The Chargé in Haiti (Finley) to the Secretary of State
[Received 3:24 p.m.]
61. Department’s 34, August 7, 4 p.m.96 I read Leger most of the Department’s telegram. He reaffirmed that the French Government could be under no possible misapprehension as to his position in the 1910 matter. He had several times repeated his declaration to the French Minister here that he no longer feels bound even morally to pay the French bondholders anything. De Lens assured him that he had transmitted this information to his Government. To make certain that it reached Paris correctly he had asked his Minister there to say the same at the Foreign Office and he had done so.
The Legation has considerable ground for believing that De Lens may have understated Leger’s declaration to his Government. De Lens expects to leave Haiti in the near future and has expressed anxiety to Leger that his career may be prejudiced unless he can show some tangible success in these negotiations.
With regard to the modus vivendi,97 Leger said that neither Haiti nor France had materially benefitted by this arrangement. The minimum tariff rates which had been accorded French specialties such as wine were still too high greatly to increase the volume of imports. Moreover, the temporary nature of the agreement had naturally prevented any “futures” market for Haitian coffee in France.
Leger said he personally was not in favor of raising duties on French imports to the maximum level upon the expiration of the modus [Page 585]vivendi. However he expected to inform De Lens that the Haitian Government is seriously considering this step unless the French quota for Haitian coffee can be materially increased by prolonging the arrangement. He said that he considered 30,000 or 40,000 bags wholly inadequate. He wanted to see how the French would react to this.