War, Cooperation, and Conflict: The European Possessions in the Caribbean, 1939-1945

By Fitzroy André Baptiste | Go to book overview

13
The French Caribbean in the War: November 1940 to November 1942

By the end of 1940 the United States had embarked on its Vichy Gamble around Maxime Weygand, Vichy delegate-general in French North Africa. In keeping with this policy, Robert Murphy, Washington's man in North Africa, concluded an accord with Weygand for economic assistance to North Africa. Under the accord, ratified by the Vichy government on March 10, 1941, all imported goods and similar products in North Africa were to be consumed locally and not re-exported, and there was to be no accumulation of surplus stocks in Morocco, Algeria, or Tunisia. Moreover, Vichy granted the United States the right to post representatives at ports and on railways in North Africa to ensure compliance with the terms of the agreement. Finally, the United States reserved the right to terminate the accord if the Vichy French failed to enforce the conditions.1

Earlier, in November 1940, the United States had reached a comparable accord with Vichy over the French Caribbean territories. Under the Robert-Greenslade Agreement, the United States undertook to maintain the essential economic life of the French Caribbean territories in return for guarantees from Vichy concerning the neutralization of the warships and other strategic resources mainly at Martinique.

These two United States/Vichy agreements intended that there be no linkage between the two trade and supply movements, namely United States-French North Africa and United States-French Caribbean. Linkage occurred, however, as a trade and supply movement from Martinique to French North Africa developed in the interim between the conclusion of the Robert-Greenslade Agreement and that of the Murphy-Weygand Accord. This United States-French Caribbean-French North Africa trade and supply movement, termed the Martinique Leak by the British, derived partly from the United States' desire to increase the capability of the French Caribbean authorities to pay for the United States supplies under the economic clauses of the Robert-Greenslade Agreement.

Beginning on January 1, 1941, the United States Treasury Department agreed to authorize a license permitting the transfer

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