838.00/2380: Telegram

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

100. Department’s 63, August 25, 2 p.m. Regarding amendment 5 to article 67, the President is willing to withdraw this amendment.

Regarding amendment 6 to article 72, President Borno states that in the public interest he prefers to withdraw this amendment entirely and leave article 72 as it now is, although he states he is convinced that 4 years is too short a term. He states he fears that under the second sentence of the Department’s text of telegram every one would refuse to be candidate for a short unexpired term as President. This he stated might cause a crisis and invite bold action and the subsequent revision of this [article?] of the Constitution by the successful aggressors. Although I believe that in the President’s mind this remote possibility is a real danger, he admits that such a situation would probably never arise except perhaps in the case of an extremely short unexpired term. The President is reluctant to give up the 6–year term which he states is universally considered as better for Haiti than 4 years with the hope and uncertainty of reelection incident thereto. He states that he is not in favor of a Vice President to fill unexpired term because of ever present friction. In this regard he cites Santo Domingo.

In view of the fact that this is the amendment that is met with most opposition throughout the country because of the fear that President Borno seeks to prolong his present term, the withdrawal of this amendment would very probably remove much of the exaggerated protest which exists against the amendments as a whole.

Regarding amendment 8 to article 89, the President proposes the following text:

“The judicial power is exercised by a Court of Cassation and inferior courts whose number, organization, and jurisdiction shall be regulated by law.

The President of the Republic shall appoint the judges of all the courts. He shall appoint and revoke the prosecuting attorneys assigned to the Court of Cassation and the other courts, as well as the justices of peace and their assistants.

The judges of the Court of Cassation shall be named for 7 years and those of the permanent courts other than those of the justice of peace shall be appointed for 5 years.

A judge once named shall not during his term of office be revoked by the Executive authority. However all judges shall be subject to the provisions of articles 100, 101, 102 of this Constitution and to the disposition of special laws organizing the magistrature.

Judges of Cassation who have served for 25 years of which 8 shall have been on the Court of Assizes, without reprimand or impeachment, [Page 71]may, if they enjoy a good reputation publicly and professionally, be declared eligible for permanent appointment subject to existing pension laws.”

The Department might prefer the following wording for the last paragraph:

“The reappointment of a Judge of Cassation who shall have served as a judge for not less than 25 years, including not less than 8 years as a Judge of Cassation, shall be eligible for life appointment subject to existing laws.”

Regarding amendment 9, the President is willing to withdraw it and retain the text of the existing Constitution. He states that his original reason for proposing this amendment was that the ground it covers in paragraphs 2 and 3 is already covered by articles 29, 35, 39, and 128 of the Constitution.

It appeared therefore that, excepting amendment 8 of article 89, the amendments are now either acceptable to the Department and President Borno or have been withdrawn. Please instruct regarding amendment 8.

Gross