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868.151/50 : Telegram
The Chargé in France (Whitehouse) to the Secretary of State
Paris, July 20, 1925—11 a. m.
[Received July 20—9:14 a. m.] 389. Your 278, July 18, 2 p. m.? The French Government last week officially but orally informed the Greek Chargé d'Affaires that it consented to the waterworks loan subject to the priority of the Greek share of the Ottoman public debt.
Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs
[WASHINGTON,] September 29, 1925. Mr. James Francis Case, of Ulen and Company, called and said that his only purpose in calling was to express his great appreciation for all that the Department's officials had been able to do for him in connection with his Company's negotiations with the Greek Government. He referred in the highest terms to the invaluable assistance which he had received from Mr. Laughlin and also stated that Mr. Atherton in London and that Mr. Whitehouse in Paris had been most helpful in securing the consent of the British and French Governments to the pledging of security by Greece for the Ulen Company loan.
In describing the present status of the Company's business in Greece, he said that work on the new waterworks for Athens had already been commenced and that they had also signed a supplementary agreement for repairing the present waterworks system, which he hoped would result in doubling the water supply of Athens.
A. W. D[ULLES]
POSTPONEMENT OF LEGISLATIVE ELECTIONS IN HAITI
President Borno to the High Commissioner in Haiti (Russell)?
PORT AU PRINCE, February 11, 1925. MY DEAR GENERAL: I am sending you herewith the confidential memorandum about the legislative elections of which I spoke to you this morning
Your perfect knowledge of the situation will, I hope, prove of decisive use to the Department of State. Very cordially yours,
President Borno to the High Commissioner in Haiti (Russell)
Considering that the time eventually set by the Constitution for legislative elections is near at hand, the Haitian Government deems it imperative to communicate to the Government of the United States the considerations and opinion hereinbelow. expressed, which in its opinion, would if applied insure also in the Republic of Haiti the order and stability needed for its general development and afford an effective guarantee of the continuance of the remarkable results already achieved for the progress and prosperity of the Republic through the frank and loyal cooperation of the two Governments.
The Haitian Government has no hesitancy in declaring that it is sincerely and absolutely convinced that if the legislative Chambers were called at this time the happy state of things that has just been referred to would be really threatened.
* Brought to the Department by the High Commissioner, who had been instructed on Jan. 21, 1925, "to proceed to Washington at such time during the next two months as may be convenient" for conference, and had left Port au Prince on Feb. 12, 1925.
* File translation revised.
Article D of the Haitian Constitution which substituted a mere Legislative Council for the Chambers by adjourning “sine die”, so to speak, any consultation of the people concerning legislative elections, was certainly in the minds of the two Governments to answer a dual objective:
On the one hand, not to entrust assemblies born of elections with the law-making of the country until there was a certainty that the political passions having wholly subsided there was no reason to fear there would be in the Chambers elements of agitation and disturbance apt to offer systematic opposition to the achievement of political, administrative and economic ends concerning which a final agreement had been reached by the two Governments through the Convention of 1915.
On the other hand, only to call upon the voters to exercise their franchise for legislative elections so granted by the Constitution conditionally, when the people would have been sufficiently educated to make it possible to assert that there was a body of voters with a sufficient knowledge of their duties and reasonably prepared for a full unlimited enjoyment of their political rights.
In the opinion of the Haitian Government based on judicious observation, it is proper to acknowledge that neither objective has yet, generally speaking, been wholly attained thus far. On account of the lack of means it has not yet been found possible to develop the education of the people so as to put the great majority of the citizens of cities, and particularly of the country, in possession of the intellectual means required for a conscientious and clear-sighted use or exercise of the franchise.
In this connection an idea may be formed from the city elections which the Constitution of 1918 maintains with the very object of forming an accurate estimate through repeated experiments every two years of the problem of the voting attitude in the country.
These elections have always taken place up to date with a number of voters decidedly below the least optimistic, statistical estimates showing through the anomalous number of voters the slight interest taken as a rule by the Haitian voter in the exercise of his franchise. The voting quorum always was found quite low, so much so that it would be hard to find therein a true expression of the will of the majority of the people whose votes were sought.
