Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1920, Volume II
The Secretary of the Navy (Daniels) to the Secretary of State
Sir: I have the honor to forward herewith, for the information of the Department of State, a copy of a report by the Military Governor of Santo Domingo for the period April 1, 1920, to June 30, 1920.
Quarterly Report of the Military Governor of Santo Domingo (Snowden)
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3. The Military Government continues to progress satisfactorily in carrying out its mission. Reference (n),3 copy enclosed, outlines the mission and accomplishments to date and the work yet to be completed by the Military Government in this country before the Occupation of the Dominican Republic can be safely terminated. It is believed that a period of at least ten years will be necessary for the completion of the mission of the Military Government.
Organized resistance to the Military Government having been ended by military activities and an example of good government peaceful conditions continue to prevail throughout the Republic. The maintenance of these peaceful conditions is absolutely essential to the development of this country and the accomplishment of the mission of the Military Government and endeavor will be made to secure the continuance of these conditions by the use of every means under the command of the Military Government. Patrolling [Page 121]throughout the Republic by the Marines and the Guardia has been performed extensively for the purpose of quelling any incipient disturbances and to combat the existence of a few small bands of common outlaws. These outlaws are for the most part malcontents and vagabonds who operate in the thinly settled districts, robbing their own people when an opportunity presents itself. Patrolling has resulted in five engagements with twelve casualties among the outlaws and none among the Marines and Guardia. The efficiency of the Guardia is improving greatly and they are doing excellent work in patrolling, capturing criminals, confiscating arms, guarding the border and in general performing the work of a constabulary. The Brigade continues to be under strength and it is recommended that sufficient troops be sent at the earliest possible time to bring the strength up to 2,950. The health of the troops has been excellent.
The former political factional parties and old revolutionary politicians have multiplied their endeavors to obtain the termination of the Military Government and the return of Dominican sovereignty to their hands and due to the abolishing of the censorship and the granting of full free speech, right of assembly and publication, etc., they have been able to spread much dangerous propaganda. The only restrictions placed on speakers, writers and publishers are the prohibitive measures of Executive Order No. 385, which provides for the punishment of offenders by Military Court for speaking, writing or publishing speeches or articles which tend to cause unrest and agitation and to urge the people to revolt. However, the Military Government has been extremely lenient toward the writers and publishers in its interpretation of Executive Order No. 385, and consequently articles of rapidly increasing violence and hostility toward the United States and the Military Government have been published, in spite of repeated warnings to the publishers. These articles caused a marked increase of unrest and agitation throughout the Republic extending even to the small farmers, many of whom fearing the retirement of the Military Government and the consequent revolutions and loss of the fruit of their labors, abandoned their farms and went into a state of vagabondage. The violence and hostility of articles and speeches and the resulting agitation reached its height in a so called patriotic week for the collection of funds to be used presumably for the restoration of Dominican sovereignty either by peaceful measures or by force of arms. The celebration of this week was not interfered with in any way, but it was then decided by the Military Governor that in order to insure the maintenance of peaceful conditions essential for the carrying out of the mission and reforms of the Military Government it was necessary to take immediate and decisive action to check the above [Page 122]mentioned agitation. As a result several writers and publishers who have written and published the most hostile articles tending to stir the people to revolt and who have most flagrantly violated the provisions of Executive Order No. 385, have been arrested and are being tried by Military Courts. The effect produced by these arrests and trials has been excellent. A marked decrease in agitation has been noted and the people, having lost faith in the predictions of the early return of Dominican sovereignty made by these men, are settling down to the peaceful pursuit of their occupations. It is hoped that this will prove a lesson to the incendiary speakers and writers and prevent another effort on their part to stir up the people to revolt against the Military Government.
4. Customs collections for the three months ending June 30, 1920, amounted to $1,761,988.36 against $994,364.30 for the corresponding period of 1919, a gain of $776,624.06. This gives a total collection for the first six months of 1920 of $3,421,000.00 against a total of $1,970,432.01 for the first six months of 1919. This indicates the great stimulation given to importations by the Tariff Revision made effective January 1, 1920, especially when it is considered that many articles now pay no duty whatever.
