839.00/2760: Telegram

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

62. My number 60, November 5, 11 a.m.10 I have had for the last three days almost continuous conferences with the Commission as well as private conferences with the two Presidential candidates. I have placed before the latter the following considerations:

1. If the two political parties continue the policy of obstruction which each has consistently followed, no elections can be held.

2. If no elections are held, the Dominican signers of the Plan of Evacuation violate one of the chief obligations assumed by them in that instrument and in that contingency the Government of the United States must reserve entire liberty to determine its course of action.

3. By reason of developments not foreseen previous to the date upon which the electoral law was promulgated, both parties have been able to secure technical advantages contrary to the spirit of that law and to the spirit of the plan of evacuation.

These advantages for the Coalition Party are as follows: By reason of a restrictive interpretation of a faultily worded article of the electoral law the Central Electoral Board has rejected the Alianza ticket in the Province of La Vega and will, in all probability on the same ground, reject the Alianza tickets in the Provinces of Barahona, Monte Christi and Puerto Plata, thus preventing the members of the Alianza Party in these four Provinces from voting in the coming elections because of mere technical errors in the drafting of the party ticket. Fraudulent intent in these cases has not even been charged.

The advantages of the Alianza Party are as follows: By reason of the fact that the provincial and municipal electoral boards were constituted before present Alianza Party was formed as the result of a conjunction of the National and Progressive Parties and since these electoral boards were composed of three members divided equally among such three political parties in existence at that time, the Alianza Party has now a majority vote on all of these important boards. Furthermore, since the conjunction of the National and Progressive Parties occurred subsequent to the formation of the Provisional Government, the Alianza Party has twice the representation among the Secretaries of State of the Provisional Government accorded the Coalition Party. Likewise, by reason of the fact that [Page 912]Señor Velasquez was almost invariably consulted by the Military Government in regard to the appointment of sindicos, fiscales and judges of the courts of first instance, the great majority of these public officials all of whom play an important role in the decision of electoral contests, are at present partisan supporters of the Alianza Party.

4. It is a physical impossibility for the elections to be held on November 14, by reason of the complete break-down of the electoral machinery and the nonfunctioning of the Central Electoral Board which has made impossible the decision of pre-election contests and the printing of ballots. Since the decisions reached by the Electoral Board regarding party tickets, etc., had application solely to the present electoral period, such decisions would have no force in the event that new election decree were issued and a new electoral period be established as must now inevitably be the case.

I have therefore suggested to the leaders of the two political parties that each relinquish the technical advantages which may have been acquired, as a patriotic duty, and that before November 14, the date now fixed for the national elections, the President be authorized by the Commission to issue a decree postponing the date of the elections for a period of 46 days and amending the electoral law in the following manner: (a) Permitting both political parties an extension of time to rectify any technical mistakes which have occurred in the drafting of their provincial tickets; (b) reconstituting the electoral boards in such a manner as to give both parties equal representation thereon throughout the Republic; (c) granting the Central Electoral Board the right to determine appeals brought by municipal boards from decisions of the provincial boards thus enabling the Central Electoral Board to make its jurisdiction absolute. And that the President be authorized at the same time to give both parties equal representation among the sindicos, fiscales and judges of the first instance.

I made it clear that the intent of my suggestion was to give both sides equal treatment and to enable both parties to go to the polls with equal guarantees; that this suggestion was offered only because the elections could not now be held on the date set, and because I deemed it advisable before a new electoral period was entered into to avail ourselves of the experience acquired and reform the evident abuses which lack of pre-vision in the drafting of the electoral law had made possible.

I am highly gratified to be able to state that the political leaders of the two parties have finally today reached a definite agreement in accordance with the suggestion above outlined and are now in process of drafting the decrees required by [for] transmission to the Provisional President. A complete break-down of the execution of the Plan of Evacuation has thereby been avoided. A much improved [Page 913]feeling already prevails between the leaders of both parties and I apprehend no further difficulties in the future.

I desire to call your attention to the fact that a change in the appointments of judges of first instance, sindicos and fiscales so as to give both parties equal representation implies a modification of article 2 of the Plan of Evacuation which provides that “the judges and other officials of the judiciary shall not be removed except for due cause.” Since the proposed change is in itself desirable, in view of the extraordinary circumstances existing, and is farther the only way in which both parties can be made to feel that they will obtain equal treatment during the electoral period, I assume that you will have no objection to my consent to the proposed modifications under the limitations above specified.

Welles
  1. Not printed.