838.00/2376: Telegram

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

98. The substance of the Department’s telegram 60, August 16, noon was duly communicated to the President. In general his opinions coincide with those of the Department but he stated that most of the changes recommended by the Department would naturally and necessarily be regulated by the laws which will be enacted after the amendments are passed. He added that some of the Department’s suggestions are hardly material which can be included in the text of a constitution.

[Page 67]

We talked at length on the questions still outstanding.

Regarding amendment 5 to article 67, the President hopes the Department will approve of the provision by which legislature interprets the meaning of its own laws. This does not concern the question of constitutionality because constitutionality normally would come before the court after the legislature had explained the meaning of any unclear laws.

Regarding amendment 6 to article 72, the President disagreed with the Department and gave as his reason that if an ad interim President, elected to fill a short unexpired term, were disqualified to succeed himself for one full term, the best candidates would refuse to accept the office and would prefer to be elected for a full term of 6 years. The President asks whether the Department would accept the text of articles 90 and 93 of the Constitution of 1899 [1889] substituting the word six for the word seven. President Borno assured me he would not be a candidate at the next election and that he would engage himself to that effect with the Department. However he feels that a public statement [apparent omission] to that extent, deeming it might precipitate a political realignment which might jeopardize the passage of the amendment next January.

Concerning the Department’s remarks relating to amendment 8 to article 89, President Borno agrees to add provision that a judge once appointed cannot be revoked by the appointing power but will remain in office and not subject to removal or suspension except for reasons and in a manner to be established by law. The laws contemplated will, he assured me, satisfy the Department’s suggestion regarding crime and misconduct in or out of office.

Regarding amendment 9 to article 107, the President [desired?] that the words “tenth of January” be substituted for the words “on the dates”.

Regarding amendment 11 to article 118, President Borno explained the desire to carry out this apparently useless amendment in order to dignify career in the gendarmerie and change the unpopular French word “gendarmerie” to something like National Guard, Republican Guard, or simply Guard, because, he stated, the better Haitians have an aversion to associating themselves with a gendarmerie and become gendarmes thereby.

Regarding suppression of article 99, the President again mentioned that in France, which is a unitary country like Haiti, the Legislature decides constitutionality of laws, sometimes however asking the advice of the jurists. The President repeats that no comparison exists between the well disciplined United States and the amateur judiciary in Haiti. He is reluctant to retain this article and desires to draw the attention of the Department once again to his reasons for its suppression or modification.

[Page 68]

In concluding the President asked that I hand him at an early date a definite list of the amendments approved by the Department in view of the approaching opening of the Council of State 10 days from now.

In this regard it is my present understanding that the following amendments are acceptable or at least not unacceptable to the Department in their present form and without changes other than those discussed telegraphically since June 15th last: Amendments to articles 2, 16, 19, 36, 37, 85, 89, 109, 118, and article E of the Constitution as well as the suppression of articles 90, 91, 92, 93, 95, 104, 105, 106, 119 and the last paragraph of article 77. It is likewise my present understanding that the amendments proposed to the following articles are not yet finally approved or disapproved by the Department: Articles 67, 72, 89, 107 and the suppression of article 99.

Please confirm the above and instruct at the earliest possible date.