Mr. Gresham to Mr. Smythe.
Washington, November 27, 1893.
Sir: I desire to call your attention to Mr. Durham’s No. 235, of August 28 last, inclosing a copy of a bill pending before the Haitian Chamber of Deputies, proposing to levy taxes which appear to discriminate against foreign residents in the Republic.
The preamble of the bill recites that equity and justice require that the charges of the state should be borne by all inhabitants, without regard to nationality. As an abstract proposition this would justify imposing all business license taxes uniformly on foreigners as well as natives, the character and extent of the business transactions affording an equitable basis for the respective license tax.
If, as appears from the draft bill, the proposal is to levy a personal tax on aliens, in addition to all other business taxes they may pay in common with native Haitians, it departs wholly from the just principle laid down as the motive of the measure, substitutes an inequitable and discriminatory treatment at variance with its declared precepts, and results in discrimination against our citizens. The provisions of Article V specifically prohibit the subjection of the citizens of the United States in Haiti to “any contributions whatever higher or other than those that are or may be paid by native citizens.”[Page 350]
From every point of view, so far as citizens of the United States established in business in Haiti are concerned, the proposed act appears to violate the reciprocal equality of treatment stipulated by international treaty, and should be so dealt with by you in the event that it becomes a law and an attempt is made to apply it to citizens of the United States.
I am, etc.,