File No. 838.77/158

Minister Blanchard to the Secretary of State


Your January 17, 5 p.m. received January 19 and instructions complied with twentieth. The following reply of the Haitian Government received today:


I have had the honor to receive on Saturday January 20 the letter of the same date that your excellency addressed to me to transmit to me the instructions which you had received from your Government relative to the litigation existing between the Haitian Government and the National Railroad Company.

The sincere desire and the firm will of the Government of Haiti to settle definitely this litigation cannot be put in doubt.

It is absolutely correct that Mr. Ménos has had instructions to negotiate an arrangement and the delay of which the Government of the United States complains is justified by the fact that the National Railroad Company, having recommended the project of arrangement proposed by Mr. Ménos, by virtue of instructions our Minister at Washington was compelled to refer to us; the claim of the company not being acceptable to the Haitian Government, the latter then thought the best method in which to settle everything was to require the enlightened opinion of Financial Adviser Ruan and Engineer Oberlin. The Government had already caused to be prepared the reports and documents indispensable for the facilitation of the work of Messrs. Ruan and Oberlin, when suddenly the latter was called to the United States. The Haitian Government requested a delay from the American Government in order that Mr. Oberlin might prolong his sojourn in Haiti; but this request was not favorably received according to what your excellency advised me by your letter December 19 last. It was then that the American expert who appeared necessary for the complete examination of the question failing us, the Government with the single aim of hastening the resumption of the negotiations at Washington, thought that it must renounce [Page 828] the consultation which it had had in view, and under December 28, 1916, transmitted to Mr. Ménos the text of an arrangement to be proposed to the National Company under the good offices of the Department of State.

It results from these facts, Mr. Minister, that the delay which the settlement of the litigation has encountered, can only be charged to circumstances, and that it would be excessive to suspect on this occasion the good faith of any one of the interested parties.

In conclusion, and to furnish fresh proof, both of the high interest which we attach to arriving at solution at the earliest possible moment, as well as for our respect for contracts entered into by the State, the Government of the Republic, in conformity with the provisions of Article 7 of the Contract of Concession of September 12, 1906, the article relative to arbitration [apparent omission]:

First, to give full powers to the Financial Adviser to settle with the arbitrator of the National Railroad Company the disputed questions pending between the parties; and second, to recognize that the Haitian Government cannot be otherwise than be bound by the powers conferred upon Mr. Ruan [apparent omission], by virtue of a contract of concession of the railroad, a contract which none of the parties is supposed to want to violate or annul.

And finally, to avoid from now on any possible misunderstanding, it is of moment, to draw the attention of your excellency’s Government to this fundamental consideration, that if the American Government, renouncing henceforth the exercise of its good offices, presented the question of the railroad company as a claim in favor of an American company, it would yet be necessary to refer to Article 12 of the Convention of September 16, 1915, relative to the settlement of direct claims, which prescribes that “the Haitian Government agrees to execute with the United States a protocol for the settlement, by arbitration or otherwise, of all pending pecuniary claims of foreign corporations, companies, citizens or subjects against Haiti”.