File No. 838.77/169
Reply of the National Railroad Company of Haiti to the memorandum of Minister Ménos 6 in answer to the company’s memorandum
[Left at the Department by Mr. Farnham January 15, 1917]
Preamble: Minister Ménos is mistaken in his assertion that the grievances alleged by the Compagnie Nationale des Chemins de Fer d’ Haiti against the Haitian Government are “made to order” and that it is “only when the company is alleged to be at fault and tries to evade impending or deserved forfeiture that it brings them to light and asserts its ingenuity in dressing them up to a certain extent”.
Against this unjustified and unsupported assertion by the Minister, the company is in a position to present satisfactory evidence that each one of the grievances referred to in its memorandum were, in proper time, notified to, or brought to the attention of the Government of Haiti with request for redress.
The Government officials instead of rendering assistance or relief, oftentimes tried to make an argument; in some cases they stated their intention to give satisfaction to the complaints of the company or remedy to its grievances, but anyone reasonably minded will find out, by referring to the documents presented, that action hardly ever followed the promises made or the assurances of good will alleged by the Government.[Page 815]
The Haitian officials have never been able to grasp the real conditions, or the principles underlying this sort of concession of public utilities, which may be summed up as follows:—
The Government being in need of a railroad which, for reasons known to it, it does not care to build and operate by its own means and by its own officials, grants a concession therefor to some party or company in a position financially and technically to carry on the construction and the exploitation thereof under conditions determined in advance. Therefore, such concessionnaire is acting really in lieu and place of the Government and has a sort of delegation of the State’s powers (right to expropriate private land and take possession of all public lands needed; exemption from all taxes, dues, etc., right to collect tolls for the use of the road, etc.) and this can be the only reason why the Government stipulates in favor of the concessionnaire all the exemptions and facilities provided for in the acts of concession.
One can readily understand that, if the Government imported rails, machines, fodder for its animals, supplies necessary for the lodging and boarding of the men employed and for the protection of their health, the State certainly would not pay any of the said duties, taxes, etc. In other words, all the facilities and privileges which the Government would itself enjoy if it was carrying on the construction of the railroad, are granted to the concessionnaire who is acting in its place.
The whole force and power of the State should rightly stand behind the party undertaking the establishment of that public utility, ready to protect said party and to remove all obstacles and to grant all facilities in order to secure the proper fulfilment of the conditions of the concession, just as if the Government were carrying on the work through its own officials and by its own direct financial means. All of this the Government officials have failed to understand and to such failure to comprehend is due their shortcomings or failure to grant to the company proper protection, real good will or, as they qualify it, “benevolence”.
With the foregoing observations in mind, answer will now be made to the remarks of Minister Ménos in the order they are found in his memorandum in reply to that of the railroad company.
1. The destruction of the company’s property in July and August 1911 was immediately brought to the attention of the Department of Public Works. The company, in its letter of the 29th of August, 1911, did not present a specific claim for damages, but did point out that not only all work had been stopped, but that the surveying parties and working gangs had been disorganized and dispersed in all places where the company’s work was being carried out in the north and the Artibonite.
However, by its letter of July 25, 1911, confirmed by another letter of August 28, 1911, the company states that,—
Material belonging to this company has been destroyed amongst which is the sawmill established for the preparation of ties and all the timber necessary for the works. Construction gangs have been dispersed, the men chased away; other acts of brutality and oppression committed which are too long to be enumerated here. Under these circumstances this company is obliged to notify to you said cases of force majeure which paralyze the execution of the works for a period which, at this time, cannot yet be determined. The company, therefore, makes all reserves for the prejudices caused to it and which may yet be caused thereby to the company.
By its letter of April 4, 1912, addressed to the Department of Public Works, the company again pointed out that the contractor building the railroad “had been forced to reorganize its personnel and replace the material destroyed or taken away”. The company did not go into any further details about the destruction of its property in those letters simply because it was not then considered proper to mix this matter with the claim for extension of time rendered necessary by evident cases of force majeure.
