838.51/3701: Telegram

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

104. Leger informs me that the French Minister called on him yesterday upon instructions from Paris and stated officially that the French Government must insist on the transfer of the 1910 redemption fund to Paris. On the one hand, they would give formal assurances that the money would not be attached or molested in any way and that, pending the presentation of the bonds, it would remain in the name of the Haitian Government. The Minister also stated officially that the French Government considered that the 1910 claim would then be settled and that it would not in future support any action by the bondholders. On the other hand the French Government while making this official statement to Haiti saw no reason for putting this statement in writing.

With reference to the transfer, Leger stated that he informed the American Government that the transfer would not be made only after Chatelain had received the most formal assurances from the French Minister of Foreign Affairs that a theoretical transfer of these funds was quite acceptable. He has now cabled Chatelain as follows (translation).

“French Legation has called upon me to transfer money deposit to French bank in accordance with protocol. Haitian Government following your telegram of June 28 has already given formal assurances to the American Government that transfer would be made only theoretically and the demand of the French Government creates a serious embarrassment for us. See immediately the Minister for Foreign Affairs and recall the verbal agreement of June 28 and explain the inextricable situation resulting from these new demands. Make it known that according to the arrangement of June 28 bearers may immediately obtain total amount for bonds presented for redemption. Cable immediately result of your representations. Leger.”

Leger also stated that de Lens had advised him after he returned here that this theoretical transfer was quite satisfactory to his Government for he had been in Paris when that decision was reached. In response to Leger’s question as to why this new attitude, de Lens stated that he could not discuss the matter further than to make known to Leger his instructions.

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Leger said that, in reply, he expressed deep surprise and embarrassment and said that this brought this question to an impasse. The only thing he could recommend was that the French Ambassador in Washington have a talk with the Under Secretary on this subject. De Lens stated that he would so advise his Government.