -- which the book draws. Hayti is thickly populated, with 210 inhabitants to the square mile. But its productive and consumptive capacity is amazingly small. Miss Balch estimates the average value of the products consumed by the peasants at $20 a year per capita. The average laborer’s earnings are 20 cents a day. The value of a house, outside the cities, is from $10 to $25. There is hardly any industry. Productive enterprises undertaken by foreign capital have failed in most cases. There is no agriculture, as we understand it. Plows and wheeled vehicles, carts or barrows are almost unknown. The soil is only tickled. Little more is grown than the people eat. Of the total exports in 1925, valued at $19,400,000, $15,220,000 was in coffee, which grows wild or with little cultivation. The governments revenue comes chiefly from the coffee export tax.

Land cannot be cultivated on a large scale, because most of’ the peasant occupants have no documentary titles. Land is not taxed. It is seldom surveyed. It changes hands informally, without deed transfers. The state is a large land owner, but does not know where its holdings begin or end. The population is chronically under fed, anemic and subject to hookworm and tuberculosis. I shrinks from the idea of agricultural development for three reasons -- its physical debility, its fear that small squatter holdings will be wiped out and its psychological aversion to farm labor, a reaction from the slavery era of 125 years ago. Some of the more ambitious natives go to Cuba to work. But, though they do an economic service by bringing savings home, their example is frowned upon as a breach of Haytian tradition.

Only a small fraction of the population is literate, and what the country needs educationally, from the occupation’s point of view, is instruction like that given at Tuskegee. But the many Haytians protest violently against vocational or agricultural education; they want (those who are capable of education) to stick to the old classical and literary curriculum.

The occupation has not interfered with the courts, which remain under native control. But judicial administration inspires little confidence. It is pretty much what it has always, been. It is a symbol of the old order which the authors of this book would like to see restored.

The building of the Panama Canal, the acquisition of rights for a canal across Nicaragua and our greatly changed position in the Caribbean area compelled the United States to take notice, under the Monroe Doctrine, of conditions of disorder and governmental irresponsibility prevailing in Hayti. The occupation is an effort to lay the foundations of order, economic betterment and financial solvency. It is a measure of self-protection on our part, with benevolent intentions toward the Haytian people. The demand that the occupation cease and full native sovereignty be revived, with an inevitable lapse into the evils of the past, is based on the doctrinaire conviction that the Haytians ought to be allowed to govern themselves, no matter how badly they do it, how much they suffer under the exploitation of a tiny, educated minority and a succession of casual military dictators, and how many occasions for complications with European nations they create. Those who make this plea, however, are honest in foreshadowing its consequences. Seldom has a purely political generalization clashed so spectacularly with political and economic facts.


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