The number of vessels visiting Dominican ports during the past quarter has again exceeded the records of the preceding period of 1919. We now have three principal lines carrying freight in competition which are affording a very much better service to the Dominican people than they have received in the past. Freight is being more carefully handled, claims are fewer and steamers more frequent. The Military Government continued its efforts to obtain a reduction in the surcharge applied to shipments for the Port of Puerto Plata. It has continued negotiations with the Clyde Steamship Company and also with the Columbus Steamship Line and has every reason to believe that its efforts will be rewarded with success during the coming quarter. It has succeeded in having favorable recommendations made and the action of the head offices in the United States is the only thing remaining necessary before reductions are put in effect. The steady increase in trade is such as to crowd the present port facilities and to make it necessary that improvements now under way be hurried to completion as well as to let plans for future additions and betterments to be prepared.
The Banks have now collected approximately $70,000. in the old Dominican silver coins. While the price of silver has gone down it is still possible to market these coins at a small profit. It is desirable to replace this debased currency with United States currency and accordingly a shipment will go forward about the end of July.[Page 123]
The trial Food Control Store, Santo Domingo City, for the sale of the essential articles of provision only, has been successful and has also served as a check on profiteering by the regular retailers. A new store will shortly be established at San Pedro de Macoris and it is planned to establish one at Santiago as soon as the necessary building and personnel can be obtained.
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The collections of Internal Revenue have continued to increase being $1,182,546.95 for the past quarter, making a total collection for the first six months of 1920, $2,167,592.42 against collections of $1,285,812.56 for the first six months of 1919. The collections for this period have been increased by the sum of $194,320.54 collected in 1920 but applying under the property tax which was due for payment during 1919. The collections for the 1919 property tax are not all in yet nor will they be for some considerable time since the first re-appraisement of property in the Dominican Republic has not been completed. This appraisement is being pushed as rapidly as suitable men can be trained for the task, but the amount of work involved is naturally great, since no appraisement of real estate and improvements thereon had ever been made in the Republic heretofore. However, it may be stated that the collections from Internal Revenue for the year 1920 from taxes due in 1920 will, it may be confidently stated, exceed the estimate made at the end of 1919 by over one million dollars.
The public finances of the country are in excellent shape and it has been possible to appropriate large amounts for new activities and for public works from the surplus receipts over expenditures. Pubic works that have already been completed are showing returns in the increased commerce of the country and in the clearing and agricultural development of the land which can be seen on all sides. The necessity for hurrying forward the completion of the roads and bridges now under project as well as the various buildings, etc., is of the utmost importance. It is believed that the expenditures now planned for such improvements will be returned to the Treasury in increased revenues in a period of from five to not more than ten years after the completion of the projects.
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There are now being prepared a new Ley de Hacienda, a new Banking Law, a new Negotiable Instruments Law and an amendment to the Property Tax Law. These will all be completed and ready for consideration of the Military Governor early in the coming quarter.
In accordance with the Military Governor’s policy attention is being given to the reclaiming of property of the Government in [Page 124]this vicinity and especially the property in the commercial section of the River Ozama, which though formerly belonging to the Government has been given away by past Dominican administrations or leased for long periods at nominal rents, or in other cases has been occupied by squatters. This property is now needed or will be needed in the very near future for the development of the Port of Santo Domingo City. One property has already been procured, while negotiations upon another parcel will be completed in a comparatively few days. The other properties are now under investigation and as rapidly as possible will be obtained by settlement with the present owners or lessees where a favorable settlement can be made or if necessary, by expropriation for the use of the State.
In the last report the statement was made that the bonds of the 1918 loan were selling at a price as low as 75, much below their true value. These bonds have been selling during the past quarter at as high as 87.5, which is a little less than at 6% income basis. This has undoubtedly been due to the large purchases for the sinking fund made necessary by the increase in customs receipts and to the fact that the redemption of the loan is now in sight. With the United States borrowing money on certificates of indebtedness at 6% and with the industrials selling upon a 7.5 and 8% basis the figures at which our bonds are quoted may be considered as indicating the high credit which the Military Government has been successful in establishing for the Dominican Republic, and, in view of the fact that about the first of the coming year it will be necessary to negotiate a loan for additional funds to complete the public works program, it is decidedly pleasing to see our bonds selling at what may be considered a very high price.
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During the period covered by this report, anti-prostitution work has been more vigorously carried on. The Guardia National, in accordance with Article 73 Ley de Sanidad, have rendered very valuable and active assistance in this respect. This work of the Guardia has not only caused a more general and complete rounding up of commercial and clandestine prostitutes, the great majority of whom were found to be infected with venereal disease, but it has caused an increased activity along this line by the municipal police and sanitary officials. Many foreign women convicted of prostitution have been deported.
