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

No. 1562

Sir: Referring to my despatch No. 1550, of November 12, 1929, I have the honor to report that the committee of Haitian citizens appointed to report on the alleged grievances of the striking students, made its report to President Borno; that after numerous consultations with the committee and with me, President Borno issued an arrete, copy and translation of which is hereto attached. Each department concerned accordingly issued instructions through the press to the striking students to return to their schools to-day, November 21, 1929.

The students of the Ecole Centrale (Damien) were not entirely satisfied with the provisions of the Presidential arrete and after a meeting decided to demand certain changes. This the Government refused to do. Mr. Charles Rouzier, a member of the committee with two sons among the striking students, spoke to the students and informed them that in view of their attitude whereby they had increased their demand, he was entirely out of sympathy with them. Mr. Delva, President of the Communal Commission, and a member of the committee, also spoke to the striking students along the same lines.

This morning President Borno informed me that he intended closing Damien as the students had not returned. I strongly opposed such action and requested that he give the students until Monday, November 25, 1929, to return to their schools, students not returning on that day to be dropped. This he agreed to do. It later appeared that the students of the law school decided to return to their school this afternoon at five o’clock. The students of the Medical School called on [Page 177] Dr. Kent C. Melhorn, stating that they would return on Monday, November 25, 1929, and in consequence the students of that school are registering to-day.

A report is current that the students of the Ecole Centrale (Damien), will send a committee to see Dr. Freeman9 to-day with the intention of making arrangements for the students to return to the school on Monday, November 25, 1929.

In the event that these students do not return on Monday next, I am having Dr. Freeman prepare a plan of reorganization which I have informed President Borno I would present to him. Such plan would contemplate bringing in young men, after examination, from other cities in the rural districts of Haiti and placing them in a dormitory at Damien. At the present time, the Service Technique10 would probably not be able to provide for more than fifty such students but dormitories could shortly be erected and the number gradually increased. Such action would unquestionably solve the problem and the expense to the Government would be very slight, if any, in view of the fact that there would be the saving in transportation which would be augmented by the October and November bourses.

I have [etc.]

John H. Russell

Arrêté Issued by President Borno, November 18, 1929

In view of Article 75 of the Constitution and Article 7 of the Law of February 25, 1924, relative to the Service Technique of Agriculture;

Considering that for the welfare of the students, it is important to put an end to the difficulties that have arisen at the Ecole Centrale of Agriculture while awaiting the arrêté on regulations enforcing Article 7 of the law of February 25, 1924;


Article 1. Sixty-six “bourses” of one hundred seventy-five Gourdes will be distributed each month of the scholastic year to the scholars of the three year course of the Ecole Centrale of Agriculture and six “bourses” of twenty-five Gourdes to the scholars of the preparatory course, having obtained the best reports for the month.

The difference between the budgetary amount and the amount of the “bourses” above indicated, as well as the amount of fines will serve to give special “bourses” for manual work to the students working in the fields and in the shops of Damien.

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Article 2. The students can be fined, as a disciplinary measure, but the total of the fines for a month for a student not to exceed one-fifth of the “bourse”: an interior regulation, approved by the Secretary of State of Agriculture and of Labor, will fix the scale of disciplinary measures.

Article 3. At the end of his studies at the Ecole Centrale, the scholar who will obtain the passing mark will receive a diploma of engineer (Agricultural or Industrial Section), delivered by the University of Haiti on the report of the Secretary of State of Agriculture and of Labor.

This diploma will give to him the right to the first employment available in the Agricultural or Industrial Schools.

Article 4. There is authorized the formation of a committee of students to cooperate with the professors in order to insure good discipline.

Article 5. There will be authorized in legal form the formation of a general association of students.

Article 6. The students of Damien and the other schools are released from all disciplinary measures already taken or which would be taken by virtue of school regulations.

All will be, without distinction, permitted again to take up their studies.

This exceptional measure not to be considered as a precedent, in the future all students being held to a strict observance of the laws and regulations of the institution to which they belong.

Article 7. The present arrete will be published and executed with diligence by the Secretary of State of the Departments of Agriculture and Labor.

  1. Dr. George Freeman, Director of the Service Technique.
  2. See footnote 2, p. 167.