839.00/2497

The Minister in the Dominican Republic (Russell) to the Secretary of State

No. 742

Sir: I have the honor to inform you that, in accordance with your instructions of February 10, the following political leaders and representative Dominicans were invited to a conference with the Military Governor and myself. The conference took place in the Palace of the Archbishop on February 23rd, the following being invited: Archbishop Noüel; General Horacio Vasquez; Federico Velasquez; Enrique Jimenez; Dr. Ramón Baez (ex-President); Francisco J. Peynado; José M. Cabral y Baez (ex-Minister for Foreign Affairs); Rafael J. Castillo (President Supreme Court); Tulio M. Cestero; Jacinto R. de Castro; Manuel de J. Troncoso de la Concha; Juan Fco. Sanchez (Civil Gov. Santo Domingo Province); Manuel de J. Lluveres (Sub-Secretary of Interior).

The Archbishop did not attend on account of the delicate state of his health. Dr. Henriquez y Carvajal11 is absent in Cuba, but was represented by Tulio Cestero. Dr. Ramón Baez excused himself on account of professional duties.

I am enclosing herewith a copy of the statement that was given to each one of those present, and also a copy of their reply.

It seemed that all of those attending the conference came with their minds made up to accept nothing, as very little attention was paid to our statement, and nothing whatever was said in regard to the financial [Page 14]plan that accompanied the statement. The main objection was the question of the Legation guard in place of the military commission, as it was stated that this matter of having foreign forces in Dominican territory would bring about a condition similar to that in Nicaragua, and that a continuance of the occupation for a hundred years would be preferable. The Admiral and I stated that we would like every one to study the statement very carefully for a few days, and that we would be glad to have another conference for further discussion. That same afternoon those who attended the conference held a meeting and drafted and signed the reply as enclosed. This reply was printed in the Listin Diario, and the signers were all characterized as heroes, and this seems to have ended the matter. The general opinion is that the leaders, not wishing to assume responsibility for anything, and to avoid attack in the press, preferred to allow matters to remain as they are for two years longer; and that the question of permanent financing is very acceptable, but the responsibility therefor has been evaded.

It is quite evident that the leaders and representative Dominicans, and through them the people, will never accept anything in the nature of the military mission, nor anything similar to it. The press has been notably mild, and there has been less agitation than for many months. …

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I have [etc.]

William W. Russell
[Enclosure 1]

Statement of the Military Governor of Santo Domingo (Robison) and the American Minister in the Dominican Republic (Russell) Addressed to the Political Leaders and Representative Dominicans Attending the Conference of February 23

Gentlemen: 1. The Military Governor of Santo Domingo and the American Minister to the Dominican Republic having been called to Washington, D. C., to confer on Dominican affairs and having now returned to Santo Domingo, announce that as the result of their conferences with the United States Department of State, they have been instructed to advise you, as leaders of the various political parties of the Republic and as representative Dominicans, to the following effect:

