838.00/2943: Telegram

The Minister in Haiti (Munro) to the Secretary of State

25. Department’s telegram No. 18, March 26, 7 p.m. While I am entirely in accord with the Department’s view that the non-financial services should be rapidly turned over to Haitian control and that the future status of the financial services should be settled as soon as possible, I feel that there are grave objections from our standpoint to several details of the procedure which the Department has in mind. Since the matter is extremely complicated I think it would be very helpful if I should discuss it personally with the Department before final action is taken. I feel especially that it would be difficult to justify a demand that a new convention be ratified before a plan of Haitianization is put into effect. While I have made it clear throughout the negotiations that the final result would have to be submitted to the Department for approval I have felt that [I had?] the Department’s justification in making rather definite commitments on particular points and the Haitian Government having before it a general statement of what we would expect in regard to each service has relied on these commitments in settling controversies which have arisen. I feel therefore that our good faith is involved and that I personally should be very much embarrassed if I had to bring forward new demands before winding [returning?] to the present negotiations. [Page 439] Furthermore the local situation which is still very delicate makes it highly desirable to announce a general plan and put into effect immediately some concrete measures of Haitianization.

I believe that a new convention in the form proposed would encounter violent opposition and that it would be unsatisfactory from our point of view. The intense feeling here about the present treaty would make it much more difficult to obtain acceptance of new treaty repeating most of the old articles, than to obtain acceptance of another treaty which gave us the same authority but in different language. There would be a decided advantage from our point of view in redrafting the provisions about financial control because the present provisions are subject to very great interpretations and their language is inadequate to meet the situation which will exist under an elected congress. Furthermore, I feel strongly that it will be impracticable and unnecessary as we give up our control of other activities here, to maintain the complete financial control now exercised and that the interest of the bondholders can be amply secured by a different arrangement.

I do not think that we shall materially weaken our plan in negotiating a new convention if we conclude the present plan of Haitianization first. The relinquishment of the control of the revenues would be a sufficient inducement to persuade the Haitian Government to accept almost any reasonable new arrangement. Furthermore I cannot too strongly emphasize the fact that it is inadvisable in dealing with the Haitian Government to appear to bargain for what we must insist upon as a right. If there is any suggestion of bargaining instead of simply stating what we can do and what we must insist upon, the negotiations will be immeasurably more difficult.

I should recommend, therefore, that the Department instruct me to proceed by airplane to Washington, with the Financial Adviser, about April 12th, and to endeavor to conclude before that date an accord on Haitianization, the general details of which the Haitian Government could announce informally. This would also give us time to deal with the exceedingly urgent and critical question of the budget. I could then state that I was proceeding to Washington to lay the Haitianization plan before the Department for final approval and also to obtain instructions regarding the new accord on the financial service. I think that my visit to Washington should be as brief as possible and I will be prepared to expedite matters by having a concrete plan to lay before the Department on my arrival. If the Department approves this recommendation I hope advance instructions may be sent to me at once so that I can make suitable preparations. In the meantime I hope that the Department will reply further to my telegrams number 17 of March 11th, 1931 and number 18 of March 14th, 1931.

[Page 440]

With regard to the commissioning of customs employees it seems to me that it is unnecessary to insist upon a literal application of article II of the treaty at present when as a matter of fact during the last 15 years we have ourselves observed literally the provisions of this article, apparently interpreting it to apply only to the highest American officials in the service. It would be obviously important [impossible?] to apply it to all aids and employees down to clerks and office boys and it would be inadvisable in my opinion to apply it to Haitian aids of any rank since the President of the United States should hardly assume responsibility for the [appointed?] Haitians. At present the Haitian employees are appointed and removed by the General Receiver without reference to article II.

The proposed change would permit the more important of these to be commissioned by the President as are many Haitian officials in other treaty services but would not materially affect the General Receiver’s control over them. The proposed arrangement is certainly no more inconsistent with the treaty in force than the existing arrangement and while the change means nothing to us it would give the Haitian Government much satisfaction.

  1. Telegram in three sections.