Mr. Powell to Mr. Hay.
Port au Prince, June 15, 1904.
Sir: I have the honor to inclose to the Department a copy of the law regarding Syrians, which took effect June 8, and which was passed at the last session of the legislature.
I call Department’s attention to the following Articles: Articles 3, 4, and 5.
We have here in the several cities of the Republic about 200 who claim to be American citizens; there are about 20 who claim to be English citizens, and about 400 who are under the protection of the French Minister, but not French citizens.
There has been a demand on the part of the small Haitian merchants and those who peddle their goods into the interior of the country to the government, that these people should not be allowed to land and those that are here should be expelled; also that they should strictly conform to the laws of the country in regard to commercial matters; that is, they should not sell at retail nor be allowed to sell in the interior by means of peddlers.
The government endeavored for a long time to resist the demand, but finally acceded to the request of their citizens, hence the present law. It is claimed on the part of the Haitians that these people do not spend any money in the country; that as fast as made it was sent abroad, and that it was not the intention of the Haitian Government to give these people the same rights as held by their citizens.
In behalf of the Syrians, those that are naturalized as American citizens and those who are not, they are economical in their mode of living, their daily sustenance costing less than a Haitian’s. They are close buyers and liberal in selling their goods; that is, they will sell to the country people goods on time, receiving from them a certain sum a week, and often before the bill for the goods is paid the article sold is worn out. This manner of selling subjects them to loss. They are also persevering, traversing the mountain districts and visiting every house in the district they happen to be in. This manner of selling has compelled a large number of the Haitian retail merchants to close their stores and retire from business. The same may be said of those who carry their goods on their heads in the country district; these also have been compelled to give up, as the Syrians could undersell them.
It is for the causes named that the present law was enacted. The intention of the framers of the law was to compel these people to leave the country in order that the Haitian merchant and peddler can resume business.
I have, etc.,