838.51/2967: Telegram

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

70. My telegram No. 69, August 25, 5 p.m.50 I called on the President by appointment this morning at 10 o’clock and delivered to him the substance of the Department’s telegram No. 31, August 24, 1 p.m., leaving with him an aide-mémoire.

The President was vague in his replies and merely reiterated the principal arguments of the Minister for Foreign Affairs reported in my telegram 68, August 23, 2 p.m. He said that he was extremely sorry that he had not been able to inform the American Government or Mr. de la Rue in advance but that as the affair was so nebulous until Debachy’s arrival here 8 days ago he had not felt justified in doing so and that in any case he had felt delicate about speaking of the matter to de la Rue since it would probably mean the loss of his position. He did, however, pay a great tribute to de la Rue in saying that he realized that the bank sale and the general soundness of Haitian credit and financial position was largely due to his effort.

I specifically raised to him the question of the 1910 loan and that of the employment of foreigners in customs or other financial control in Haiti and he reiterated the Minister’s assurances on these points.

I developed at some length the fact that the American Government was not passing on the merits of the proposal at the time and told him that he must realize the great interest of the United States in the well-being of Haiti. I expressed the personal opinion that the chief danger in this proposition lay in the fact that possibly the entrepreneur might have exaggerated ideas of his ability to raise the necessary funds for the loan and that when it came actually to getting the money in hand he might find some difficulty if no further security [Page 671] were offered by the Haitian Government than that which the President mentioned. The President stated that he had definite engagements in writing from the entrepreneur that the money would be forthcoming and was “his affair not ours” and added with some heat that he never would have entered into the contract if it had not been sound in every particular. The President expressed regret that his efforts to secure money for a refunding loan of liberation and for immediate public works had not met with success in the United States. He referred to the really deep economic misery of his people and stated that if he were not so personally popular disturbances might have taken place recently in the north. I may add that although I endeavored to commit him on the point several times I could not secure from him a statement as to whether the capital for the proposed loan had been subscribed nor from what group of bankers. The President explained that the whole proposition was entirely unofficial and that the French Legation was entirely unaware of the proposals that have been made.

The President then turned the conversation to other needs of Haiti and developed for 10 minutes the possibility of establishing two large tourist hotels in Haiti.

The President’s special message is to be delivered this morning at 11:30.

  1. Telegram in two sections.
  2. Not printed.