The Chargé in Haiti (Finley) to the Secretary of State

No. 539

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my telegram No. 64, dated August 13, 12 noon, 1937,98 and to transmit the text and a translation thereof of a Note dated August 13, 1937, which has been received from the Haitian Foreign Office regarding the attitude of the Haitian Government with respect to the 1910 loan controversy.

Respectfully yours,

Harold D. Finley
[Page 586]

The Haitian Minister for Foreign Affairs (Leger) to the American Chargé (Finley)

Mr. Chargé d’affaires: I desire to confirm in all points the conversation which we have had this morning regarding the attitude of the Haitian Government concerning the non-official propositions which had been envisaged for the settlement of the controversy with France as to the matter of the 1910 loan.

On July 19 I declared to the French Minister at Port-au-Prince that the Haitian Government could not let the existing situation be prolonged; that we thought that the moment had come for us to determine what were the intentions of the French Government; that as a consequence I asked him to be kind enough to let me know definitely whether his Government accepted or not the non-official proposals envisaged for the settlement of the 1910 matter; and whether they were or were not disposed to sign the treaty of commerce which we had negotiated. I likewise declared to the Minister of France that if his Government did not let me learn of its acceptance of the non-official propositions, the Haitian Government would consider itself divested of all moral obligations with regard to this matter, and would recover its absolute freedom of action with regard to the 1910 controversy.

Monsieur de Lens asked for a delay of eight days in order to obtain a reply of his Government to this notification.

As a precaution, on July 211 cabled to my Minister at Paris asking him to confirm to the Quai d’Orsay the declarations which I had made to the French Minister at Port-au-Prince. On July 23, Monsieur Chatelain replied by cable that my instructions had been executed.

M. de Lens having delayed in letting me know the reply of the French Government, I declared to him, during the course of a new conversation which took place at the end of the month of July, that the Haitian Government had recovered its complete liberty of action and did not consider itself bound in any manner by the non-official proposals previously envisaged. This declaration, which was quite clear, was confirmed during the course of two other conversations which I had with M. de Lens during the first days of August with regard to certain details of the treaty of commerce which was under discussion. No doubt can exist in the mind of M. de Lens as to the attitude of the Haitian Government, and it is equally certain from these conversations that M. de Lens has transmitted to his Government the declaration which I have made to him.

[Page 587]

I am therefore able with difficulty to explain the misunderstanding which seems to exist with regard to the position taken by the Haitian Government; I am able to explain still less the declarations which have been made to the American Ambassador by Minister Chatelain and which you were good enough to bring to my attention this morning.

To end this inexplicable situation, I have cabled again this morning to the Minister of Haiti at Paris, asking him to dissipate the erroneous impression brought about by the conversation which the American Ambassador had with him on the 11th of August and giving him instructions to confirm, if he judges it necessary, to the Quai d’Orsay the declarations which have already been made by the Haitian Government with regard to the 1910 controversy.

Please accept [etc.]

Georges N. Leger
  1. Not printed.