Mr. Ménos charges the company with having varied in its statement of the manifestation of the revolutionists of 1911 against the railroad and Americans. He says that it was stated before that the cries were “Down with McDonald” and now they are presented as “Down with the Railroad”, etc. Mr. Ménos seems ignorant of the fact that up to this date, nobody in Haiti refers to the railroad otherwise than as “McDonald’s Railroad”. Even to this day “McDonald’s station” is the only designation given by everyone (people, Government and American officials) to the railroad terminal station at Port au Prince, simply because it was Mr. McDonald who negotiated with the Simon Government the amendments to the original railroad contracts at the same time as he was negotiating his banana concession stipulating large grants of public land. This banana contract proved so unpopular with the lower classes of people, that both railroad and banana contracts were used by the leaders of the revolution of 1911 to incite the people of the north against the Simon Government. McDonald’s name which was publicly identified with both railroad and banana concessions, was used by the leaders of the revolutionary movement to signify the taking away from the people of their land and property rights, and the antagonism to McDonald and his railroad enterprise thus aroused, continued acutely for more than two years after the revolution of 1911.
Mr. Ménos, however, admits that the company’s lawyers in Port au Prince did, in fact, present a claim to the Haitian Government on October 12, 1914 for the property taken away or destroyed. What has the Government done since about that claim?
Mr. Ménos’ memorandum states that in July 1911 the company had only just begun construction of the Cape Grande Riviere section; that “there were only a few rails dumped down right and left by the roadside without any ties to support the rails”; this assertion is in contradiction with facts. Mr. Ménos repeats an oft told argument that the permission to import 50,000 ties at that time was a great favor made by the Government to the company. This argument cannot be supported because, in fact, at the time the company requested said authorization, it was proven beyond any doubt that the efforts of the company to obtain a proper supply of ties from all parts of the north had reached a point where the company was assured of obtaining the necessary supply of ties for the construction of the railroad. But all the efforts so made by the company were baffled by the revolution which destroyed entirely the company’s tie organization; and its sawmills.
Moreover the company’s request for authorization to import these 50,000 ties was really determined by the expressed desire of President Leconte to have the railroad reach Grande Riviere in time to haul the coffee crop, then coming in to the port of Cape Haitien, and that was not possible if the company had to wait for a supply of native [Page 817] ties under the conditions above referred to. Such were the reasons that caused the company to request the authorization to import 50,000 ties.
An illustration of the tendency of officials of Government of Haiti to regard as a favor every compliance with its contract obligations is found in that paragraph of Mr. Ménos’ memorandum (which is a repetition of one of the then Minister of Public Works, Mr. Laroche’s letters to the company) where it is said that the second revolution of 1911 having only lasted one month, the Government did a great favor to the company by granting an extension of time of four months.
Let it be noted, however, that the Government of Haiti admits that, whether as favors or not, extensions of time on account of force majeure amounting to eleven months were granted to the company up to April 1912. Now the date of promulgation of the concession being August 5, 1910, this extended period of eleven months makes July 5, 1916 the date on which the five year period stipulated for the completion of all the lines of railroad by the Agreement of April 16, 1910 would have expired if no other circumstances of force majeure had occurred between April 1912 and September 1914 at which time the Government notified its preliminaries to the foreclosure proceedings.
During all the year 1912, however, the company was subjected to immense loss of time and of overhead expenses, at various periods on account of the failure of the Government to carry out in proper time, the expropriation proceedings in respect of right of way. This is evidenced by various letters presented herewith. In one instance the Government took eight months, from June 1912 to January 1913, to permit the company to take possession of a parcel of land absolutely necessary for the right of way at Laboderie, Section I (refer to company’s letter of January 6, 1913 making reserves therefor).
