838.011/10–846: Telegram

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


428. (1) I saw both Foreign Minister and President Estimé yesterday with regard to objectionable articles 7, 8, and 15 of proposed constitution and left with them informal protest in writing based on Dept’s extremely useful instruction 11, October 3. Foreign Minister failed to request US views regarding alternative provisions, but President did, so I furnished him informally and confidentially with memo acompanying Dept’s instruction. Both President and Foreign Minister [Page 926] recognize principle that regulatory details should be omitted from constitution, but I received impression that President is less inclined to act on principle owing to political considerations. He stated frankly that to have article 7 eliminated would mean “battle” because of its popularity with the masses. He said it was his intention to see that final discussion of new constitution by Assembly was postponed month or two in order to permit present agitated atmosphere in that body to subside. He said he could give me no assurances until he had studied documents, but repeated his usual statement that American interests had nothing to fear. I impressed upon him before I left that verbal assurances were hardly enough.

(2) Meanwhile the official Moniteur of September 30 published text of 1932 constitution with first 10 articles of proposed new 1946 constitution included in accordance with decree of August 14, copy of which was transmitted with Embdesp 1653, August 24.52 By virtue of article 14 of decree constitution in effect which presumably means that article 7 and 8 are now, at least provisionally, in force until new 1946 constitution is promulgated. As soon as Moniteur was distributed on October 4 I protested vigorously to Foreign Minister, pointing out that it had been generally understood that publication was not contemplated and I asked for explanation. He replied that my protest was first he had heard of matter, but after his inquiries over telephone it transpired that President himself had ordered promulgation in order to provide necessary legal basis for judicial appointments he wished urgently to make. This explanation was confirmed later by President who emphasized provisional character of published constitution and once more offered assurances that objectionable articles would not be applied in case American interests. American circles here do not seem unduly alarmed by publication.

(3) Expect to see my British and French colleagues and Swiss Consul today regarding above articles as well as article 35 which was also subject of a written informal protest to Foreign Minister by the Embassy.

  1. Not printed.