File No. 838.516/64.
Minister Blanchard to the Secretary of State.
Port au Prince, January 15, 1915.
Sir: In compliance with the Department’s cable instructions of December 31,17 received January 2, regarding interference by the Haitian Government in the affairs of the National Bank of Haiti, [Page 503]this Legation addressed under date of January 5, 1915, a note to the Foreign Office, copy of which is herewith enclosed, together with copy and translation of the note, dated January 12, received in reply.
As you will observe, the Minister of Foreign Relations states that just previous to the time of the receipt of the above-mentioned note from this Legation, the Haitian Government, by reason of its sincere desire to arrive at a final conciliation with the Bank, had suspended all prosecutions against it; and through the good offices of the Department of State had exchanged propositions of agreement.
After enumerating the several points of this Legation’s note of January 5 and before answering the same, the Minister of Foreign Relations declares his reply to be made under the express reserves of the declarations relative to Articles 3 and 24 of the contract of the Bank, made in preceding notes, which articles, as the Department is aware, are the two which establish the identity of the Bank as a French corporation and prohibit all diplomatic intervention.
It will be further observed that after setting forth the functions and identity of the Bank, the Minister of Foreign Relations declares that since certain obligations to the Haitian Government have been created both by its contract and by the laws of Haiti, the Bank for any infraction thereof is amenable to all legal means capable of compelling it to comply with the terms of its contract of concession.
The Minister of Foreign Relations further states that the Government has never intended, and does not intend, “to interfere with the Bank”, and only asks to live in harmony with its Treasury; but that if in the course of proceedings begun, or to be begun, for any violation of the penal code, the Bank, with a view to escaping the consequences of its acts, should close its doors, the Haitian Government will be guided in its action by the terms of the contract binding the parties and by the civil code of Haiti which, being the same as that of France, is consequently the civil code of the Bank, a French corporation.
Regarding that portion of this Legation’s note relative to “the arbitrary conduct of the authorities with regard to foreign interests”, the Minister of Foreign Relations states that he regrets that no specific charge was mentioned, and adds that foreign interests in Haiti are represented by seven legations and a large number of consulates, from none of which has a complaint been received.
On the day after the delivery of the above protest at the Foreign Office, Mr. Williams, the acting manager of the Bank, called at this Legation and stated that there was a very marked change in the attitude of the Government officials toward the Bank; and further stated that every facility had been afforded him to have the money in the different branch offices of the Bank, situated at different towns around the coast, brought to the Bank here at Port au Prince, a measure which he deemed absolutely necessary to enable the Bank to meet the demands for cash which its ordinary transactions required.
Up to the time of this writing the Government has continued in this attitude, and has done nothing further to hinder the operations of the Bank.
I have [etc.]