2. The company might have no objection to Mr. Ménos’ opinion that “this exemption (of customs duties, taxes, etc.) constituting a privilege or a derogation from the common law ought, like all other exceptional provisions, to be interpreted strictly and not beyond its terms”. The company simply contends that its claim for exemption is within the meaning of the provisions of its concession and that any interpretation to be made of this provision, in case there were any doubt as to the meaning, must be made in favor of the company and against the Government, it being the party granting the privilege. The company further contends and has always contended that the supply of food, drugs, camp equipment at the company’s expense, to the men employed on surveying parties and construction camps as well as fodder, horse shoes and nails, medicines, etc., needed for the maintenance and care of the animals used for the company’s surveys and construction work, was as necessary “for the construction and maintenance of the railroad” as anything else employed for such purpose and is in accordance with the best practice of railroad construction.
The company’s position is supported by the opinion of Mr. J. N. Leger, former Dean of the Bar and former Minister of Haiti at Washington, and Mr. Justin Devot, former professor in the Law School at Port au Prince, and now a judge of the Supreme Court of Haiti, two of the most eminent lawyers of Haiti, and such also was [Page 818] the opinion of the Government of Haiti until the commencement of Mr. Leconte’s administration in August 1911 (refer to opinions annexed hereto).
Mr. Ménos is again mistaken or misinformed in stating that since the company was invited on June 21, 1912 to amicably draw up a list of articles which might enjoy customs exemption, there was no further demand for the exemption of victuals, etc., etc.
The company, in September 1911, did all it could to have the Minister of Public Works discuss the matter, failing which, the question was brought to the attention of the President of Haiti and of the Council of Secretaries of State, but all in vain as is evidenced by the despatches No. 39 of September 14, 1911 and No. 76 of October 14, 1911. The Department of Public Works, nevertheless, admitted by its despatch No. 64 of September 29, 1911 the company’s right to import fodder, etc., for the animals, but wanted the company to fix in advance a limit to the quantity of those articles to be imported, a procedure which the company could not accept, as is shown by its letter of October 10, 1911, which clears up the question of fodder for the animals.
But, by a letter of October 23, 1911, the company again took up the matter with the Government in confirmation of a verbal discussion, and a list was submitted of the articles to be imported free of duty but no satisfactory answer nor solution having been given to the demand of the company, the matter was dropped. As further efforts in this direction seemed useless the company thereafter made payments of duties, taxes, etc., in each instance under protest. The Government on the other hand even went so far as to collect a visa tax of 1% on the amount of invoices for exempted material.
The tonnage tax, contrary to Mr. Ménos’ statement, is not in Haiti a tax on the body of the vessel but is a customs tax on the weight of the goods landed by the ship and is collected from the shippers by the steamship company, which in turn pays it to the Government on the total tonnage of the ship’s manifest. While this tax originally was a tax on the ship’s body it has long since ceased to be so; this is the positive opinion of the best lawyers in Haiti and was also the opinion of the Government up to the time Mr. Leconte came to office.
The company never requested that the “Government of Haiti take responsibility for the conditions of the tariff of navigation lines,” but it has very rightly asked that the Government of Haiti, by such administrative channels as are usual, give exemption of all the material, supplies, etc., imported by the company “for the construction, maintenance and operation of the railroad” from the payment of all duties, taxes, etc., collected at the various customhouses of the Republic. This request is in accordance with the provisions of its concession, which provisions the Government of Haiti fully observed during the early beginning of the execution of the concession, but later on has fully disregarded. The company herewith reiterates its demand for the reimbursement of all such duties and taxes collected on the company’s imports.
