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

No. 126

Sir: I have the honor to report that despatch No. 1899 dated March 7, 1938, from the Paris Embassy,36 a copy of which was enclosed with the Department’s instruction No. 43 dated March 29, 1938, has been read with considerable interest and it is noted that unless the Department feels it advisable to bring unusual pressure to bear on the French Government, the Embassy feels that re-opening discussion of the 1910 question in its relation to a new Franco-Haitian commercial convention would be entirely futile.

M. Léger, the Haitian Secretary for Foreign Relations, has asked me several times recently whether anything had been heard on this subject, which is still engaging his particular interest. The Department will recall that it has been the Foreign Minister’s constant wish to see commercial relations with France resumed, and he, as well as many of the coffee exporters, feel that the French coffee market is still necessary to Haitian economy. I have the impression that M. Léger has never himself been averse to an arrangement with the 1910 bondholders which would permit the commercial question to be solved.

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As the Minister for Foreign Affairs has asked me recently what if any further help he might expect from the Department in the above regard I feel that shortly I must give him some sort of a reply. I might observe here that M. Léger is under no illusions concerning the matter and understands that the only way that France can be brought to a reasonable trade agreement with Haiti is to try “pressure” from the United States unless Haiti is willing to concede to French wishes regarding the 1910 bondholders. In the circumstances the matter boils down to this. Are we willing to help Haiti by exerting “pressure” on France and to protect Haiti from surrendering to French demands regarding the settlement of the 1910 loan—demands we consider unjust and against our interests—or, am I to tell M. Léger that we can do nothing further and so in effect hand over the Haitian Government to the tender mercies of France, most probably to the technical detriment of our 1922 bondholders and certainly to the weakening of our position vis-à-vis the Haitian Government.

I should greatly appreciate the Department’s specific instruction on this matter.

Respectfully yours,

Ferdinand L. Mayer
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