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United States Department of State / Papers relating to the foreign relations of the United States, 1920

Haiti,   pp. 760-853 PDF (33.4 MB)

Page 794

With regard to the four laws hereinbelow, the enactment of
which is demanded, the Haitian Government hastens to furnish the
following information:
A.-Laqw putting into operation section 15 of the contract of retrait
and confirming the gourde as being the legal currency of Haiti
The note of the Minister of the United States calls upon the
Government to adopt article I of the bill of the Financial Adviser,
worded as follows: " In accordance with the law, the gourde is and
remains the national monetary unit and as such is legal tender
throughout the Republic."
The Government does not know to what law the Adviser refers.
No monetary unit can be established without specifying the weight
and fineness. So the franc, the French monetary unit, is defined by
the law of Thermidor 28, year III of the French Revolution: " The
value of 5 grams of a silver alloy .900 fine."
The United States dollar is a gold coin weighing 1.6718 grams
and .900 fine (Revised Statutes of the United States and act of
March 14, 1900, section I 25). It is essential to state the weight in
precious metal and the fineness of the alloy in determining the unit
of value. That is what the monetary legislation of every country
has done. That is what was done by article 2 of the Haitian law
of April 16, 1913, fixing as follows the national monetary unit:
"On and after January 1, 1914, the national monetary unit shall
be the gold gourde, the weight and fineness of which shall be
identical with the weight and fineness of the quarter dollar of the
United States of America in gold, namely, .418 grams .900 fine
with .100 copper, with an allowance of .002 in fineness. The
gourde is divided into one hundred parts or centimes."
The Government agrees upon the reduction of the monetary unit
of Haiti from a quarter to a fifth of the gold dollar of the United
States by substituting in the foregoing article fifth for quarter and
.3348 grams for .418 grams.
The national currency can only be gold. It was that to which
the Government pledged itself in its contract with the National
Bank of the Republic of Haiti. Article 12 of the contract with the
bank runs as follows: " For the purpose of promoting transactions
by stabilizing currency, the Government undertakes to establish in
the country a national monetary unit on a gold standard ".
It was for the purpose of achieving that result that the Haitian
people underwent the costly sacrifice of the loan of 1910. The Finan-
cial Adviser's proposal would lead us to adopt as the sole national
currency the paper money consisting of notes issued by the bank.
Those notes are legal tender under the contract of concession with
the bank and under the convention of August [April?] 12, 1919.26
No new law is required to impart that character to them.
B.-Law providing for long-term leases
The bill relative to long-term leases was not proposed by the
Department of State of the United States. It was drawn up by the
'5 Rev. Stat. 696; 31 Stat. 45.
' Convention of Apr. 12, 1919, printed in Foreign Relations, 1919, vol. ii,
p. 362.

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