838.51/3202: Telegram

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

46. (Section 2.) With regard to the opening of the American market to Haitian coffee the Foreign Minister63 said that he was all in favor of this whether or not the French commercial treaty were to be renewed and the French market regained for this year’s crop. He felt that progress was being made in this respect and he was glad to note that New York orders for Haitian coffee were now actually being placed. However, he did not share the optimism of those who felt that Haiti could sell the major part or even a really substantial amount of this year’s crop on the New York market and feared that it would take at least another year or two to attain such a result. According to him, the President shared this view and in consequence the Government remains much worried about the French situation. I then inquired if his Government was worried to the extent that it still considered it might have to make some sacrifice to secure the renewal of the French treaty, or whether in view of the good progress now being made in opening up the American market, of the pressure being brought on the French Government by various French interests to renew the treaty, and of the weakness of the French position in coupling the 1910 loan question with that of treaty renewal, the Haitian Government could afford to stand on the merits of its own case. The Foreign Minister then said that he would like to ask me very frankly whether I thought my Government would be disposed to take any steps to aid the Haitian Government vis-à-vis the French Government in this connection. I replied in the same sense that I had to the President when he last brought up this same point (see page 4 of the memorandum to my despatch No. 254 of June 2064) and I said [Page 681] that in view of what we had already done in this respect I personally did not see what further specific steps we could take. Léger said he would be grateful if I would put this point to the Department again and request a definite expression of its views. Accordingly, I should be glad to receive an instruction in the premises.

If, Léger continued, the personal opinion which I had just expressed should be substantiated and Haiti should have to rely on herself in this controversy with the French Government she would have to consider making some sacrifice in order to secure a renewal of the treaty.

I asked him if I could indicate even approximately the extent of the sacrifice that might be contemplated. He replied that he did not know yet what the new French Minister, who just arrived yesterday, was about to propose to him; however, the Haitian Government was determined not to submit the controversy either to arbitration or to the Permanent Court of International Justice and not “to pay the French any real money”—as he now envisaged it, any compromise settlement would consist either of a “purely symbolical” trifling payment or of a paper obligation to pay in the rather distant future. He said that he would keep me informed of contemplated general developments in Haitian policy vis-à-vis France and in conclusion said that he wished to let me know that as long as he was in this office we would be faced with no accomplished facts “as in the Debachy case”.

  1. Telegram in two sections; for section 1 see p. 607.
  2. Georges Léger.
  3. Not printed.