3. “The Haitian Government has always furnished the most ample protection to the company.” If such protection merely consisted in writing letters and issuing orders to the petty officials, etc., there might be some consistency in Mr. Ménos’ statement; but the company is in a position to show voluminous evidence that the Government [Page 819] never, at any time, has taken active steps to insure such protection to the company personnel and property. The laborers have more or less constantly, at any rate periodically, been dragged away, recruited, chased from the company’s camps on various pretexts; they have been subjected to all sorts of hardships and limitations on the pretext of applying existing laws which were never so much remembered as when they referred to the railroad company, its personnel or its property; all sorts of hindrances, limitations, delays and losses have been in such ways caused to the company. The documents in evidence of this assertion are much too numerous to be referred to in detail here, but they can be presented in support hereof.
The story of “recall of one of the most devoted lieutenants of President Leconte” has been often presented as the most positive evidence of the Government’s good will and desire to afford protection to the company. Documents in possession of the company show, however, that this “devoted lieutenant” had been so openly active against the company, and his interference in matters outside of the province of his duties were of such character,—all of which was admitted,—that there was no other course open to the Government but to dismiss him at the time.
Mr. Ménos’ statement that the Government exempted the company’s workmen and other Haitian employees from military service is in flagrant contradiction with all the actual facts and documents presented in support of this company’s statement of its troubles in this respect.
Mr. Ménos refers often to the company’s failure to present any verifying documents, affidavit or evidence in support of its grievances. The company’s correspondence with the Department of Public Works is evidence enough that such facts as are alleged by the company were properly notified to the Government of Haiti in due time, and as to the destruction of its fences, this can be seen and ascertained up to this date throughout the entire length of the 176 kilometers of railroad in operation. The company did not resort to the Justice of the Peace to make affidavits, because the grievances complained of by the company generally occurred in time of revolution when no Justice of the Peace could be found or would answer to a call, at the various places where the trouble occurred. Moreover, the company knows by experience that there is no real value in such affidavits which can be made to say anything for or against the company at the request of anyone.
Furthermore, the grievances about which the company has complained or is claiming redress for, have, in most instances, been the act of Government officials, or of Government forces, or of revolutionary forces which, in time, became Government forces, and it was hardly to be expected that the Justice of the Peace, who is a Government official, dismissible at will, would make an affidavit against his Government.
The other assertions made in this part of Mr. Ménos’ memorandum are open to the same criticisms of contradiction with absolute fact, evidenced by documents.
The company was at one time charged with causing frequent but short interruptions of the Government telegraphic line between Port au Prince, Gonaives and Cape Haiti. These were due to the fact [Page 820] that such lines were built on the public highways or near the company’s right of way where trees were being cut down and explosives used for blasting; such lines already were in very bad condition and subjected to frequent interruptions more than half the time, and therefore it was next to impossible not to cause minor interruptions, about which the Government officials made much trouble. The company desires to state and can prove that at those very times, it was paying important sums of money weekly to the Government telegraph officials to provide for linemen and inspectors to be present on the spot, ready to make any repairs necessary. This is supported by the company’s correspondence with the Department of Public Works and with the director of the Government telegraphs.
Mr. Ménos charges the company with obstructing public highways when everyone knows that the railroad is built on private right of way acquired and paid for by the company from beginning to end of each one of its lines, and that it is only in some very few places that the track crosses the public highways. Of course the building of the railroad caused some little obstruction in some of those places but this was only temporary.
Mr. Ménos further charges the company with the responsibility of the disorders in the work yards, wounding and murders, etc., etc., alleged to have been committed by the company’s employees. It must be said, however, that the Government of Haiti having refused to grant to the company the authorization to organize a proper police force of its own for maintenance of order in its construction camps and the safeguarding of its track, and the Government being on the other hand, under the provision of the railroad contract, obliged to give to the company full protection for its employees, property, etc., has entirely failed to comply with this obligation.
4. Various and serious delays caused to the company by the Haitian Government’s direct acts or manifest failure to comply with contract obligations cannot be denied.
