File No. 839.51/1483.
The Dominican Minister to the Secretary of State.
Washington, January 20, 1915.
Mr. Secretary: In compliance with my Governments instructions and in continuation of what I said to Mr. Bingham at our interview on the 15th of this month, I have the honor to submit to your high consideration the views and purposes of the Dominican Government in the matter of appointing customs officers of the Republic.
President Jiménes understands, and I take pleasure in so saying, that the efficiency of that service must find its main foundation in the most perfect harmony between the Government and the receivership. The Government for its part will not be lacking in interest toward attaining that end.
It is meet that we recall that the high customs officials possess a dual character; as interventors they represent the Government that appoints them; as receivers appointed by the receivership, they represent the receiver general. That dual representative character can only be made possible by agreement between those who grant it.
Other employees in each customhouse do not represent the receivership and, consequently, they are appointed by the President of the Dominican Republic who takes into account not only the political interests of which he is the representative and leader, but also the efficiency of the customs service. It may be that, in the past three years, owing to the baneful conditions that prevailed in the Republic and the successive changes of. Provisional Governments, appointments were made that were not satisfactory, but those conditions no [Page 301]longer prevail and we have to deal with a settled Government that will devote its earnest attention to the organization of all the public services and will not stint its aid to the receiver general for the greater efficiency of the customs service.
In that sense and in evidence of its decided interest in restoring and maintaining a good organization of the customs service, the Government of President Jiménes will not force upon the receivership employees that are objectionable or who are obviously incompetent for the posts to which they may be nominated, but the Government cannot acquiesce in and feels it its duty to oppose the attitude recently assumed by Mr. Baxter, receiver general of customs, who for and by himself conferred upon himself powers that never were wielded by his predecessors, because they belong to the Dominican Government alone. President Jiménes, for the sake of cooperating in the establishment of an able customs department, will give his best attention to such recommendations as may be offered to him by the receiver general, but he will not renounce or relinquish his right to appoint the employees. That right has never been disputed but has always been recognized (see page 23 of the Sixth Annual Report of October 20, 1913, of Walker W. Vick) by the predecessors of Mr. Baxter, who recently declined to recognize it not only by rejecting appointments made by the President of the Republic, but also in issuing regulations by which he establishes, in two paragraphs, civil service rules in the Dominican customs.
The Dominican Government does not dispute the desirability of the system which the receiver general wants to establish but holds that the system will be good when it is valid and not before, that is to say when it is set up by the juridical person and that is competent to do so, and the Government alone is so competent.
Neither can the Government yield to the desire expressed by Mr. Baxter that political considerations shall have no weight in the appointment of customs officers. It is very well for Mr. Baxter to insist upon efficient men being nominated, but it is President Jiménes’ duty to reward his friends with offices, and the mere circumstance that an officer has been in the customs service several years does not afford sufficient reason for his retention in office, especially in the case of a person belonging to the opposition who fought President Jiménes at the last elections and whose place may be given to an honorable and competent person.
It is proper to remark that the attitude assumed by the receiver general is not only embarrassing to the administration of President Jiménes but is also openly antagonistic to the purposes of the Department of State. The aid and support that have been repeatedly offered amount to nothing if the officers of the Government of the United States at Santo Domingo strive to obstruct the Government.
The Government of President Jiménes would be very much gratified if Mr. Baxter were instructed through the proper channel not to exceed his powers and to try in that way to preserve the harmony that must exist between the Government and the receivership and if he were directed at the same time to withdraw his civil service regulations which the Government may establish in accord with him.
I renew [etc.]