File No. 838.51/407.

The National Bank of the Republic of Haiti to the Secretary of State .


Mr. Secretary of State: According to reports published in the press of the United States, the American authorities have taken over the several public services of the Republic of Haiti at Port au Prince and Gape Haitien, in particular the collection of customs duties.

Now the terms of Article 14 of the concession contract of the National Bank of the Republic of Haiti explicitly state the rights and duties of that institution in respect to the collection and distribution of the said duties; it reads as follows:

The Bank will have exclusive charge of the service of the State Treasury both at home and abroad. Under that head it shall receive all moneys due the State when collected and in particular the customs duties on imports and exports. Likewise it shall effect, within the limits set forth in Article 15 hereinbelow, all payments for the account of the State including the service of interest and amortization of the public debt.

The greater part of customs duties have been pledged to holders of foreign and domestic bonds and also to the beneficiaries of certain debts incurred by the Republic in connection with railway, electric lighting, public works and other contracts.

In addition, most of the agreements between the Haitian State and its creditors provide that it will be the Bank’s duty to pay over to those entitled thereto the part of the duties that is their due; for instance, in the case of the 1910 loan, by far the most important, Article 19 says:

During the whole life of the loan the duties hereinabove pledged shall tee directly collected for the account of whom it may concern by the attorney of the National Bank of the Republic of Haiti designated by the Bankers as their representative to that effect.

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Article 4 of the 1912 loan and Article 5 of the 1913 loan, which are identical, provide that:

The National Bank of the Republic of Haiti shall ex-officio credit the bond account with the amount pledged and, also ex-officio, upon a mere notice to the Department of Finance, distribute the proceeds thereof which will be used first for the payment of interest and next for the amortization of the capital.

Under the conditions and for the protection of the interests involved I have the honor to bespeak your high intercession, Mr. Secretary of State, with a view to having the requisite orders issued to turn over to our treasury all moneys collected on customs receipts, in accordance with the contracts and conventions.

Again, permit me to draw your attention to the particularly grave turn for the creditors of the State taken by the situation since the late events that have taken place in Haiti.

There is no longer any government at ports that are not occupied by the forces of the United States; customs duties are collected by the local authorities; since those moneys have ceased being turned over to us in violation of the pledges which I have had the honor to recite to your excellency the said authorities use them as they see fit and avail themselves of them to subsidize revolutionists whose access to power they are interested in favoring.

Such a condition of affairs not only injures the interests of the National Bank of the Republic of Haiti, it also, as I have just had the honor to explain to your excellency, is very harmful to the other creditors of the Haitian State.

I beg [etc.]

Banque Rationale de la République d’Haiti.
Casenave, President.

Memorandum submitted by the National Bank of the Republic of Haiti to the Department of State .

According to the Monitor, the official newspaper of Haiti, there had been received by the Haitian Government, by July 10, 1915:

20 cases of 2–gourde bills, numbered 1 to 20. Cases 1 to 11, and 13 had been opened and submitted for signature, making 1,200,000 gourdes.
There remained in deposit cases 12, and 14 to 20, making 800,000 gourdes.

Notices from Port au Prince dated July 17 announced the shipment to New York of $16,000, representing the cost of 1,000,000 gourdes in 2-gourde bills, which were to be shipped immediately; these same notices stated that the board of supervision of the issue was signing about 40,000 gourdes a day, they being absorbed by the current service and the expenses incident to the revolution.

It is impossible to tell the exact amount of bills placed in circulation. The Monitor of July 14 publishes a notice stating that the bills bearing numbers 35,001 to 35,500 were signed by mistake by another supervisor than the one who should have done it.

Generally speaking, the following procedure was followed:

The cases containing the bills were delivered sealed, just as they arrived, to the board of verification, which inserted in the Monitor a record of receipt of the cases. As fast as the cases were opened for delivery for signature, this board drew up a memorandum of the number of bills found in the open cases. This memorandum was likewise inserted in the Monitor.

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According to the latest information, 1,200,000 gourdes had been submitted for signature.

It would be well for the American Government to take charge of the cases of unsigned bills. Each case should contain 50,000 2-gourde bills.