The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Haiti (Tittmann)

No. 11

Sir: I refer to the Embassy’s telegram no. 411 of September 27 and airgram no. A–335 of September 20, 194639 and to other communications on the subject of the new Haitian Constitution.

[Page 922]

In the telegram it is stated that the Embassy has reiterated a strong informal protest in writing to the Haitian Foreign Office with regard to Article 6 (now 7) and Article 13 (now 15) of the proposed new Constitution. This Government is also concerned over the present wording of Article 8, an Article which was not in the original draft of the Constitution and which was, as the Embassy’s airgram under reference indicates, voted upon only recently.

Since the Constitution as a whole will no doubt be voted upon soon, it is suggested that, unless you perceive objection, you take the occasion at an early date to have frank and definitive discussions with as many of the higher-ranking Haitian officials as you deem necessary, expressing this Government’s deep concern over Articles 7, 8 and 15 of the Constitution. If you consider it advisable, you might leave an aide-mémoire with the Foreign Minister after your discussion with him.

I have noted that President Estimé, Foreign Minister Price-Mars, and others in the present and the interim Governments of Haiti have indicated to Ambassador Wilson and also to you that they realize that United States economic and commercial assistance is absolutely indispensable to the welfare of Haiti. It might be well to remind the Haitian officials that if they and other responsible Haitians desire the continuance of mutually beneficial economic development by United States private enterprise, such enterprise should not be discouraged by discriminations against foreign investors, entrepreneurs and technicians.

Verbal assurances, such as have been given by various Haitian officials, that established United States private enterprises will not be affected by these Articles of the Constitution, are not sufficient since there would be no guarantee that such treatment would be continued if the wording of these Articles remains as it now stands.

This Government feels that the most desirable solution would be the deletion of all provisions of Articles 7, 8 and 15 of the Constitution that discriminate against foreigners. In the case of Article 7 this would mean retaining only the first sentence of the first paragraph and the first sentence of the second paragraph except for the last clause. All of Article 8 and the second sentence of Article 15 would be deleted.

Should the Haitian officials request your views (but only if they request them) regarding alternative provisions, you are authorized to convey informally the ideas set forth in the memorandum transmitted herewith.40

In discussing with the Haitians the matter of the protection of the rights of United States private enterprise in Haiti, you should make clear that this Government is not asking for special favors for its [Page 923] nationals and that it asks only for such treatment as is granted to foreigners in treaties of friendship and commerce between many nations of the world. Such treaties are based upon the principle of mutual advantage, and their provisions accord to nationals of either contracting country the right to engage in commercial, professional, and manufacturing activities and to own property in the territory of the other contracting nation upon the same terms as the nationals of that nation.

This Government, as you know, has taken the initiative in advocating that all countries of the world join in a broad program looking toward the expansion of world trade, employment, and prosperity, as outlined in the “Proposals for Expansion of World Trade and Employment” issued by this Government last November. These Proposals seek “economic cooperation among nations with the object of preventing and removing economic and social maladjustments, of achieving fairness and equity in economic relations between states, and of raising the level of economic well-being among all peoples”. One of the functions of the World Trade Organization, which these Proposals advocate be set up, is the following:

“To make recommendations for international agreements designed to improve the bases of trade and to assure just and equitable treatment for the enterprises, skills and capital brought from one country to another, including agreements on the treatment of foreign nationals and enterprises, on the treatment of commercial travelers, on commercial arbitration, and on the avoidance of double taxation.”

Since the Haitian Government will no doubt send delegates to the proposed International Conference on World Trade and Employment, which has been called by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, at which these Proposals will be considered, it is hoped that Haiti will not incorporate provisions in its Constitution which will make it difficult for its delegates to join with the delegates of other nations in cooperating for the economic betterment of all.

You might also wish to point out that this Government is sincerely hopeful that Haitians will themselves, in the near future, engage to an increasing extent in the economic development of Haiti. One of the broad general purposes of the International Trade Organization of the United Nations, as stated in the draft Charter, is to “encourage and assist the industrial and general economic development of Member countries, particularly of those still in the early stages of industrial development”.

Communications from the Embassy have indicated that the French and British Ministers41 have expressed concern to the Embassy over the Articles of the new Haitian Constitution which discriminate [Page 924] against foreigners. Unless you perceive objection, you should urge that each of them make strong representations to the Haitian authorities pointing out their concern over these Articles and urging that the discriminatory and restrictive features be removed therefrom.

The memorandum of conversation dated September 23, 194642 between an officer of the Department and Mr. Ernst Schneeberger, Second Secretary of the Swiss Legation in Washington, a copy of which was sent to the Embassy, shows that the Swiss Government is concerned principally over Article 6 (now 7) and that the Swiss Consul in Port-au-Prince had been requested by his Government to make a full report. You may, if you have not already done so, wish to get in touch with the Swiss Consul and urge him to express formally or informally his Government’s concern over the Articles of the proposed Constitution which he finds objectionable.

The Embassy will no doubt continue to send the Department copies of the texts and translations of the Articles of the Constitution as they are adopted.43

I should appreciate it if you would keep me informed of the progress of your discussions with the Haitian authorities.

A separate communication is being sent the Embassy44 regarding the Haitian claim to Navassa Island as set forth in Article 1 of the new Constitution.

Very truly yours,

For the Acting Secretary of State:
Spruille Braden
  1. Neither printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Maurice Chayet and Augustus Crosbie Routh, respectively.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Ambassador Tittmann reported in telegram 411, September 27, that the National Assembly had that day voted articles 130 through 150 inclusive of proposed new constitution; also, the Embassy had that day reiterated strong informal protest in writing to the Haitian Foreign Office with regard to articles 6 and 13 (838.011/9–2746).
  6. Airgram 240, October 4, infra.