File No. 838.111/121.
The American Minister to the Secretary of State.
Port au Prince, April 10, 1913.
Sir: In reply to the Department’s No. 373 of March 17, 1913, I have the honor to inform the Department that I have recently talked with President Tancréde Auguste as to his attitude towards such persons of Syrian origin as are still in Haiti and I tried to draw from him a statement as to his attitude but evade [he evaded] making a direct reply. Pie finally said, with a smile, that I should only be interested in those of American nationality and they would be allowed to remain. He requested me to take his word for it that “all Syrians are bad,” to which I replied, “No more so than all Haitians.”
It seems that the President is very much prejudiced against those of Syrian origin and would welcome any plan whereby he could get rid of them. In my opinion this prejudice has been created as a result of the information furnished to him by various persons who state that practically all of those of Syrian origin who are in Haiti have combined with those who were expelled from Haiti and aiding abetting [sic] those Haitians in exile who seek to overthrow the present administration.
As a result of the attitude of the Haitian Government towards those of Syrian origin, many who have become Haitian citizens and have even performed military service are leaving Haiti as soon as they can arrange their affairs, preferring to leave rather than to stay and be from time to time harassed and even thrown in prison on trumped-up charges of being implicated in revolutionary movements. Being of Haitian nationality they have no rights which the Government is bound to respect.
As to nationals of Syrian origin who through the intervention of their legations have licenses to do business in Haiti, it is my impression that if their governments take a strong stand and inform the Haitian Government they will be protected, they will not be molested. Otherwise, the tendency is to harass and annoy them so that they, too, will leave of their own will, or [for] the Government pretends to have evidence implicating them in revolutionary movements and expel them.[Page 580]
Mr. Theodore Baker, the resident agent of Swift & Company, keeps in touch with the Syrian question and frequently calls at this Legation for information and advice. As I have found him to be a careful and discreet man, I am sure that whatever information he gives his firm can be relied upon by it.
I have [etc.]