838.00 Elections/11: Telegram

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

45. Department’s 40, March 21, 1 p.m.23 The instructions contained in the above reference have been carried out.

This morning I learned that President Borno had telegraphed the prefects as follows:

“That the assembly of the Opposition groups which met at the Capital on the 20th of March, 1930, had violated the Hoover plan in electing a temporary President of the Republic in place of simply confirming the choice that President Borno made of Mr. Eugene Roy as neutral candidate for the Presidency. The Government considers his election as null and void. Mr. Eugene Roy, then, has no other political quality before the Council of State on April 14th next than that of candidate to the Presidency. The Government will firmly maintain respect for the Constitution. Make this known in all your jurisdictions and make report to me.”

I at once interviewed President Borno who stated that it is generally believed throughout the country that a Provisional Government is in power and that his action was solely to counteract such propaganda. He then showed me a declaration made by Mr. Rigal to the doyen of the Court of First Instance at Port-au-Prince which in paragraph 1 opposed the judgment of the court against his client, said judgment being given by default and in view of Mr. Rigal’s absence. In paragraph 2 he states as follows:

“A Commission, named by the President of the United States, has sat at Port-au-Prince and has proclaimed by its action the Constitution of 1918 is nonexistent, that the Borno–Russell regime constitutes a dictatorship and that the country is living under the rule of martial law. Under these conditions and before the reestablishment of legal order the courts have for their duty to refrain from judging in civil cases except if the two parties are present, in which case they will be [deemed?] to have given their mandate. That Mr. Rigal, administrator delegate of the Patriotic Union and President of the Federative Committee of the Patriotic Groups of Haiti, defend the cause of the country, maintaining that the people had voted neither the constitution nor the organic laws of the courts which the dictatorship wished to place under the dependency of the executive power by suppressing the feature of irremovability.”

President Borno again assured me of his earnest desire to see the plan carried out and stated that if Mr. Roy would refrain from making any declaration, he is certain that there may be no difficulty in having [Page 217] the Council of State elect him. On the other hand if Mr. Roy makes any statement between now and April 14th which obligates him to violate the Constitution there may be considerable difficulty in obtaining his election by the Council of State. I have requested Mr. Roy to refrain from making any such statement.

  1. Apparently an error for Department’s 30, March 22, 5 p.m.