Minister Dawson to the Secretary of State.
Santo Domingo, June 9, 1906.
Sir: Referring to the subject of my No. 253, of June 2, the sugar-production tax, I have the honor to report that on the 5th instant I had a short and informal talk with the minister of finance on the subject of the sale of sugar from Mr. Bass’s estate in satisfaction of the judgment against him rendered May 14. The minister said that the Government desired to keep alive its rights under this judgment, but not unnecessarily embarrass the resident managers. He was willing that only a nominal amount of sugar should be sold at present and to entertain a proposition looking to the payment of the arrears in installments, but not a proposition to receive less than the legal tax. His duty as an administrative officer was confined to collecting the tax due under the law and the decision did not extend to accepting less than the amount so due.
Neither he nor the minister of foreign affairs said anything to me of negotiations pending in the United States between the Dominican minister resident and the sugar planters. My impression is that they had not then received news from Mr. Joubert that such negotiations were pending.
This morning I received from you the following telegram dated yesterday:
Washington, June 8, 1906.
In view of the pending negotiations of sugar-estate owners with Joubert regarding terms of payment of arrears of production tax you will urgently request Santo Domingo Government suspension of any proceedings of seizure and sale. We understand sugar of one estate advertised to be sold on the 10th instant.
I immediately called on the minister of foreign affairs, who sent for the minister of finance. Upon my making the request as instructed, the latter said that he had given orders that only a nominal amount—to wit, 500 bags—should be sold to-morrow; that his purpose was only to keep legally alive all the rights the Government had acquired against Mr. Bass by the decision of May 14; that he feared that the sale advertised for to-morrow could not be abandoned without destroying or weakening those rights; that he would consult the attorney-general as to the point, but feared that apart from the legal difficulties the time was too short to comply with your request.[Page 622]
The minister of finance also told me that a telegram had been received from Sr. Joubert submitting a proposition by the sugar planters to pay $100,000 in installments running over five years. This was not satisfactory; as he had said before, he was authorized to concede time but not to reduce the amount; only Congress could do the latter.
I thereupon wrote Mr. Stiernstam, Mr. Bass’s resident manager, informing him of the probable postponement of the sale. A copy of my letter is inclosed.
I also confirm my telegram to you as follows:
Santo Domingo, June 9, 1906.
Suspension of sugar sale promised. * * *
Since the minister of finance is going to Washington by way of New York to-night he will have an opportunity to see the estate owners in person and will come to a definite conclusion with them of this long-pending controversy.
I have, etc.,