Mr. Dawson to Mr. Hay.
Santo Domingo, September 27, 1904.
Sir: Referring to the subject of former correspondence, the recognition of the financial agent of the United States appointed under the award of July 14, I herewith inclose copies of letters from the financial agent to the minister of hacienda and to myself.
The letter addressed to me reports an interview had by Mr. Abbott with President Morales, in which the latter stated that the amounts due under the award for the current month could not be met by the Dominican Government, and suggested that Mr. Abbott’s formal demand for possession of the custom-house at Puerto Plata might as well be made at once. The letter to the minister of hacienda constitutes such demand.
I have further to report that on the 23d instant the minister of foreign affairs requested an immediate interview with me, in the course of which he said that the President and himself and other members of the cabinet, although that body was not unanimous, were of the opinion that it was best to accept the award in spite of the fact that constitutional and other objections might be urged against its provisions. One of their reasons for this conclusion was the guaranty that would be afforded against revolutionary seizure if one or more custom-houses should be in the hands of a financial agent appointed and protected by and responsible to the American Government. He added, however, that the revenues from all the custom-houses would not be sufficient to pay the running expenses of the administration, the $450,000 under the award, and the other yearly obligations to creditors, and that therefore the Dominican Government felt that it was necessary to receive a guaranty as to the amount required for its budget before allowing the financial agent to take actual possession. He suggested that 60 per cent of the gross revenue be set aside for the Government’s ordinary running expenses, and gave me to understand without saying so categorically that otherwise they would not put Mr. Abbott in possession on October 1, and would present reasons to the American Government why the award seems to the Dominican Government unconstitutional and not capable of being executed in its present form.
I answered that I was not authorized to discuss the validity of the award, and that I regarded it as conclusive and binding; that the arbitral commission must be presumed to have considered the facts bearing upon the adequacy of custom-house receipts to meet the expenses and other requirements of the Dominican Government to which he had just called my attention; that a collateral agreement such as he proposed would be in effect a modification of the award, and that I could not hold out to him any hopes that my Government [Page 281]would enter upon negotiations having as their object that or any other modification. I added, however, that I thought the Dominican Government need have no fears lest a financial agent of the United States would execute the award in such a way as to take away the revenue necessary for the maintenance of the administration, and if when put into practical operation it should be found impossible to pay the full amount without crippling the Government and endangering its ability to maintain order the question of reducing those payments might reasonably be raised, but not at the present time. With this assurance he did not appear satisfied, but it seems to me, and I so said to him, that a more definite one is not possible.
Later I discussed with Mr. Abbott the practicability and advisability of his giving in his private capacity as representative of the improvement company an assurance that a certain minimum sum should be turned over to this Government out of the revenues of the ports mentioned in the award. He deems it unwise, and his reasons for so thinking seem to me good.
In an interview to-day the minister of foreign affairs asked me to use my good offices with Mr. Abbott in securing his consent to delay the execution of the award for two months or even one. I answered that such an arrangement would be a modification of the award which neither Mr. Abbott nor myself would be authorized to make.
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I have, etc.,