(a)
That the United States Government, having announced its sincere desire and intention to withdraw from the Dominican Republic with only such treaty provisions as may be necessary to insure the proper discharge of its responsibilities in Santo Domingo and to the Dominican people, has given the Dominican people ample time [Page 15]to consider the terms of the Proclamation of June 14, 1921, but, in spite of earnest and continued efforts to convince the Dominican people of the sincerity of the United States Government in this matter, the Dominican people have given no evidence of their willingness to accept the terms of the Proclamation of June 14. The United States Government is unwilling to permit the present state of suspense and uncertainty to continue because of its detrimental effects both on the economical and on the political well-being of the Dominican people and, unless Dominican leaders now request the issue of a call for elections as provided in the Proclamation of June 14, 1921, and agree that the members of their respective parties will participate in such elections, the Proclamation of June 14, 1921, as well as the Proclamation of December 23, 1920,12 will be annulled and withdrawn and the administration of the Dominican Republic by the United States will continue until such time as the urgent public works now in the process of construction have been completed; an adequate Dominican Constabulary is functioning; and satisfactory arrangements made to turn over the administration of Dominican affairs to a properly constituted Dominican Government. The urgent public works referred to are, the completion of the main “carretera” to the North and the main roads from Santo Domingo to Higuey and to Comendador, respectively. The time required to complete these roads and to recruit and train an adequate Constabulary which will permit the entire withdrawal of all United States Military Forces is estimated to be not longer than two years from July 1, 1922.
(b)
You are further advised that the following words used in the Proclamation of June 14, 1921, namely “These elections will be held under the supervision of the authorities designated by the Military Governor” were not intended to imply that the authorities so designated should necessarily be officials of the Military Government or officers of the American Forces in the Dominican Republic but that the authorities to be designated by the Military Governor might well be Dominican citizens recommended for such position by the Dominican political leaders and you are aware of the fact that the existing Election Law provides for representatives of the various political parties as watchers and members of Election Boards. It is not contemplated that the Military Authorities will take any action whatever except in cases of disturbances or disputes which will interfere with the orderly conduct of the elections or their legality under the Election Law.
(c)
The United States Government is willing to make a final concession relative to Article 5 of the Convention of Evacuation proposed in the Proclamation of June 14, regarding the sending to Santo Domingo of a Military Mission from the United States, against which Article Dominican opposition appears to have concentrated. This concession will take the form of the omission of that Article from the Convention of Evacuation with the understanding that the United States Government will maintain a Legation Guard of United States Marines until such time as the Government of the United States and the Dominican Government agree that public order is adequately safeguarded [Page 16]by the Dominican Constabulary. (An understanding may well be reached, informally, whereby the officers of this Legation Guard may lend their services as instructors in the Dominican Constabulary and such an arrangement will undoubtedly be made if the Dominican people sincerely desire the complete withdrawal of the United States Military Forces at the earliest possible date).
(d)
Aside from the present political situation and regardless of whether the Republic is turned over to a properly constituted Dominican Government in the near future or at a later date, the financial situation of the Dominican Government, caused by the World-wide economic depression makes immediate permanent financing absolutely essential to the proper conduct of that government and your attention is invited to the enclosed financial memorandum relative thereto.13 If such financing is not undertaken immediately by the Military Government, advantage cannot be taken of the terms specified for the redemption of the 1918 and 1921 loans and the government will have no security to offer for funds necessary to complete the main roads nor to recruit the Constabulary to a strength sufficient to maintain security of life and property throughout the Republic and the withdrawal of the United States Military Forces will in consequence be indefinitely postponed. Moreover the new Dominican Government, assuming that elections were held and a new government installed, would find itself without funds to properly conduct its affairs, whereas, with a loan already negotiated in accordance with the financial memorandum referred to above the new government will have a working balance in the Treasury and its yearly charges for interest and amortization of the public debt will be substantially decreased and this, in view of present economic conditions, is most vital. Therefore, in order that Dominican finances may be stabilized; that the program of urgent public improvements may be continued; and that an adequate Dominican Constabulary may be recruited and trained; and the functions of government may be carried on in an economical but efficient manner, the Government of the United States will authorize the Military Government to negotiate immediately a permanent loan of $10,000,000, the allocation of which will be in accordance with the financial memorandum previously referred to. The preliminary steps for floating such a loan are now being taken.
(e)
The floatation by the Military Government of the permanent loan will necessarily entail the extension of the life of the Receivership General of Dominican Customs, the establishment of which is provided by the Convention of 1907 between the United States and Dominican Republic. Such extension of the Receivership will be necessary whether the permanent loan is floated by the Military Government or by the subsequent Dominican Government since no loan can be obtained without an extension of the duties of the Receivership General in this manner; and therefore the United States desires to include in the Treaty of Evacuation an article which will make provision for such extension and a further provision similar to that made in the Convention of 1907 for the expenditure [Page 17]of funds from the loan substantially in accordance with the financial memorandum referred to.

2. The Military Governor and the American Minister hold themselves in readiness to discuss fully and frankly with the political leaders and representative Dominicans all matters pertaining to Dominican affairs and they trust that this conference will result in an agreement on the part of Dominican leaders to take part in the elections, the first step toward providing a properly constituted Dominican Government and accomplishing the disoccupation of Santo Domingo by the United States Forces.

3. It is requested that you give this subject your immediate and earnest attention and that you be prepared to inform us of your decision at an early date.

Respectfully,

S. S. Robison

Rear Admiral, United States Navy
Military Governor of Santo Domingo

William W. Russell

United States Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Santo Domingo
[Enclosure 2]

Reply of the Political Leaders and Representative Dominicans to the Statement of the Military Governor of Santo Domingo (Robison) and American Minister in the Dominican Republic (Russell)

Gentlemen: We, the undersigned, convened this afternoon, and having read carefully the document presented by you at the meeting held today in the Capitular Hall of the Archbishop’s Palace, we have unanimously decided to ratify our statements of this morning to the effect that it is impossible to consider any point raised in said document, and we sustain our unswerving protest against the occupation of the Dominican Republic by the Military Forces of the United States.

With the expression of our highest consideration, we remain,

Respectfully,

  • J. M. Cabral y B.
  • Federico Velasquez
  • Ml. de J. Troncoso de La Concha
  • Enrique Jimenez
  • Juan F. Sanchez
  • Horacio Vasquez
  • R. J. Castillo
  • Lluveres
  • Francisco J. Peynado
  • Jacinto R. de Castro
  • Tulio M. Cestero
  1. Former Provisional President.
  2. For draft of proclamation of Dec. 23, 1920, see Foreign Relations, 1920, vol. ii, p. 145; for that of June 14, 1921, ibid., 1921, vol. i, p. 835.
  3. Not printed; it was substantially the same as the memorandum of Jan. 21, p. 7.