839.00/2754a: Telegram

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

49. From Welles.

In view of the discontent which appears to exist among the members of both political parties because of certain decisions of the Central Electoral Board, please summon immediately a meeting of the members of the Commission and hand them the following communication which I have addressed to them, stating that therein is expressed the view of the Government of the United States.

“From reports received by the Department of State and from personal communications received by me from members of the Commission, it is apparent that dissatisfaction has been caused both parties contending in the approaching National elections by certain decisions of the Central Electoral Board. The situation thereby created raises considerations of the gravest importance. It will be your recollection that the present Election Law received the most careful study before its adoption by all the members of the Commission and that all of the members of the Commission were unanimous in believing that the constitution, in accordance with the provisions of the present Election Law, of a non-partisan Central Electoral Board, under whose sole jurisdiction all the electoral machinery would function, was to prove of the most positive benefit to the Dominican people. It was in consistence with this belief, following the precedents which had been advantageously created in other countries, that it was determined that the decisions of the Central Electoral Board would not be subject to the review of any other tribunal. You will likewise recall that the election of the permanent members of the Central Electoral Board met with the unanimous approval of the members of your Commission because of their high standing and because of their reputation for probity and impartiality.

Now that in the discharge of its duties, the Central Electoral Board has rendered decisions disadvantageous to the interests of one or the other of the political parties, it is alleged to be the desire of certain elements in both parties that these decisions of the Central Electoral Board be subject to review by some other tribunal in the Republic, or be even submitted to the scrutiny of the Government of the United States. It will, of course, be evident to the members of the Commission that if the first of these two alternatives were adopted, the very purpose for which the Central Electoral Board was created would be rendered null and void, since it was precisely because of the opinion of the Commission of Representatives that the jurisdiction of no other tribunal in the Republic would furnish equal [Page 909]guarantees of entire impartiality that the Central Electoral Board was constituted. If the second alternative were adopted, the Plan of Evacuation itself would be violated since Article 1 of that Plan states that the Plan of Evacuation has been agreed upon in order that the Dominican people may hold general elections without the intervention of the authorities of the United States.

The following consideration appears to be of equal importance. The present Election Law, which places the holding of the elections under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Central Electoral Board, is in the nature of an experiment. It is an experiment entered into because of the belief of the representatives of the Dominican people that this law will afford, now and in the future, the most ample assurance that full opportunity will be given thereby to every Dominican voter to register his choice of candidates at the polls, since the entire structure of the Law rests upon the exclusive jurisdiction of an impartial non-political Central Electoral Board. If the decisions of the Central Electoral Board in the first elections should be set aside or impaired in any manner, this experiment must necessarily fail.

Should one or both of the political parties believe that they have positive proof that one or more of the members of the Central Electoral Board are improperly discharging their duties, their recourse lies in the provisions of Article 13 of the Electoral Law.

I am confident that the views above expressed will meet with the full agreement of the members of your Commission. The control of the coming elections is vested solely in Dominican authorities. The results of the election can be satisfactory only if both political parties patriotically support these authorities established by the Election Law and abide by their decisions. Sumner Welles.”

Hughes