Minister Dawson to the Secretary of State.
Santo Domingo, January 29, 1906.
Sir: Continuing the subject of my No. 205 of the 17th instant, the collection of the sugar-production tax, I have the honor to report that on the 25th instant the ministers for foreign affairs called me in for a verbal conference with him and the minister of finance in regard to my note to the former of January 17. (See inclosure with No. 205 of January 17.)
It seemed that the minister of finance was inclined to think the terms used therein too comprehensive. He called my attention to the fact that the only suit now pending is the one against W. L. Bass, and said that he feared the other producers would not consent to be bound by the decision in that case. As against Bass or any producer consenting to abide by the decision, he was willing to waive the Government’s right to levy a judicial attachment or enforce the tax by a seizure of sugars, but he did not understand that, in the case of a decision in the Bass case in favor of the Government, the other producers ought to be exempted from any legal consequence of suits which the Government might be forced to bring against them.
In other words, if he wins the suit against Bass he does not want to be obliged to bring a succession of suits involving the same question against the other planters, suits in which he could not attach sugar, thus permitting the planters to decline to pay or give security until each of the suits shall be decided in the court of the last resort.
I told him that I did not think it was the intention of the planters to filibuster or undergo the expense incident to a series of suits undertaken merely for delay. I would ask the department to ascertain from those of them who had invoked its friendly intervention whether they would consent to abide by the decision in the Bass case. I added that if the decision were adverse to the planters the payment of the tax would, nevertheless, be under protest, and be made without prejudice to whatever right it may hereafter appear they have to institute judicial or diplomatic proceedings to recover damages for the breach of the exemption contract of December, 1903. The ministers [Page 612]then renewed their assurances that no seizure of sugars would be made pending the decision of the Bass case, at least until they were advised by me that the other planters would continue to refuse payment after it may have been decided in favor of the Government.
I therefore respectfully suggest that the department ascertain from Messrs. Kelly and Bartram Brothers their position with reference to the Bass suit.
Inclosed you will find a copy and a translation of Señor Tejera’s reply to my note of the 17th and a copy of a note from me confirming the conversation above referred to.
I have, etc.,