File No. 738.3915/61.
The Legation of Haiti to the Department of State.
Washington , April 27, 1911 .
Following the partition that took place in 1844 in the Republic of Haiti war prevailed for a long period between the eastern Provinces of Haiti and the central Government. Thirty years were spent in more or less active hostilities before a treaty of peace was concluded in 1874 between the Haitian Government and the new State set up by those Provinces under the name of Dominican Republic.
Article 12 of the treaty provides that “the high contracting parties formally pledge themselves to establish, in the manner most conformable to equity and to the reciprocal interest of the two peoples, the boundary line dividing their present possessions.” This requirement was to be made the object or a special treaty and the two Governments were to appoint their commissioners to that effect as soon as possible.
But the Dominican Government claimed, in 1883, that Article IV of the treaty did not prescribe for the purpose of delimitation the uti possidetis of 1874 when the treaty of peace was signed but rather the uti possidetis of 1856, from which time, in the opinion of the Dominican Government, there was a cessation of the hostilities between the new State and the Republic of Haiti.
The Haitian Government contends and always contended that the uti possidetis of 1874 is that adopted and sanctioned by the treaty of peace for the demarcation of the boundary between the two States inasmuch as the phrase “present possessions” can have no other meaning than that of the possessions held by the two peoples at the time of the signature of the treaty of peace.
In order to avert a conflict and in evidence of the good will and conciliatory spirit by which it was animated, the Haitian Government consented, in 1895, on the reiterated request of the Dominican Government, to refer to the Supreme Pontiff’s arbitration the interpretation of Article IV, to wit, whether the phrase “present possessions” implies, for the purpose of delimination the uti possidetis of 1874 or the status quo post helium of 1856.[Page 163]
An arbitration convention was signed to that effect in 1895 and the plenipotentiaries of the two contracting parties proceeded to Rome to vindicate their claims before the chosen arbitrator, Leo XIII, the Holy Father. In the meanwhile the Pope’s arbitration having been blocked by certain circumstances, the Haitian and Dominican Governments agreed to conclude the convention of 1898 which finally solves the difficulties that had stood in the way of the delimitation between the two states.
From 1899 to 1908 the Dominican Government declined to give effect to those two conventions of 1895 and 1898. And quite recently, much to the Haitian Government’s surprise, the Santo Domingo Cabinet declared in its report to Congress in 1909 that those two conventions are not valid, thus casting doubts on the validity of those diplomatic instruments.
And so, assuming to settle by itself the delimitation of the boundary line, it undertook to open a road across the Pedernales region which undisputably lies within Haitian territory.
The two countries nearly came into a grave armed conflict. Happily, impartial minds, friendly to the two parties involved, saw that the question in dispute, viz, that of the conventions of 1895 and 1898, can be passed upon by the Permanent Court of Arbitration, sitting at The Hague.
But it appears from intimations just received by the Haitian Government from its minister at Santo Domingo that the Dominican Government, although it has accepted the good offices of the Government of the United States of America, hesitates about proceeding with the negotiations for the convention by which the two Governments are to submit to the Permanent Court of The Hague the arbitration of the interlocutory question as to the validity of the disputed conventions.
Such a course on the part of the Dominican Government can not be accounted for. It may be followed by grave consequences to both countries which are compelled to maintain an attitude of expectancy involving unnecessary outlay. Furthermore, another conflict entailing war may at any time take place between them in spite of the good will and conciliatory spirit the Haitian Government has evinced m this important matter.
The Haitian Government would be glad of the Honorable Secretary of State’s cooperation in obtaining from the Dominican Government that the negotiations for an arbitration convention be entered into as soon as possible in Washington.