Mr. Powell to Mr. Hay.

No. 660.]

Sir: I have the honor to reply to Department’s dispatch No. 368, of September 18, 1899, addressed, in my absence, to Dr. J. B. Terres, the vice-consul-general, in reference to the expulsion of certain refugees who had sought shelter in our legation. Dr. Terres, not being conversant with the facts, preferred the dispatch should remain unanswered until my arrival.

From the tenor of this dispatch, I find the Department is laboring under the impression that I have interfered in the execution of certain decrees of the Government and been a factor in assisting it to execute its laws upon its citizens. I therefore state for the information of the Department all the facts connected with the case and my action in the premises.

It is unnecessary for me to renarrate the facts pertaining to the arrest of Mr. Ulrick Divivier; these the Department is in possession of, in dispatches Nos. 613, of August 2, 623, of August 14, and 648, of September 5. On the evening following Mr. Duvivier’s attempted arrest, Mr. Solon Menos, a former minister of foreign affairs, came to our legation, requesting our protection; the same evening Gen. Cicerone François applied; the following day Seneque Pierre, a former senator, made the same request; others applied, but because of our limited quarters we could not grant their requests. These men afterwards [Page 395] applied to the other legations and were received. Mr. Menos received a letter from the President granting to him the liberty to return to his home, guaranteeing the fullest protection.

After these gentlemen had been with us two weeks, a note was received by each of the foreign ministers who had given shelter to these persons, that they must leave the country by first steamer. This note was sent from the foreign office, bearing the signature of Mr. Brutus St. Victor. The French minister immediately called upon Mr. St. Victor, the minister of foreign relations, representing that some of the persons in his legation had not the money to leave the country by the steamer then due. As soon as I received the note from Mr. St. Victor I informed the gentlemen who were with me of the decision of the Government that they would have to leave at the time named. They commenced to make preparation for their departure. On the day they were to sail Mr. St. Victor called with a request from the President that I would retain them a few days longer; at the time he privately stated to me that he did not think they would have to leave the Republic.

After waiting two weeks, and the time nearing when my leave of absence was to take effect, I addressed a note to the foreign secretary in regard to the length of time they were yet to remain with me, stating at the time that if I did not hear from him I should act upon the request as first made and they leave by first opportunity. In reply the foreign minister named a day requesting they leave at that time. A similar note was addressed to the French and German ministers.

As soon as the latter request was received, it was made known to the gentlemen that were with me, and word was conveyed to the agent of the French line to secure passage to Santiago, Cuba. On the day of their departure our deputy consul, Mr. Battiste, at my request, accompanied them to the boat that was to convey them to the steamer, the French minister conveying those at his legation in his carriage to the boat and went with them to the steamer, those at the German legation being sent under the protection of the German minister to the French legation. An hour after the departure of the gentlemen that were with me I left by steamer for New York.

The course that I have pursued in this case has been that which has been followed by my predecessors and by every legation here. I have assumed no responsibility in their embarking, except so far as to have the agent of the company meet them at the legation to procure their tickets, which they could not do themselves. The instruction of the Department was carried into effect as soon as possible.

The Department is unaware of the fact we can not always carry into execution instructions as given. We can request a refugee to leave our premises, but if he refuses to do so, we must either use force to compel him, or else request the Government to assist us to pursue such a course. I am aware the Department would seriously object.

The Government of Haiti has not the impression, the Department thinks, that it is the duty of your representative to participate in the execution of the order of expulsion, nor would I accept such an order from this Government.

Allow me also to state in this connection that the shelter often given to these refugees is at times a great help to the Government itself. Heated passions are allowed to cool, and the Government is able to extricate itself from a serious dilemma, though at the expense of the [Page 396] several legations. This, in fact, was the case of the refugees that were with us. They started for Santiago, but the military authorities refused permission for them to land. They had to return here and left for St. Thomas. After their departure, the Government found the charges made against them to be false. Passports allowing them to return were sent. Some have availed themselves of them and returned; others preferred to remain away.

I have, etc.,

W. F. Powell.