The High Commissioner in Haiti (Russell) to the Secretary of State

No. 48

Sir: I have the honor to report that during the past two months the political situation in Haiti has been greatly aggravated by the attacks made on the President of Haiti by members of the old administration and other members of the existing Government. These [Page 554] attacks have been directed against development work and have been made through the newspapers, speeches and propaganda. …

Unquestionably a bitter feeling has been developed among a certain number of people at Port au Prince and some of the coast towns against President Borno and his official family. The result of this has been the receipt of many anonymous letters by President Borno, members of his Cabinet and members of the Council of State, all threatening their lives. I have received anonymous letters threatening the life of Mr. Borno. At first little or no attention was paid to such letters other than to try and determine by whom they were sent but as time passed well defined rumours of a plot against the life of President Borno have developed.

The attempted shooting of the Mayor of Port-au-Prince, who was unearthing evidences of graft covering a period of many years, together with the strong probability that the man who fired the shot at the Mayor and killed the man standing next to him will probably get off with a light sentence, caused great uneasiness among the Government officials. The probable murder of Mr. Clément Denizé a few days after the attempt on the life of the Mayor, increased this uneasiness. Mr. Denizé was to testify on the following morning before the Judge of Instruction in the communal graft affair now being investigated.

A month or so ago I received a letter from the President of Haiti (copy and translation enclosed)13 regarding the situation, but on talking the matter over with him at that time we decided that the Haitian courts and the new Commissaire du Gouvernement of Port-au-Prince would be able to handle the situation. On August 2nd I received a letter from the President of Haiti (copy and translation enclosed)13 drawing my attention to the seriousness of the political situation and requesting action on my part. After careful thought I decided to issue a proclamation, a copy of which is attached hereto. It is hoped that the mere issuance of this proclamation will be sufficient to clear up the situation but if such is not the case I feel certain that one or two examples will do so.

I have [etc.]

John H. Russell

Proclamation, August 4, 1922, by the High Commissioner in Haiti (Russell)

To All Inhabitants:

It has been brought to my notice that a very active campaign has been inaugurated by certain persons directed against the officials [Page 555] of the Haitian Government and the development work being undertaken by said Government.

Such agitation is a menace to the condition of law and order that now prevails, tends to undermine the authority of the officials of the Haitian Government, and looks to the destruction of the constitutional government, leading to anarchy with the possible consequent destruction of property and life and prolonged misery for the Haitian People.

The United States Forces in Haiti are engaged in aiding and supporting the constitutional government of Haiti and are required by treaty obligations to maintain the tranquility of the Republic.

Your attention is therefore directed to the proclamation of May 26, 192114 and especially to that portion of it which refers to propaganda of an incendiary nature attacking the President of Haiti or officials of the Haitian Government.

John H. Russell
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Post, p. 558.