838.51/3202: Telegram

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

46. I had a long talk with the Minister for Foreign Affairs20 this morning. He told me that on November 4 the President proposed to make a speech at Gonaives in which he would announce the cessation of foreign financial control. I replied that as the Minister was aware our Government had on various occasions reiterated its readiness to terminate the present financial arrangement if and when he requested it; was I to understand that his present statement was meant to constitute such formal request? Léger replied that Blanchet had been instructed to approach the Department in that sense and that he understood he had done so. Will the Department please let me know the facts in this connection?

[Page 608]

I asked Léger how he envisaged the effect of this imminent speech of the President, to be followed shortly by actual abolition of the Fiscal Representative’s office, upon the present loan negotiations. He replied that Haiti did not seem to be making any very definite progress toward getting a loan, and that de la Rue’s latest project in so far as it had been roughly outlined up to date did not seem to him very practicable; consequently he did not think that these steps would make much difference. I asked him if he meant by that that his Government was discouraged and had lost interest in an American loan. He replied that it had not and that it was going to continue to make every effort to get a loan on the American market (adding parenthetically that a loan on any other market seemed extremely problematical); however, he felt that if negotiations were successfully concluded for an American loan and as soon as the bonds were issued the Fiscal Representative’s office were to be abolished, this would lead to as much, if not more, criticism than if this step were taken beforehand, and so he thought it would be just as well to have the situation made clear cut and relieved of this ambiguity.

Please inform de la Rue of the foregoing.

I then observed that the agreement as to the form of the draft supplementary treaty and its annexed letters went back to the spring of 1934 and consequently that the modalities for terminating the present financial arrangement would now have to be somewhat modified and would require further negotiations; for instance, I thought that my Government would now wish to effect this step by exchange of notes or protocol rather than by treaty. Léger said that he saw no objection to that and that his Government did not anticipate that the negotiation of these modalities would prove very difficult. I pointed out that as I saw it the Haitian Government would have to enact and promulgate certain legislation prior to or at least concurrently with the signature of a protocol; Léger said he understood this and it had already been taken into consideration to the extent of drafting some of the necessary legislation.

To conclude this branch of the conversation the Foreign Minister said he wished to assure me that in seeking to abolish the Fiscal Representative’s office and to put the Haitians in control of Haitian finances, his Government had no intention of weakening the powers or attributes of this office as they would be transferred to other hands inasmuch as it recognized the valuable services this office had performed and what a good protection it had offered to the President and other high officials in resisting raids on the Treasury. It struck me that the Foreign Minister’s ideas as reported in the preceding sentence were somewhat less clear than usual.

  1. Telegram in two sections; for section 2, see p. 680.
  2. Georges Léger.