838.00/2326: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Haiti (Gross)


32. Under article XIV of the treaty of 1915 with Haiti,3 the Government of the United States undertakes, the necessity arising, to lend efficient aid for the maintenance of a Government in Haiti adequate for the protection of life, property and individual liberty. The constitution is the basis of all stable republican governments. President Borno now proposes 14 amendments to the Constitution of Haiti to become operative in the course of a few months. In a period of over 150 years the United States has made but 19 amendments to its Constitution. Wide, sweeping fundamental changes in the Haitian Constitution such as these proposed might well lead to internal disorders of such a nature as to cause the Government of Haiti to call upon this Government to fulfil the obligation undertaken by it in article XIV of the treaty of 1915. In view of this relation existing between the Governments of Haiti and the United States, the Department is greatly surprised that President Borno should have submitted the proposed amendments to the Haitian Council of State and should have given out the text thereof to the press without having first discussed matter with Department of State and having arrived at a definite understanding with regard to them.

You will call immediately upon President Borno and will inform him of the foregoing, informing him at the same time that while the Department of State is not at this time prepared to state its views upon all the amendments it disapproves emphatically of amendment number 6, and is of the opinion that this proposed change in the Constitution is contrary to the principles of democratic government and is, therefore, a backward step rather than one forward in the development of popular government in Republic of Haiti. You will also say to President Borno that the Department of State hopes that he will give serious consideration to the withdrawal of this amendment and that for the present no other action will be taken on the other amendments. Report by cable immediately.