838.51/3216: Telegram

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

51. At its meeting this afternoon the board of directors of the bank received a communication addressed to it by Léger the salient passages of which are as follows:

“As a result of agreements concluded with the American Government, the Haitian Government in the near future will proceed to the suppression of the office of the fiscal agent and its replacement by a service of control of receipts and expenses of the Republic. This new service of the Finance Ministry which will be administered exclusively by Haitians will have practically the same attributes as those formerly exercised by the office of the fiscal representative”.

The letter then states that under the terms of the bank contract the bank is also called upon to effect interior payments, to control and inspect the customshouse statements of account, to supervise the receipts of the Government and to publish economic and financial reports and statistics.

For these new services, the letter continues, the bank will be allotted 2 per cent of the gross receipts of the Government. The letter closed [Page 610] by requesting the board to communicate to Léger at the earliest moment possible the plan for organization of these new services which the board considers necessary.

Although the terms of paragraphs one and two supra seem somewhat self-contradictory, nevertheless, it seems clear that “the service of the issue of checks as now organized” recited in article 10 of our proposed note does not to the Haitians mean the “service of payments” as it is now organized in the fiscal representative’s office. This was what I had in mind when I raised a question with regard to article 10 in my telegram number 47 of October 30, 3 p.m.22

As the Department in its air mail instruction No. 42722 stated that in the absence of any objections from de la Rue, the Department considered the provisions of this article to be adequate, the Deputy Fiscal Representative23 after consultation with me sent de la Rue a letter by the air mail of November 7 showing clearly that, although de la Rue considered the “service of payments” and the “service of emission of checks” to be one and the same thing, the Haitians do not so consider it and therefore article 10 should be modified. Léger’s letter to the board of directors confirms this. Moreover, Dejean the presumptive Haitian Director General of Customs has been talking quite freely to this same effect.

It seems to me that this letter of Léger’s constitutes further evidence of the Haitian tendency to feel that this matter is for all practical purposes settled and that they can go right ahead with their measures for terminating the present financial arrangements; in other words they do not seem fully to realize that the instrument effecting this termination has to be carefully negotiated and that we are entitled to submit our views as to what these measures should consist of.

Moreover, after waiting for more than 2 years since the principle of this termination was agreed upon there is no good reason now for undue haste.

I should appreciate it if the Department would either bring these considerations to the attention of Blanchet and request him to point out to his Government the desirability of Haitian officials taking no other active steps in the premises until the necessary negotiations concluded or else instruct me by telegraph to make representations to Léger in the same sense.

Gordon
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Rex A. Pixley.