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

No. 373

The Secretary of State quotes below for the information of the American Minister a paraphrase of a telegram from the American Embassy at Paris, dated March 7, 1936, relating to the 1910 loan question and the Franco-Haitian Commercial Agreement.

Today Cochran46 visited the French Minister for Foreign Affairs and spoke with de la Baume, who negotiated the July 5 extension of [Page 672] the Franco-Haitian Commercial Agreement.47 de la Baume had before him his unfinished draft of a note to the Haitian Minister in Paris denouncing the above-mentioned agreement, de la Baume told Cochran that when the agreement was consummated in July last there had been a confidential exchange of correspondence in which the Haitian Minister agreed to open discussions within three months from that date looking toward the settlement of the 1910 loan matter. According to de la Baume it was agreed that failure on the part of the Haitian Government to open such discussions would call for denunciation of the Agreement by the French Government. The provision that only one month’s notice would be required for denunciation, though a three month period is usual in French commercial treaties, was inserted in the Agreement by de la Baume.

Nothing further was heard from Mayard until October 5, the last day of the three-month period, when he called on the National Association of French Holders of Securities, and at that time he had no definite information to furnish. After waiting in vain five additional months de la Baume said that the Foreign Office had requested Mayard to call a few days ago. No written communication was given to him but he was permitted to take down an informal memorandum of their decision to denounce the Treaty on March 6, if by that time no concrete proposal had been received from the Government of Haiti on the question of a settlement of the 1910 loan matter. In answer to Cochran’s inquiry, de la Baume informed him that an offer of arbitration on Haiti’s part would be accepted in this sense, de la Baume added that the French Government would not be severe but would be inclined to accept any sincere and positive offer; that the French Government had, however, become tired of the dilatory tactics of the Haitians.… In stressing the French exports to Haiti as contrasted with the heavy exports of Haiti to France de la Baume said he considered it reasonable that France should assume her present position.

Cochran then referred to the understanding gained by Mr. Welles48 at the time of his visit with French Foreign officials last autumn, that the French Government did not intend to exert pressure on the Haitians to the point of denouncing the Commercial Agreement until payment in gold of the 1910 loan was agreed. Insofar as the French Foreign Office and the Haitian Minister are concerned, de la Baume said that there could not possibly have been any misunderstanding on this question. The two matters had been definitely tied together by the correspondence of last summer.

de la Baume then informed Cochran that Mayard had called on him the same morning (March 7) and stated that he had cabled the Haitian Government in the premises, but since he (Mayard) did not exactly understand the matter he begged for an extension of time, de la Baume stated that he informed Mayard that he would be available over the week end if Mayard had anything definite to submit, and that he advised Mayard to report the case very clearly to his Government, de la Baume stated to Cochran that the French Ministers of Commerce and Finance are in accord with the course which he is following, and if the French Government does not receive concrete proposals [Page 673] from Haiti by the first of the week (week beginning March 9) he will send the note denouncing the Agreement, upon which he was then drafting, to be submitted to M. Flandin49 for signing.

[File Copy not signed]
  1. H. Merle Cochran, First Secretary of the American Embassy in France.
  2. July 5, 1935, exchange of notes renewing the commercial agreement of April 12, 1930; for texts, see France, Jouranl Officiel, July 8–9, 1935, p. 7326.
  3. Sumner Welles, Assistant Secretary of State.
  4. Pierre Etienne Flandin, French Minister for Foreign Affairs.