851B.20/260: Telegram

The Consul General in Martinique (Malige) to the Secretary of State

177. The following is a close translation of Admiral Robert’s reply to our note:

“I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of April 26.7 I take note of it.

Almost 6 months have passed since Mr. Reber’s note of November 13, 1942,8 which established, in the present situation of Metropolitan France and North Africa, the basis of our relations. Since that date all my efforts have tended to amend that agreement, in the sense of your material requests, while conserving legitimate care for the interests of which I have charge. Since that date the acts of your Government have been combined in order to drive the people of these colonies into hunger. And now the American Government bases arguments on misfortunes, which France is in the physical impossibility of avoiding, to pronounce the rupture of all relations with the territories placed under my authority.

I protest in the name of the French Government against the unjust judgment that is formulated very lightly regarding it. It is not a question of general opinion. History will say some day what was spared the French people, [as] the Marshal9 has told us (message of April 4, 194310).

I protest in the name of the Frenchmen of the Antilles whom you have subjected by blockade and by violating your engagements to the abusive action of force and power.

I protest in my name, for I am conscious—in charge of the foreign relations of these colonies—of always having been for the United States ‘a good neighbor’ and of having merited treatment as such.

I regret to see that the difficulties of war appear to conceal from the American Government and American public opinion what is for us a living reality. I regret it for the French people. I regret it also for the American people who perhaps some day will have to pay the price of this unawareness.

I accept provisionally the maintenance of the naval observers at Martinique and Guadeloupe.”

  1. See footnote 3, p. 238.
  2. Not printed; but for Admiral Robert’s reply, November 14, 1942, see Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. ii, p. 648.
  3. Marshal Henri Philippe Pétain.
  4. For text of Marshal Pétain’s message, see the New York Times, April 5, 1943 p. 8.