838.00 Commission of Investigation/96: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Chairman of the President’s Commission ( Forbes )


3. Your No. 7, March 14, and No. 8, March 14, have been considered. The Department has construed, and still continues to construe, the transitory provisions of the Constitution of Haiti as empowering the President of Haiti to determine when an elective assembly should be first constituted. Therefore, the Department has not felt, and does not now feel, that President Borno has violated the Constitution, or that there is in that respect an injury to be redressed. The Department construes the transitory provisions of the Constitution as requiring the President of Haiti, at biennial periods, to consider and determine the question of whether or not he should call an elective assembly. If a new Provisional President should assume the office as the successor to President Borno and should call an elective assembly at a date sooner than January of 1932, the Department would not consider the fact that the date of the election does not fall on such a January as being in itself a reason for not recognizing a President chosen by an assembly so elected, because the Department is of the opinion that it is a permissible construction of the Constitution that the transitory provisions as to elections in January of an even year are only directory upon the President.

We do not desire any public statement made as to the Department’s opinion because we should regard as likewise permissible the other construction of the Constitution of Haiti. We should not, therefore, like the pledge of a compromise President to call an early election to rest in any degree on our opinion; nor do we desire any moral duty to see that a pledge in that regard is carried out. It would appear desirable that the various factions with whom you are negotiating be informed of this position and that it be made clear that while we do not object to it, we do not insist upon it.