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

No. 648

Sir: Having reference to the Legation’s confidential despatch No. 644, October 5, 1927, respecting the Dominican-Haitian boundary [Page 351] question and the proposed treaty of amity, I have the honor to submit the following confidential information regarding the attitude of the Dominican Government in these matters as outlined to me yesterday by Minister of Foreign Affairs Sanchez.

With regard to the Haitian proposal looking to the conclusion of a treaty of amity between the two countries, Mr. Sanchez said that the Dominican Government would be unable to sign the treaty in the form in which it had been submitted by President Borno. The principal objection was to the provision under which each Government bound itself to refrain from war against the other. On this point, the Minister expressed himself as being heartily in favor in principle of the provision in question, but asserted that the boundary controversy could be adjusted only through one of three methods, (1) arbitration, (2) direct negotiations, and (3) war. He felt that in view of the past history of the question the Dominican Government could place little hope in any recourse to arbitration, and that if direct negotiations between the two countries should fail, and the use of armed force, precluded, the Dominican Government would find its hands tied. Sanchez asserted that the Dominican Government had in fact no intention of resorting to the use of armed force, but he emphasized the point that under the status quo the situation is much more favorable to Haiti than to the Dominican Republic, and said that he felt strongly that to outlaw war through the medium of a solemn written undertaking, prior to the settlement of the boundary question, would weaken the position of the Dominican Government in any negotiations with Haiti looking to the definite settlement of the problem.

The Minister then went on to say that once the boundary question was settled he would be heartily in favor of the conclusion of the treaty of amity as proposed by President Borno, or, if preferred by Haiti, the text of the provisions of the proposed convention could be made a part of the final treaty settling the boundary question.

Mr. Sanchez very confidentially informed me that the program of the Dominican Government respecting the settlement of the boundary controversy and the conclusion of a treaty of amity is at present as follows:—

Refusal to sign the proposed treaty of amity unless it be so modified as to eliminate the provision outlawing war perpetually.
To propose to Haiti that a joint topographic study of the frontier zone be made by the two Governments. With reference to this point he remarked that the absence of topographical information, accepted by both Governments, rendered it very difficult to deal in a satisfactory manner with the frontier question. He suggested that if the so-called “American Line” had been definitely established by markers from one coast to the other it would have been of immeasurable assistance to [Page 352] both Governments in connection with the boundary negotiations. He added that while both Governments today possessed their own official maps it was a matter of common knowledge that neither one was accurate.
With the necessary topographical data in hand and approved by both Governments, there should then be, in the opinion of the Minister, no serious obstacle to the speedy settlement of the entire question. The Minister intimated that should the Haitian Government agree to the proposal which the Dominican Government intends to advance in the near future looking to the establishment of a topographical commission the work would probably be done by, or at least under the supervision of, American experts.

In according me the information set forth above Mr. Sanchez requested that it be regarded as highly confidential. I thanked the Minister for the frank expression of his views and the statement of the present attitude and policy of the Dominican Government, and I reiterated the hope that the settlement of the question would continue to receive his most sympathetic and careful attention and a very sincere and earnest effort made to arrive at an early agreement with Haiti.

The Minister said that he would be glad to keep me informed of all developments, and that he would wish to confer with me from time to time. He added that he considered it highly important that the Government of the United States be kept promptly and fully apprised of all developments and that he felt that full and frank discussions with me would serve the best interests of both the Dominican Republic and Haiti. In conclusion, he stated that he had not considered it advisable as yet to discuss the entire matter with the Haitian Minister as freely and fully as he had in his conversation with me, but that a communication setting forth the Dominican Government’s attitude toward the proposed treaty of amity would be addressed to Minister Dejean in the near future.

I have [etc.]

Evan E. Young