838.00 Commission of Investigation/132,138: Telegram

The Chairman of the President’s Commission for the Study and Review of Conditions in the Republic of Haiti ( Forbes ) to President Hoover


1. The Commission finds the situation in Haiti critical and the people greatly inflamed. Representatives of large groups of people organized in various patriotic leagues have appeared in public sessions and without exception have stated that they would not accept any election of President by the Council of State. The Council of State is an appointive body which has acted as a legislature in Haiti for about twelve years and which has elected and reelected President Louis Borno. The demand which has been made by practically all those who have appeared, and supported as advisable by the Archbishop speaking for the Church, is for the restoration of representative government by a legislature elected by the people and their choice of a President. This, they state, is the only way that can satisfy the popular demand; that any other course will not be accepted by the people and will be opposed by acts of violence.

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Quoting marine officers, the observations of High Commissioner Russell himself and General Frank E. Evans, representing the National Guard, which is the Haitian police force, all agree that the situation is tense and likely to result in bloodshed, and in the present state of the public mind some small incident may precipitate serious consequences.

With the approval of High Commissioner Russell, the Commission has convened a group of five leaders representing the various patriotic leagues, and represented to the Commission as likely to be able to control the situation, and at the Commission’s suggestion they have issued a statement calculated to calm the public mind.

After considerable discussion it was suggested to them that a compromise candidate for the Presidency might be found, some person wholly out of politics, neutral and satisfactory to both sides, and willing to accept the election as President until a duly elected body can be convened.

On the one hand, the objection of representatives of the patriotic leagues, that the public and they would not recognize the election by the Council of State, has been met by {heir proposal to convene delegates from the country at large who will endorse and select the candidate agreed upon. On the other hand, after this has been done, the plan is for President Borno to secure the election of the compromise candidate by the Council of State. The new President is to agree to call the election of the two chambers of the legislature as soon as possible and then present his resignation, permitting the National Assembly to elect the new President. High Commissioner Russell has fully endorsed this program and he believes that President Borno will accept it. The five representatives with whom the Commission has talked are confident that they can find the necessary candidate acceptable to both sides and to the general public. This plan contemplates that only the candidate designated by the plan outlined above and elected by the Council of State should be recognized by the Government of the United States as President with the understanding that the plan will be carried out in its entirety.

In trying to effect a compromise which will satisfy the popular demand and at the same time comply with the provisions of the constitution with regard to the election of a President, the Commission has made it clear to the five representatives with whom it has discussed the matter that it was acting entirely unofficially. The Commission understands that High Commissioner Russell approved and is telegraphing the Department of State to this effect.

If you approve this plan, the Commission would appreciate a reply at the earliest moment because of the danger of premature publicity which is imminent. The time is very short because the leaders desire to submit and receive from the public assemblies throughout the [Page 200] Republic of Haiti the endorsement and approval of the compromise candidate before April 14.

On Sunday morning, March 9, the Commission will leave for a tour of the Republic, but arrangements have been made to receive your reply promptly.