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During the period covered by this report, Executive Order No. 476 providing for administrative fines to be imposed by the Secretary of Sanitation for violations of the sanitary law and regulations, was promulgated. It is expected that this will be of material assistance in the enforcement of same.[Page 125]
The same order makes the testimony of a sanitary officer prima facie evidence.
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16. Education. Reform in secondary and normal schools: On the 30th of June the Department of Public Instruction issued regulations and instructions which are intended to effect a complete reform in the curriculum and methods of instruction of secondary and normal schools. For over a year a test has been carried on in several schools to determine whether it was feasible to operate such a change to advantage. Careful study of conditions had demonstrated the undesirability of the system of organization previously in existence. Secondary schools were offering a course of study of an encyclopedical nature, with the result that in a single school year the student was compelled to take as many as twenty different subjects. Under such conditions it was impossible to make a thorough study of the principal subjects properly pertaining to the secondary schools, no vocational courses could be offered, and no laboratory work in physical or natural sciences could be thought of. Normal schools were in a similar condition. Prospective teachers were given a theoretical training, but when they were out of the normal school, confronting living conditions in the schools to which they were assigned, little utility could they derive from their long training.
The new system aims at changing verbal education for a real, effective and purposeful training of pupils which will allow them to fit advantageously in the society for which they are intended. The course of study has been organized on the elective principle. Vocational subjects have been introduced, and laboratory work in all branches requiring it has been made compulsory. The superficiality of the old system has been done away with an[d] modern methods of education have been implanted as far as possible.
Under the new organization, high schools will offer classical, commercial and scientific courses for boys and girls, and a course in domestic science for the latter.
School finances: The Military Government has made an additional appropriation of $110,000. to supplement the school funds of several poor municipalities of the country. The Government having adopted the policy that all expenses for salaries of employees of the school service, including school authorities and teachers of all grades, are to be provided for with national funds, and all expenditures for rentals of school houses, janitors, school furniture and supplies, and other similar necessities, are to be provided for by the municipalities, it happened that some poor municipalities could not provide their part in the growing proportion that the Government was providing teachers. It was necessary, therefore, [Page 126]to come to their rescue, and this has been accomplished by the appropriation here referred to.
It is expected that for the future all municipalities will be able to take care of themselves, they having been empowered to collect a land tax which will suffice for their needs.
An arrangement has been made to increase the salaries of teachers and principals of rural schools from $40 to $55 a month. It was not considered advisable to make this increase payable monthly together with the original salary, for one of the aims in making it has been to prevent the abandonment of the schools by the teachers in the course of the school year. It has therefore been provided that the increase will be paid in the form of a bonus every six months, and that any teachers who without reasonable cause leaves the service before the end of any such six monthly periods will forfeit their claim to the bonus.
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17. The relations between the Military Government and the representatives of the State Department and of the Receiver General of Customs have continued to be cordial and pleasant. The cooperation of these representatives is appreciated.
The Military Governor of Santo Domingo (Snowden) to the Secretary of the Navy (Daniels)4
MISSION AND RESULTS OF MILITARY GOVERNMENT
1. The Chief of the Bureau of Latin-American Affairs recently asked certain questions of Lieut. Commander Ralph Whitman, C.E.C., U.S.N., one of the Aids of the Military Governor, and which that officer was not fully prepared to answer. There is, therefore, submitted the following information covering the questions asked:
Referring to the mission of the Military Government: “What steps have been taken to place the country in such a condition that the government could safely be turned over to the Dominican people?”
2. The Military Government has set the country an unassailable example of good government, free from graft, giving a square deal to all, and administration absolutely above reproach.
3. It has issued comprehensive sanitary and drug laws, and regulations in minute manner, covering all sanitary activities throughout [Page 127]the republic. It has its sanitary officials in every section and is establishing hospitals and dispensaries everywhere possible.