The legislative elections, if they were to take place in 1926, would coincide with the renewal of the Presidential term and would be imperilled thereby, a feature of extreme unrest caused by the probable excitement of the people. The opposition, whose only platform
• Foreign Relations, 1918, p. 487.
it might be said is the overthrow of the state of things created by the Convention of 1915, would surely display the greatest activity and bring into play all its resources so as to win a majority in the legislative body and thus bring about the victory of its Presidential candidate. It would find quite an advantage in this undertaking in the indifference of the bulk of the voters hereinabove noted and might very well, thanks to this indifference, gain a privileged, if not prominent situation, in the national Chamber.
The Haitian Government believes that this prospect, resting on a plausible surmise, particularly if a policy of nonintervention in the elections were adopted, must arrest the earnest attention of the two Governments and unite them in the joint concern of warding off the grave consequences which might follow from its being possibly carried out.
Insofar as it is concerned, this Government maintains in this respect the opinion it invariably professed heretofore, namely, that the narrow bounds within which the Convention and the Constitution have hemmed the exercise of legislative power, particularly in their budget and financial clauses, will always make it difficult for political assemblies in position to claim a free electoral investiture and a full execution of the diplomatic instrument of 1915 to work harmoniously. This opinion is the result of the careful examination made into the deep changes introduced in the traditional relations between the executive and legislative powers by the Convention and the Constitutional provisions which are the unavoidable consequences thereof.
The last paragraph of article 55 and article 112 of the Constitution, together with certain provisions of the Convention, particularly those contained in article 9 of the last-named instrument, have as a matter of fact stripped the legislative Chambers of all autonomy in budget and fiscal matters. The initiative in lawmaking, which is granted them by the second paragraph of article 55, is noticeably lessened by the last paragraph under which the initiative as to laws concerning public expenditures is reserved for the executive power, the reason being that laws that do not call for any expenditure are exceedingly rare.
Legislative Chambers won to the spirit of opposition will not patiently put up with the passive attitude forced upon them by these restrictions and it is to be presumed that they will constantly be inclined to seek a compensation in an excessive use of the few prerogatives and powers left them going as far as resorting to obstruction should the case arise. The executive power, defenseless and powerless, would be placed in a situation so created with no other alternative than to abdicate or resort to unlawful means.
The first solution which without question would strengthen the despotic tendencies of the Chambers would sanction in advance, so to speak, anything they might undertake to do hereafter as they might see fit against the President's prerogatives under the cover of the unrest and agitation borne of the Government's unstable conditions.
It may furthermore be safely asserted that if resort were had to violence it would constitute an attempt on legality which would in any event, cause, in Haitian opinion, a disturbance that would be fatal to the real interests of the country.
Upon an impartial examination of the threats that a call of the legislative body at this time would offer to the condition of things created by the Convention, and the friendly cooperation of the two Governments, the Haitian Government is also led to give equal consideration to the advantages and resources that the quorum relative to the deliberations of the two Houses of that body, as provided in the Constitution, would not fail to bring to the opponents of the Presidential regime.
It appears from article 59 of the Constitution that a majority (one more than one-half) for the Chamber is 19 and 9 for the Senate in
very rare cases when the two Houses would sit with all the members present. Taking into account the unavoidable absences and consequently the corresponding lowering of the figure for the majority, it must be granted that there being in the two Houses minorities including from 14 to 17 members in the Chamber of Deputies and 5 to 7 in the Senate would be enough to place the executive power in the most embarrassing situation, stand in the way of all its recommendations and so paralyze the law-making operations.
The Haitian Government in brief believes that all the foregoing considerations are such as to discountenance the recourse to legislative elections because of the certainty of their being attended with disappointment. Taking the best possible aspect of things, in case of legislative actions, it seems to the Government that it would be very difficult even if there was a marked success to secure in the Parliament the majority needed for an effective action against active minorities animated with the spirit of intrigue and ambition.
In the face of all these considerations just set forth by it, the Haitian Government is of the firm opinion that upon sober consideration of the present situation of the Republic of Haiti, it is the part of wisdom and prudence for the two Governments firmly to adhere to the policy that has brought forth so many happy results and which the two Governments have thus far applied.
The Government means by this a condition of things signalized by the preponderant existence of a strong executive power animated by