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Self-Determining Haiti by James Weldon Johnson

An official attached to the Ministry of Finance


1. Ways and Means 2. Foreign Relations 3. Finance and Commerce 4. Interior

On Monday, July 12, at 3.30, the hour agreed upon between the ministers and the Adviser, the ministers met to continue the study of the budget which they wanted to finish quickly.... Between 4 and 4:30 the Secretary of Finance received a letter from the Adviser which reads as follows:

"I find myself obliged to stop all study of the budget until certain affairs of considerable importance for the welfare of the country shall have been finally settled according to the recommendations made by me to the Haitian Government.

"Please accept, Mr. Secretary, the assurance of my highest consideration, JOHN MCILHENNY"

Such an unanticipated and unjustifiable decision on the part of Mr. McIlhenny, an official attached to the Ministry of Finance, caused the whole Government profound surprise and warranted dissatisfaction....

On July 13 the Department of Finance replied to the Financial Adviser as follows:

"I beg to acknowledge your letter of July 12, in which you say, 'I find myself obliged, etc....'

"In taking note of this declaration, the importance

and gravity of which certainly cannot escape you, I can only regret in the name of the Government:

"1. That you omitted to tell me with the precision which such an emergency demands what are the affairs of an importance so considerable for the welfare of the country and the settlement of which, according to the recommendations made by you, is of such great moment that you can subordinate to that settlement the continuation of the work on the budget?

"2. That you have taken such a serious step without considering that in so doing you have divested yourself of one of the essential functions which devolves upon you as Financial Adviser attached to the Department of Finance.

"The preparation of the budget of the state constitutes one of the principal obligations of those intrusted with it by law, because the very life of the nation depends upon its elaboration. The Legislature has been in session since April 5 last. By the Constitution the draft budgets and the general accounts should be submitted to the legislative body within eight days after the opening of the session, that is to say by April 13. The draft budgets were sent to your office on March 22.

"By reason of your absence from the country, the examination of these drafts was postponed, the acting Financial Adviser not being willing to shoulder the responsibility; we refer you to his letters of March 29 and of April 17 and 24. Finally ... you came back to Port-au-Prince, and after some two weeks, you began with the secretaries to study the draft budgets.

"The Government therefore experiences a very disagreeable surprise on reading your letter of July 12. It becomes my duty to inform you of that disagreeable surprise, to formulate the legal reservations in the case, and to inform you finally that you bear the sole responsibility for the failure to present the budget in due time. "FLEURY FEQUIERE, Secretary of Finance"


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