4. It has organized the collection of the internal revenue of the country and these collections have now assumed much greater importance increasing under honest efficient management from an average of $700,000.00 prior to the occupation to $3,492,641.48 in 1919 with estimated receipts for 1920 of $4,450,996.52. Certain taxes bearing unfairly upon the poor and acting as a drag to business in general have been eliminated and in their place the Government has established the tax on property—the first attempt at direct taxation in the Dominican Republic. To meet the additional expenses of the Government incident to the higher cost of services and materials and for the development of the Government Executive Departments and activities to permit of a more efficient service to the people and the extension of greater aid to public instruction, agriculture, road building, sanitation, etc., the Government is studying new forms of taxation for future promulgation with the object of placing this slight additional burden upon those best able to bear it.
The Government has revised the customs tariff of 1910 and placed upon the free list transportation media, agricultural machinery and tools, industrial machinery, building material and in general all articles necessary to the development of the republic. The rates of duty have been greatly reduced on articles of necessity where the reductions would assist in lowering the cost of living.
That this action has been for the best interests of the country is evident when it is known that it has resulted in an increase in importations during the first five months of its operation amounting in tons of cargo imported to 35,660 or 70% while following the rule of tariff revision the increase of volume of importations even at the reduced rates has resulted in record customs collections.
The methods of the Treasury Department have been revolutionized; graft, dishonesty and inefficiency with which the former treasury organization was honeycombed have been eliminated. The Contaduria has been reorganized and the final step is about to be taken by the division of the duties of the Contador between a Treasurer and an Auditor with efficient staffs. Arrangements are being concluded for the necessary reform of the communal accounting systems and from July 1, 1920, their accounts will be made uniform and so rendered as to permit of an efficient audit by the Auditor of the Republic.
The settlement of the floating debt of the republic in an equitable and just manner has just been completed. Inasmuch as there were approximately 9,000 claims filed and as the records of the treasury were inadequate, involved and in some cases had been falsified, it is easy to imagine the amount of work involved. A resumé of the [Page 128]work just finished by the Dominican Claims Commission of 1917 is given below:
|Total number of claims filed||9029|
|Total amount of claims filed||$14,622,644.05|
|Claims definitely disposed of:|
|Without the jurisdiction of the Commission||86||401,959.12|
|Rejected items of adjusted claims||1,289,260.07|
|Deducted items of adjusted claims||1,534,006.53|
|The total amount of the awards has been liquidated as follows:|
|Cash paid in lieu of bonds of Series “L” $50. denomination||129.800.00|
|Cash paid in settlement of fractional amounts of less than $50||125,757.91|
The payments on the bonded indebtedness of the republic have been regularly made and in such amounts that it is now evident that the $20,000,000. Customs Administration Loan made in 1908 will be paid off by 1925 instead of 1958, i.e., 33 years before due. The $4,000,000. bond issue of 1918 will be paid off by December 31, 1922, instead of its due date 1938, i.e., 16 years before due. This progress has been assisted materially by the assistance and encouragement given to commerce by the Government. As a means to improve the condition of Dominican products exported, the export duty has been conditionally removed when the products are properly prepared and packed for shipment while a standard labelling has been adopted for the important product, cacao, and the improvement in its condition has received favorable comment in the New York market. Every effort has been made to improve transportation facilities for the commerce both ocean and inland, with considerable success.
The careful conserving of the public funds has permitted many millions to be assigned from the surplus for appropriation for the building of roads, schools, public buildings, and port improvements. Every effort is being bent to the prompt completion of the roads which will open much needed communication between all parts of the republic and permit of the development of the interior.[Page 129]
This program must go ahead and arrangements are being perfected to secure the necessary funds for its prompt prosecution.
The properties of the State are gradually being placed in good condition and warehouse facilities at all ports have been and are being gradually increased.
The regulation of weights and measures so necessary to honest business, especially in the small retail establishments dealing with the poor people is about to be undertaken. A trial Food Control store at Santo Domingo City has been successful and additional stores will be established elsewhere. This store not only sells to the poor at very reasonable prices but more important still effectually acts as a check on profiteering by the regular retailers.
5. It has greatly advanced the education of the young people and is following comprehensive plans for providing schools and teachers so that every child of school age in the country shall have instruction. There are 200,000 of these children; 130,000 have now been supplied with schools and each year we expect to provide new schools and additional teachers until all the children of school age are under instruction. Then the intermediate grades between the primary schools and the University will be supplied in as many places as they may be needed.
At present those grades which constitute secondary education, are provided for by means of two large official high schools of the composite type, and about six private secondary schools.
Along with the high schools, provision has been made for normal training for prospective teachers, and as a result the Military Government has been able to supply the recently established primary schools with trained teachers.
