The High Commissioner in Haiti (Russell) to the Secretary of State
[Received November 9—10:35 a.m.]
135. Department’s 103 November 4, 6 p.m. Had an interview with President Borno and carefully discussed all points mentioned in the Department’s telegram. President Borno at the close of the discussion stated that he was ready to agree to all the points but that he still strongly objected to the right of appeal to Arbitral Tribunal for claims originating after 1913. He pointed out that article 8 of the Claims Commission law recently passed read as follows: “The decisions of the commission will be without appeal except anterior exchange-of-notes conventions,” and furthermore that to grant the right of appeal to French claimants for claims originating after 1913 would not only violate this law but would also give a privilege to the French not accorded to the British, Italian or other claimants who would have just cause for complaint. President Borno urged me on account of possible serious consequences to again bring this matter to the attention of the Department. I understand the British Chargé d’Affaires has already spoken to French Minister concerning this matter.
Yesterday morning the French Minister called and discussed exchange of notes. It appears that he had informed the Haitian Government that the clause regarding the expenses of the Arbitral Tribunal being covered as provided in the 1913 protocol had been rejected by the French Government. I informed him that I had received [omission?] the contingent expenses. He then admitted that he had instructions to the same effect but only if the Haitian Government agreed to the other points. He then stated that the Haitian Minister of Fomento had informed him that the Haitian claims would be considered first and asked me if that was so. I informed him that I hoped it was. He replied that the Claims Commission had no right to consider Haitian claims; that it was limited in its powers to the consideration of the foreign claims. I explained to him that he had been misinformed and referred him to article 3 of the protocol of 1919. He stated that he disagreed with me and that it would put off the consideration of French claims some seven months.[Page 545]
The consideration of the Haitian claims first is in my opinion most important and to this the Financial Adviser suggests that the Department immediately cable General Crowder97 asking him to select and obtain the consent of a Cuban jurist who speaks French to serve on the Claims Commission during the consideration of other than French, British and Italian claims. Financial Adviser would immediately appoint him and he could be brought at once to Port au Prince. I strongly approve this suggestion and if Cuban not available suggest Dominican on Mr. Welles’98 recommendation. Either I am sure would be acceptable to the Haitian Government.
Referring to the Department’s 104 November 6, 5 p.m. Members of Claims Commission not yet formally [appointed]. President Borno a few days ago informed me that he was only waiting for the nomination by the Financial Adviser of the member to serve during consideration of the Haitian claims. Arrêté will then be issued covering all appointments. I shall see President Borno and urge immediate appointment of nominations already received. Will cable result.