Mr. Ménos, in his memorandum, indulges in a review of the difficulties which the first organizers of the original company had with the Haitian Government about the execution of the first section of the Gonaives-Hinche Railroad. The Government of Haiti well understands that the company’s past history and doings up to the time of the amended contract of April 16, 1910, have nothing whatever to do with the new situation at that date created, and with the new parties brought into the company’s operation by said amended agreement; therefore the present company will not make any reply to, or consider any argument or reference made to circumstances prior to the agreement of April 16, 1910, as this agreement included complete disposition of all matters arising prior thereto.
Delays or extensions of time have never been requested from the Government of Haiti by the company, by reason of circumstances chargeable to its own fault, but as arising from circumstances chargeable directly to the Government of Haiti; in other words, as cases of force majeure, entailing upon the company the impossibility of carrying out in the stipulated period some of its obligations, and all such requests have been so admitted by the Government; therefore it seems useless to enter into any further discussion about this matter. This much, however, the company will say. It does not in any degree consider that, under the circumstances explained, invoked or [Page 821] notified from time to time to the Government of Haiti by the company, it was at any of said time liable to any penalty from which it “has benevolently been relieved by the Government of Haiti coining to its rescue”. That is beyond any question.
Mr. Merios’ memorandum makes much reference to the alleged fact that the sections of railroad presented to the Government for acceptation have been all uncompleted, and presents as evidence thereof the fact that such sections were accepted “benevolently with the obligations being assumed by the company to execute certain works of completion recognized as immediately necessary, etc”. This statement can only be made in ignorance of the correspondence exchanged, or through a denial of the facts prevailing at the time of the acceptation of said sections.
Such discussion has arisen because of the difference of views between the company’s engineers (having large experience in railroad construction and equipment and especially in view of the contract stipulations and traffic conditions which are met in Haiti) and the various Government commissions (made up in the majority, in each instance, of openly hostile members, or of utterly incompetent officials who were not even engineers) as to what is in fact “an entirely completed and equipped railroad” built to provide for such traffic conditions as existed or can reasonably be expected to exist in Haiti.
The Government officials have rarely been able to understand that a newly constructed railroad, especially a new roadbed, notwithstanding all the care and money spent on it, never has the stability nor appearance of an old track, and that, however careful engineers may be in constructing a railroad in a country where no data is available; where the country has never been surveyed; no records kept; and no attention paid by the Government officials to the régime of rivers which often change their course after every heavy rainfall, defects in construction will sometimes develop which only can be corrected or remedied after occurrence. The Government officials have often had a tendency to argue that the commissioners sent to inspect were more competent than the engineers of the company who supervised the construction, and who usually were bent on imposing on the company, works which should properly have been executed by the Government at its own expense. This resulted in criticisms and discussions attending the acceptation of each of the sections presented for operation.
The company has finally been obliged to accept the conditions imposed or requested by the Government commissioners in order to not further delay the acceptation of completed sections. It may be interesting to review the correspondence exchanged concerning the various sections so accepted, especially Mr. Doret’s report to which reference is made by Mr. Ménos. (Said documents are presented herewith for reference.)
Mr. Ménos contends that the “company,—in which are interested the National City Bank of New York, the National City Company of New York, W. R. Grace & Co., etc. etc.,—could not have been embarrassed by the delayed delivery of the $2,000,000 of bonds for Sections 1, 2 and 3”. The Minister apparently desires to convey the idea that the company being possessed of such strong financial backing, could not be embarrassed by any default of, the Government of Haiti in carrying out its obligations as to the delivery of bonds and [Page 822] the payment of guarantee of interest. Mr. Ménos seems not to perceive that, if the company really had such strong financial backing, the alleged nonexecution of the obligation to build certain sections of line must then arise from another cause, and certainly no other cause could be imagined therefor than what the company contends; that is, lack of security for capital invested; the perpetual state of revolution or other troubles of the country preventing the physical construction of the line; safety for the company’s employees in the different parts of the country where the railroad was to be built; unjustified delays in everything where application had to be made to the Government or for which the company had to depend on facilities or protection due by the Government officials.