Vocational instruction is offered in both primary and secondary schools.
Special schools for professional training have been established with success in the leading towns, but only the girls have been taken care of in this kind of schools, as it has not been possible to equip them with the expensive apparatus required for manual training schools for boys. However, something has been done in the way of providing special manual training facilities for boys in the two Correctional Schools now in operation, in which children desiring to follow the special professional courses are admitted even if not belonging to the school as inmates. There are five private commercial schools, two of which receive economical aid from the Military Government.
As soon as funds are available special art and craft schools for boys will be established in the leading towns of the country. It is also expected that wherever a school building is erected provision [Page 130]will be made in it for manual training so as to make this aspect of education really universal.
A college of Agriculture is being organized in connection with the Agricultural Experiment Station in Haina, near the city of Santo Domingo. Instructions in agriculture is furnished in all the rural schools of the country; in these rural schools agricultural gardens are being formed for practical teaching.
The University has been completely reorganized. Laboratories are being provided, and a good library is under formation.
Eighteen modern school buildings, costing approximately $800,000 are either under construction or are included in the building program for 1920, while it is the ambition of the Government to expend $1,000,000 in 1921 for similar purposes.
The total enrollment of pupils in the republic in 1917 amounted to about 12,000, while in 1920 it amounts to approximately 110,000.
It is most vital to the future good government of the country that the people should be taught to understand their civil duties and the value and power of the vote, to fulfill these duties in a patriotic manner.
At present the percentage of illiteracy is very large and it will take some years to educate the mass of the people up to the point of understanding their proper ideals and to carry them into effect through the vote.
6. It has provided for the construction of trunk highways connecting the north and south sides of the republic, and also the eastern and western portions. These projects are being rapidly carried to completion, the north and south highways being about 70% complete and about 62 kms. of the east and west highways are completed. Other portions of the east and west highways are in various stages of completion, over 70% of these highways now being passable by automobile.
The value of these trunk highways to the country will be considerable, as they will provide for the opening up of country for settlement and bring the separate portions of the country together, and will facilitate the transaction of business between the various parts of the republic.
It is dredging and greatly improving the harbors of the republic and providing better facilities for commerce, as well as providing improved regulations governing commerce.
It has improved the Post Office System, reducing greatly the time required for transmission of mail, as well as providing for the safe delivery of same. Arrangements are practically completed for the installation of a money order system between 18 offices in various parts of the republic and a 24 hour telephone service has been established at all telephone stations.[Page 131]
The Custom Houses have been improved in the various ports and a new one constructed in Santo Domingo City and in Puerto Plata.
The Government owned railroad has been repaired, new equipment purchased, and freight is now handled expeditiously.
A Geologic reconnaissance survey has been made of the Republic and a topographical survey is well under way.
Various buildings in the Republic have been remodelled and repaired, making them suitable for the use of the Government.
A law has been promulgated for the conservation and distribution of water in arid and semi-arid regions, and also a modern mining law is now in force.
7. It has enormously developed agriculture through the distribution of modern agricultural machinery and personal instruction by agricultural instructors throughout the Republic. Arrangements are practically completed for the opening of an Agricultural College to educate Dominicans for positions in charge of agricultural projects. The buildings are practically completed.
Pure bred stock has been imported to raise the quality of stock in the republic.
The immigration system has been placed on working basis and accurate records are now available containing complete information in reference to each immigrant.
A meteorological service has been established and rainfall data obtained from about 55 different points in the republic.
8. It has developed a General Land Law which will restore order out of chaos in the matter of the registration of land and the fixing of land titles. At present the mass of property holders, including the Government, do not know what property, if any, they really own; the original grants had been greatly involved, inheritance has further involved this, titles have been lost or destroyed by accident, fraudulent titles in great quantity have been manufactured, and it will require the new land courts at least five years to put this essential matter upon a sure basis.
9. Replying to the question, “What fundamental things are necessary for the completion of the work of the present occupation before the Military Government could be terminated?”
- To complete and perfect the projects above-outlined.
- To promulgate certain basic laws essential to a peaceable transfer of authority from the Military Government to a government by the people.
- To study and substitute for the present Napoleonic Code, the United States Code of Laws, as has been done in Porto Rico.
- To fix by arbitration the boundary line between Santo Domingo and Haiti.