File No. 839.032/1.
Gentlemen of the Congress: Our relations with friendly nations have been maintained on a plane of equality and corresponding reciprocity, with nothing to regret in that sense except the difficulty with the Republic of Haiti in December of last year, and the hasty demand made on us by the Government of Italy in regard to the acquisition by the Government of the Santo Domingo dock and wharf concession.
The question with Haiti arose about a road which we ordered to be opened from the mouth of the Pedernales River to the southern bank of the Lake of Fondo, for the purpose of facilitating the transit of the frontier, guard in their duty for the prevention of contraband trade on the southern frontier.
When these works had advanced somewhat along the eastern side of the river and near a place called Cabeza de Agua, the Haitian Government protested against the opening of the road and sent troops along the western bank of the Pedernales River to prevent the continuance of the work, alleging that said road was a boundary line which the Dominican Government was making in violation of the territorial rights of the neighboring Republic.
In the face of this threatening attitude of the Government of Haiti, which had even placed guards on our side, the Executive Power decided to dispatch an army corps well provisioned and equipped to the Pedernales frontier in order to be ready for any possible aggression which might impair our sovereignty, until the situation could be cleared up and there could be a definite statement of the right of the Dominican Government to do whatever it pleased on its own soil.
There was no necessity for a rupture, nor was it logical to expect it, since the common interests of both countries demand harmonious and reciprocal relations, and as probably neither the one nor the other would derive from a frontier war any advantage sufficient to compensate for the damages which would result from such a rupture.
At the proposal of Haiti there was named by both Governments a mixed commission to go to the place in question and investigate on the ground whether the Dominican forces sent to Pedernales had really encroached on Haitian territory, and if the road in question was within Dominican jurisdiction; but said commission had to terminate [Page 139] its conferences, scarcely begun, on account of a substantial difference that had arisen between the two commissions as to the scope of the functions that had been given by the respective Governments.
At this point the Government of Haiti asked us to withdraw the forces which we had at Pedernales and to submit to arbitration the general question of our frontier boundaries. For this purpose, and at the request of the Haitian Government, the Government of the United States of North America hastened to proffer its good offices “in its earnest desire that peace should be preserved and a settlement both just and honorable of the present dispute between the two Republics should be reached.”
In the face of this disagreeable incident it seems to me that we should no longer delay a formal and definite settlement of our frontier question with the neighboring Republic of Haiti; and I think the moment is propitious for working to secure once and for all that peace so necessary for the two nations that share the dominion of the island, and whose differences might give rise to very grave conflicts and international complications, which we must foresee and avoid, working for a lofty national interest which we should not disregard nor view with criminal indifference. Our forefathers made the country, employing all their energies and making all the sacrifices which those times and conditions permitted them. We must now try to preserve that work, undertaken with such efforts and sacrifices, and carry it on to a successful end, decorously and triumphantly.
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