New York Times, May 17, 1942.
Translation of release by the Vichy Government as the Text of an American note handed May 9 to Admiral Georges Robert, High Commissioner in the French West Indies, by Rear Admiral John H. Hoover, and the French reply.
The present French Chief of Government in Vichy having announced that he intends to follow a policy of wider collaboration with Germany, it is no longer possible for the United States Government to maintain the agreements concluded by Admirals Greenslade and Horne regarding French possessions in the Western Hemisphere. This agreement had previously been considered satisfactory.
Under these agreements, the French possessions might become bases for aggression on the part of the Axis, either on word given by the High Commissioner or through the arrival of a new High Commissioner. It is to be expected that Germany will exercise pressure to this effect.
These possessions are subject to the orders of M. Laval, which cannot be considered as representing the free will of the French. If certain conditions are fulfilled the Government of the United States is prepared to treat the High Commissioner in the West Indies and Guiana as the supreme authority in these possessions on behalf of France and under the French flag but acting independently of Vichy. The conditions follow:
1. Effective measures under American control for the immobilization of French warships and airplanes at present in the West Indies.
2. Effective control by American authorities of wireless and telegraphic communications and also of censorship of mail.
3. American control of commercial traffic and of travelers both on arrival and departure.
4. Limitation to policing needs of all activities of French military and naval forces.
5. French freighters at present immobilized in the West Indies to be placed at the disposal of the United States under equitable conditions.
6. The gold and governmental funds now in French possessions will be frozen to be utilized ultimately by the French people.
The text of the French answer to the American note:
1. In October, 1940, at a time when the United States was not at war, an accord was concluded between the French Government and that of the United States to fix, in function of events, the particular status of our American possessions-that is to say, St. Pierre and Miquelon, the West Indies and Guiana.
2. On May 9, 1942, the American Admiral Hoover, accompanied by Mr. Reber of the State Department, presented to Admiral Robert, High Commissioner of France in the West Indies, demands tending to modify this status.
3. These demands gravely threatened French sovereignty over the West Indies. Admiral Hoover declared that if they were not accepted the American Government no longer guaranteed this sovereignty.
4. The status obtaining since 1940 answered the essential interests of the two countries. It was reaffirmed and clarified last March by the two governments.
5. The French Government always respected its engagements, and no change in the constitution of the new government can lead it to modify this attitude.
6. Recent declarations made to Admiral Leahy established the fact that the Chief of Government not only never envisaged repudiating the engagements undertaken vis-à-vis the United States but, on the contrary, he affirmed in the clearest manner his wish to do nothing which could affect Franco-American relations.
7. The French Government protests this interference by the American Government in French internal politics. By casting doubt on official affirmations made in the name of the French Government the Department of State adopted an offensive attitude toward our country, which intends to maintain its liberty and the choice of its government.
8. The Federal Government, in acting as it has, commits toward the French people a grave error in psychology, arising no doubt from the manoeuvres of French émigrés and French rebels to their country, who are continuing in foreign lands those partisan struggles from which France has already suffered so much.
9. The Federal Government has just transmitted propositions that, if they were accepted, would have the effect of removing from the French Government, sole repository of national sovereignty, the exercise of its essential rights in colonies that have been French territory for three centuries.
10. The Federal Government, by refusing to Admiral Robert, the High Commissioner, the right to report on his administration to the only French authorities to which he is responsible, and by virtue of which he holds power, formulated demands which the French Government feels it is its duty to reject.