The American Commissioner in the Dominican Republic (Welles) to the Secretary of State

No. 50

Sir: I have the honor to inform you that in several recent conferences which I have held with the members of the Dominican Commission, I have suggested the advisability of authorizing the Provisional Government, during its existence, to take certain measures which will prove of positive benefit in the development of the prosperity of the country, although such measures were not contemplated when the Plan of Evacuation was agreed upon;50 such authorization necessarily to be contingent upon the approval of the Government of the United States and the Dominican Commission. The Provisional Government is in a peculiarly favorable position to take the action proposed, since it has obtained the confidence of the great majority of the Dominican people, and owing to its non-political character the measures which it may take cannot form the basis of party dispute.

I have suggested that the present would be an opportune time for the Dominican Government to consider the possibility of negotiating agreements with the Italian and Spanish Governments whereby desirable Italian and Spanish immigration can be brought to this Republic with Government support and under Government supervision. The members of the Dominican Commission are heartily in favor of carrying out this proposal and are now considering the basis for such an arrangement with the Italian Government. It is their belief, in which I coincide, that any such arrangement should contemplate a yearly immigration of a very limited number of Italian families in order that the revenues of the Government may be amply sufficient to meet the initial expenditures which such immigration will entail. If a limited number of immigrants of a desirable character are brought here during a term of years and receive favorable treatment, the success of the experiment will in itself attract a larger number of immigrants. The territory of the Republic is very greatly under-populated and immigration of the character proposed will do much to develop the agricultural resources of the country.

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I have also proposed to the Commission that the present was an opportune time for commencing negotiations with the Haitian Government with a view to obtaining a final settlement of the boundary question between the two countries, which has been pending since the Haitian occupation of the Dominican Republic.

Repeated efforts have been made to bring about a settlement of this controversy, but the question has invariably been made a political issue. Because of its exceptional situation, the Provisional Government, with the unanimous approval of the three Presidential candidates, should have an excellent opportunity for reaching an agreement with the Government of Haiti, particularly in view of the present status of the Haitian Government. Any treaty or protocol which may be negotiated with the Haitian Government must of necessity be ad referendum to the Dominican Congress which will be elected next autumn. Given the previous approval, however, of the leaders of the three parties which will be represented in the Congress, it will be a foregone conclusion that the approval of the Congress will be obtained to any treaty or protocol so arrived at, I assume, of course, that the Department shares my belief that power should be given to the Provisional Government to enter into such negotiations. The boundary dispute between Haiti and the Dominican Republic has been the cause of constant friction between the two countries and so recently as ten days ago the kidnapping of certain Dominican citizens by a band of Haitians (among whom were members of the Haitian Gendarmerie) on Dominican territory adjacent to the provisional boundary, very nearly caused an international dispute of serious proportions. Because of the over-population of Haiti, Haitians near the Dominican border are constantly encroaching upon Dominican lands, with the result that territory which is clearly Dominican is, in many cases, solely occupied by Haitians. The indefinite situation in which the boundary controversy now stands likewise creates constant disputes in relation to the collection by Dominican authorities of internal revenue as well as of customs charges. I am hopeful that when the Provisional Government and the Dominican Commission determine, as they will in the near future, that the present is an opportune time to begin negotiations with the Government of Haiti, the Department will exert its good offices with the Haitian Government in order that an agreement satisfactory to both parties to the controversy may be reached.

I have [etc.]

Sumner Welles
  1. For correspondence concerning the Plan of Evacuation, see ibid., vol. ii, pp. 5 ff; also ante, pp. 892 ff.