Minister Dawson to the Secretary of State.
Santo Domingo , March 7, 1906 .
Sir: I have the honor to report that on the 27th ultimo, being the anniversary of Dominican independence, the usual official exercises were held, and Congress assembled and listened to the reading of his annual message by the President.
President Caceres’s message is a shorter and more businesslike document than most messages of Dominican Presidents. Still, it contains much rhetoric, and most of the suggestions are rather vague and generalized.
The more important points touched upon are: Insurrectionary movements, whose prevalence hitherto he attributes to atavism, the selfishness, ignorance of administration and lack of patriotism of the ruling class, and to the neglect of agriculture. He announces the existence of complete peace in the Republic except at Dajabon, and promises that the bandits under arms there will soon be compelled to surrender. This promise has since been fulfilled.
He recommends the amendment of the constitution without specifying the particular defects he has in mind. I understand that the providing of a mode of selecting a Vice-President in a situation like the present one is considered urgent, and that many advocate extending the President’s prerogatives. Under the actual constitution his sole legal prerogative is to select or dismiss the cabinet which exercises all executive functions.
He also recommends a general revision of the laws relating to government administration and of the school laws, giving especial attention to practical subjects.
He refers in general terms to the advisability of encouraging immigration and of guarding against the danger of the national type being overwhelmed. He thinks the two objects can best be reconciled by a system of colonies. He urges the immediate necessity of organizing the rural guard and artillery corps, the police, and the navy.
Speaking of foreign relations, he says:
The relations of the Republic with foreign nations are those of the sincerest cordiality. Paying its debts, respecting foreign rights, defending our own rights with firmness and discretion, the Republic will live in peace with all nations. To attain the maximum of economic power is the ambition of all [Page 569] great peoples. The conquest of world markets is the fight in which the productive races are expending their energies. The Republic ought to take advantage of this conflict of interests to make treaties which will enable us to dispose of our products with positive advantages.
The convention signed February 7, 1905, is now submitted to the vote of this house and of the Senate of the United States. You know its antecedents; you can intelligently consider its consequences; and, following the dictates of your patriotism, determine upon its ratification or rejection. It has not been the will of the Executive that has brought us to the grief of making this agreement, but an accumulation of circumstances that have arisen from the errors of all. As to this matter being exhausted by necessity we are in the position of needing to make sacrifices for the payment of our debts and the preservation of our independence.
Speaking of the financial situation and the modus vivendi he says:
Peculation and extraordinary military expenditures have been the bottomless pits in which the nation’s wealth has disappeared. To chaos has now succeeded regularity. During the last year our receipts have covered the appropriations made by the law of public expenditures, and on December 31, 1905, the deposit in the National Bank of New York amounted to $815,027.13 gold—a sum destined to the payment of the interest and amortization of our debts.
The department will not fail to note this statement which shows that for the first time in its history the Dominican Government has been running without a deficit, and this in spite of the setting aside of more than half its revenues for debts, and the breaking out of a formidable though short lived insurrection on the occasion of Morales’s abandoning the Presidency. Many of the officers and perhaps some of the troops which took part in suppressing this insurrection have, however, not yet received the pay and rewards to which they think they are entitled.
The President closed his message expressing the hope that public opinion, seeing the folly of such fractricidal strife, would prevent new disorder breaking out; and the promise that during his term the victorious party would not engage in punishing the vanquished, but would devote itself to the consolidation of peace and prosperity.
After the formal opening of Congress and the reading of the President’s message the President, cabinet, Congress, and the diplomatic and consular corps assisted at a te deum in the cathedral. Returning to the government palace the President drank the usual toast to foreign nations and the other branches of the Government. Monsieur Louis Borno, minister plenipotentiary of Haiti, as dean of the diplomatic corps, responded on its behalf. He expressed very gracefully the customary compliments, adding his opinion that it was useless for weak nations to expend their resources in the maintenance of armies and fleets with the purpose of defending themselves against foreign aggression.
I regret that I have not had time to make a translation of all the message for the department’s use, but believe I have given above the important points. A copy is inclosed, and the translation I will try to prepare and forward by the next mail.
I have, etc.,