638.5131/49: Telegram

The Chargé in Haiti (Chapin) to the Secretary of State

37. Legation’s despatch No. 565, March 12 and Department’s telegram No. 8, March 20, 11 a.m.,31 regarding Franco-Haitian Commercial Agreement. French Minister yesterday presented ultimatum in form of note with memorandum to the Haitian Government stating that since the trade agreement between Haiti and the United States prevents France from securing a special customs tariff enjoyed by her alone the French Government while continuing its demands for further tariff reductions insists upon a satisfactory settlement of the difficulties raised by the Haitian Government against payment in gold of the arrears of the 5 per cent loan of 1910.32

The French Government makes contingent any renewal of its commercial agreement of 1934 upon the pledge that Haiti will enter into agreement with the French bondholders for the resumption under satisfactory conditions within 3 months of the date of signature of a French commercial accord of the service of the 1910 loan which he states is now suspended or paid in paper francs. Memorandum concludes that failure to give pledge will result in automatic application of the general French custom tariff33 to all Haitian imports and the cancellation of the coffee quota.

Note states in part as follows:

“I should be grateful if Your Excellency would be kind enough to advise me as soon as possible and before the 26th of this month the reply of the Haitian Government. My instructions would not permit me in effect to prolong in agreement with Your Excellency and for a new and short period the agreements still in view between our two countries unless I should receive in good time the positive proof of the intention of the Haitian Government to accept the demands which I have been instructed to submit to it.”

[Page 656]

De la Rue states this is first instance of which he is aware that French Government has made direct demand on Haitian Government with reference to gold payment of 1910 loan although discussions were had between French Government and State Department.

Vincent34 was particularly worried when de la Rue saw him yesterday afternoon and asked de la Rue to get documents which were finally made available to him this morning by the Foreign Minister.35 Foreign Minister stated that French Minister had personally protested against ratification of the American Trade Agreement when it was under consideration by National Assembly and later definitely said that Haiti closed the door to France by rookery. President Vincent has earnestly requested through de la Rue such good offices as the Department may be in a position to extend vis-à-vis French Government, since Haiti cannot meet new French demands and since Haitian policy on 1910 loan was taken in agreement with State Department. If coffee market closed as threatened on May 26th publicity is unavoidable.

Haitian Government is withholding reply in the hope that some indication may be received from the Department before May 26.

  1. Ante, p. 649.
  2. For text of loan contract, see Le Moniteur, October 26, 1910, p. 606; for further correspondence on this subject, see pp. 667 ff.
  3. République Française, Ministère des Finances, Direction Générale des Douanes, Tarif des douanes de France: Tableau des droits d’entrée et de sortie (Paris, Imprimerie Nationale, 1935).
  4. Sténio Vincent, President of Haiti.
  5. Yrech Chatelain.