Minister Powell to the Secretary of State.
Port au Prince, Haiti, February 21, 1905.
Sir: I have the honor to state that the government has served a notice for those Syrians who held false naturalization papers to leave the country by the next steamer after they had received the notice from the Interior Department, and if they did not leave at the time stated, the authorities would embark them.
Many of these people received their notices within three days of the departure of the next steamer to New York. It was impossible for them to dispose of their goods in the time named for them to leave. Many of them carried a line of goods valued at from $10,000 to $15,000, for all of which they were indebted to American firms. They appealed to me to intercede in their behalf and to request the government to allow them a sufficient time to dispose of their goods.
This request I deemed a just one and sought an interview with the minister of foreign relations, requesting that his government grant to these people a longer time; that it was impossible for them to liquidate their business within the time granted to them by the government; that they had committed no crime against the laws of the Republic, were peaceable, and if compelled to leave at the time stated by the government, their creditors would no doubt make a demand on the government for the value of the goods that remained unsold, which would possibly give rise to more claims for the government to pay; while if the government would extend the time, this difficulty would be obviated and no claims could be made against the government. The delay asked for would do the government no harm.
I also called the attention of the minister to several articles that had appeared recently in one of the papers, the purpose of the writers to stir the passions of the lower class of people against all this people, to have them pillage their houses, and possibly the loss of many lives might result before the government could control the situation.
I therefore requested the minister to take this matter under consideration and request the editors not to publish these incendiary articles.
Mr. Férère, discussing the matter, said that in the United States and in Europe the government expelled persons who they thought were enemies and that these people were not Americans and they should leave the country.
In reply to this argument I asked him to do this, not referring to their nationality, but simply as a matter of justice and right: that in granting this delay they were only giving these people time to close out.[Page 533]
He then asked: “If we grant this time will they not request a longer time?”
I informed him that I thought not.
He at last informed me that he would use his influence with the President to extend the time three months, and that he would see that these articles did not appear in the paper against these people.
Our interview was pleasant.
I have, etc.,