It is proper to call attention to the fact that Mr. Ménos is misinformed in respect of those who he says are interested in the National Railroad Company of Haiti. The latter repeatedly has explained but it may be well to repeat it again, that The National City Bank of New York never had any participation or interest in the National Railroad Company of Haiti or any other railroad construction or development proposition in Haiti. W. R. Grace & Co., of New York organized a syndicate to finance a part of the construction of this railroad, and to this syndicate one or two of the officers of the bank, strictly as individuals and as a private matter, subscribed to a small amount of the undertaking. This is the nearest approach to any connection of the National City Bank with the railroad affair.
The question of the date of August 1, 1913 for which Mr. Ménos charges the company of “wilfully trying to create a confusion” is due to an error of the typist, as the date to which the company only could have referred, consistent with the records, is February 1, 1914, and not August 1, 1913. The former is the real interest date on which occurred the first failure of the Government to pay on time the coupon due. The company contends that the delay in the delivery of the bonds relating to Sections 1, 2 and 3, coupled with the failure to pay on time the coupon due on February 1, 1914 caused the construction work on Section 4 and the surveys on the other sections to be stopped in April 1914 and not as was said, in September 1913. This is evidenced by the engineers’ reports and statement of expenditures presented herewith. However, construction work was continued by the company on the extensions of Sections 1 and 3 up to June 1914. The mistake on the real dates is furthermore made evident by the fact that Section 14, from Grande Riviere to Bahon, was under construction up to November 1913, and was not accepted until December 5, 1913.
Mr. Ménos refers next to the “inability of the company to perform the obligations devolving upon it and particularly Article XI of the contract of April 16, 1910”. It already has been pointed out that Mr. Ménos pretends that the company’s financial backing was such that it could not suffer any embarrassment from the failure of the Haitian Government to fulfill its most solemn and most important obligations which were calculated to offer inducement for the investment of capital in the railroad and a positive guarantee for the remuneration of said capital. Mr. Ménos cannot be ignorant of the primary conditions required for the investment of capital anywhere in the world and by all financial organizations making appeal to public credit; but, admitting the company had the financial means [Page 823] to carry out its obligations, what then prevented it from so doing and forced it to “put up a bluff” as Mr. Ménos does not hesitate to qualify the action of the company in notifying to the Government the circumstances which forced it to stop everything in the presence of what was undoubtedly the most positive and unjustified threat to foreclose its concession; a most arbitrary act of the Government of Haiti.
Mr. Ménos gives here another evidence of the strange state of mind of the Haitian officials by referring to the “benevolence of the Government which so frequently saved the company”. Strange benevolence indeed when one goes over the long train of hardships and grievances and defaults and delays which the company has had to suffer and to submit to so long!
5. The company must decline to enter into any discussion with Minister Ménos further in respect of the obligation of the Haitian Government to pay the interest and sinking fund charges on the bonds issued by the railroad company as provided for in the contract of concession and under the direct authorization of the Haitian Government. The guarantee of the Haitian Government inscribed upon each bond speaks for itself. This guarantee promises to pay both the interest and sinking fund charges on the various dates on which they shall become due. There is no vagueness in this guarantee and no room for discussion of its intent or meaning.
6. The company, having gone over the allegations contained in Mr. Ménos’ memorandum at some length, does not consider it necessary to discuss any further the groundless assertions contained in the final paragraph of the memorandum. One observation, however, is necessary. Mr. Ménos says that,
even if the company had been confronted with uncontrollable accidents or the nonfulfilment of an obligation on the part of the Government, it would not have been warranted either in abstaining from notifying the Department of Public Works within the sixty days stipulated in Article VII of the Contract of 1910 of the exceptional circumstances apt to justify a further extension, or in deciding on its own authority to relieve itself of all its engagements.
