838.51/3705: Telegram

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

107. My telegram No. 104, August 11, 1 p.m. Leger states he has received the following reply from Chatelain (translation).

“I reported to you in my cable of June 28 the opinion of Monsieur Delenda, Assistant Director of Commercial Relations, with whom I have been constantly in touch to renew the commercial convention. But it results from a conversation which I have just had with Massigli57 and de la Baume58 that this opinion is contested by the Ministry of Finance, the association of bearers and the Banque Union Parisienne who claim the transfer in conformity with the protocol. It is recognized that in this there is a great obstacle which it is incumbent on you to lift in the shortest possible delay in order to obtain the good execution of the convention because the funds which are in question are the property of the Haitian Government and have a predetermined purpose. They renew the assurance that the French Government will not tolerate any seizure on the funds thus transferred and they ask you to transmit this assurance to whoever has a right to know it who can also find out about it himself.”

Léger stated that he expected to inform de Lens this morning that Chatelain had evidently been right in assuming that Delenda, with whom he had been dealing throughout the negotiations, spoke for the French Government when he stated that no actual transfer of the redemption fund need be made. Leger is also reminding de Lens that he informed both him (Leger) and President Vincent upon his return here that he knew for a fact that his Government was agreeable to the theoretic transfer.

Leger stated, also, that he expects very forceful opposition to be raised by the French if American merchandise similar in nature to that appearing on list C of the French convention is granted similar treatment. I am now convinced that he expects to endeavor to induce de la Rue to take the step which would grant our goods similar treatment. He will thus be in a position, should the French denounce the convention, to put the blame on the United States. Leger stated quite frankly that if the convention falls, the United States will certainly be blamed by local public opinion; that Lescot had talked rather freely before his departure for the United States on July 13 to the effect that the United States was furious with Leger for permitting the secret protocol. He said the fall of the convention would [Page 631] be a blow to the Government as well, he thought, as to the regard in which the United States is now held here.

Following an inquiry from the Panama Railroad SS Company, I inquired informally from Leger whether the French were prepared now, as they had been in 1935, to consider that coffee shipped from Haiti to New York in American bottoms and there transferred into French would be considered under the documents accompanying the convention as having been shipped in French bottoms. Leger stated that they were not; that they said they were going to put adequate ship’s boats into Port-au-Prince to take their share of coffee shipments. Apparently Leger has accepted this thesis on condition that an adequate number of ships come, and freight rates are no higher. Leger stated that he thought this was a matter concerning which the American Government might wish to protest. He believed that it was only after the intervention of the American Government in Paris in 1935 that the old ruling had been obtained. I shall appreciate instructions.

  1. René Massigli, Director of Political and Commercial Affairs, French Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
  2. Renom de la Baume, Adjunct Director of Political and Commercial Affairs, French Ministry for Foreign Affairs.