838.51/3704: Telegram

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

106. My telegram No. 104, August 11, 1 p.m. De la Rue informs me that Leger discussed the French matter with him this morning. Leger said he was almost helpless to combat this new exhibition of French intransigence. He might threaten to denounce the convention but he felt sure that France would immediately accept and the commercial relations between the two countries would be back in the status quo ante. He said that he felt sure a commercial accord with France even if, as seemed probable, no notable advantages to Haiti resulted, was politically important both for the President and for him personally.

Leger stated that the French Government was well aware of the American attitude on these questions, that it had taken its position in face of these known objections and that, save for such limited pressure as he could bring to bear, the affair was necessarily and chiefly one between France and the United States.

Since Leger had already asked de Lens to suggest that discussions be taken up in Washington, de la Rue advised Leger to instruct Lescot to see the Under Secretary at once. He also advised Leger to call me over and ask me to reinforce this. I have not yet been called.

Personally I feel that it would not be wise now to take any action that would bring about The Chargé in Haiti that we were responsible for the denunciation of the convention. The suspicion is just commencing to grow here that the French coffee market is not what it used to be, and that Haiti has gained little if anything by the convention. Until this becomes publicly obvious local reaction against us might be considerable. I also feel strongly that while these latest developments seem to be chargeable to renewed French dissimulation we should not lose sight of the fact that Leger at present is at bottom responsible for all these difficulties. I do not therefore entirely share his views that the affair is now necessarily and chiefly one between France and the United States.