Mr. Ménos’ statement seems inconsistent in view of the very positive act notified both to the Department of Public Works and to the Administrator of Finance of Port au Prince, by a bailiff, in the name and on behalf of the company, on the 16th of September 1914, copy of which is submitted herewith. And further, the company repeats and maintains positively that in practically every instance, the company’s officials in Haiti did, by letters to the Department of Public Works or Finances respectively, from time to time as they arose, give notification of the various grievances, delays, nonfulfilment of obligations detrimental to the company or interfering with the execution of its works, thereby preventing the fulfilment in the time stipulated, of some of its obligations.
There can be no doubt that what the contract refers to by this delay of sixty days for such notifications, concerns facts and occurrences which could not be directly chargeable to the Haitian Government or its officials, and it is necessary to consider that in fact such occurrences and disturbances constituting cases of force majeure had been almost continuous up to September 1914 when the present difficulties occurred between the Government and the company, and thereafter continued in the Republic of Haiti without cessation up to [Page 824] the intervention of the United States. Under these conditions it was necessary to wait until they were ended to give such notification to the Government of Haiti.
The company did, in the beginning, notify the Government of the circumstances of force majeure, requesting some extension of time, but it considered it useless to do that later on, as there seemed to be no expectation of obtaining any just appreciation of the situation by the Government officials.
The question of forfeiture of the concession and proceedings carried on against the company’s concession are unjustified and in violation of the company’s concession and rights.
Appended herewith for consideration is the opinion of two eminent lawyers of Haiti on this question, Mr. Edmond Lespinasse, former Secretary of State of Finances and Foreign Affairs, and Mr. El heart, former Dean of the Bar and Professor in the Law School of Port au Prince.
But after all, and even going to the extreme, let us suppose for an instant that the company did really incur foreclosure or the forfeiture of its concession, what effect could that have on the concession as far as the Government is concerned? Surely that would not liberate the Government from the complete fulfilment of the obligations arising out of the contract. The concession, being put up at auction and sold to the highest bidder, would merely change hands; but such procedure would in no way relieve the Government from any of its contract obligations. For it must be remembered that forfeiture does not cancel the concession nor change its general conditions (except perhaps as to the time for the construction which would have to be extended so as to suit the conditions under which the purchaser would take over the property and resume construction work).
In other words, forfeiture is not a penalty provided or intended to cancel the obligations of the Government resulting from the conditions of concession, but merely a procedure whereby the concession is taken away from a party unable to fully execute it, in order to transfer it to some other party in a position to fully carry out the provisions of the concession, as it stood at the time of the forfeiture (works already executed, works yet to be executed, material, etc.).
The company therefore reiterates in the most positive manner that it has not committed or omitted acts under its concession rendering it liable to the penalty of foreclosure; that from the commencement of the work in April 1911 the company had, for its own welfare, every incentive to prosecute the work of construction with all possible speed, and that it did so prosecute with all its energy the construction of the railroad so far as possibly it could in view of more or less continual conditions of revolution and obstructive tactics of Government officials, all constituting cases of force majeure; that the company duly notified to the proper officials of Government these acts of force majeure as from time to time they occurred, but in almost every instance the Government officials failed to respond with the military or police protection or other observations of the terms of the concession.
The railroad company today is entitled to receive from the Haitian Government a sum representing the semiannual interest payments upon the bonds issued by the railroad company under the authorization of the Haitian Government, for a period of two and one-half [Page 825] years together with accrued interest thereon; it has suffered damages to its property aggregating a large amount of money for which it is entitled to receive compensation; it has had, because of various acts of recent Governments of Haiti, to stop its construction work and disorganize its operation of such portions of the road as have been constructed; and it is to the settlement of these matters that the company respectfully requests the prompt attention of Minister Ménos who has been charged by his Government with the settlement of these affairs.
- Note from Haitian Minister of September 21, 1916. For. Rel. 1916, p. 379.↩