738.3915/327

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

No. 747

Sir: I have the honor to report with respect to the Haitian-Dominican boundary question that informal conversations, which it is hoped will proceed to a point where formal negotiations can be undertaken with some assurance of success, were instituted in this city on December 28th at a conference in which participated Minister of Foreign Affairs Sanchez, Mr. Troncoso de la Concha, Mr. Jacinto de Castro and Mr. Peyña-Battle, representing the Dominican Government, and Mr. Dejean, the Haitian Minister.

At the beginning of the conference a question arose as to whether Mr. Dejean’s participation therein was based on special powers from the Haitian Government to deal with the boundary question or was to be regarded as solely in his capacity as Haitian Minister. Mr. Dejean said that he was without any special powers, and that none [Page 355] appeared to be necessary for the present. He then read to the conference extracts from personal letters addressed to him by President Borno which clearly indicated a desire on the part of President Borno that Mr. Dejean during his stay in this country should interest himself primarily in matters pertaining to the boundary question and its settlement.

In response to a suggestion which was then made by Mr. Sanchez that the Minister should make a brief statement and embody therein any suggestion which he might care to advance with respect to a desirable mode of procedure, the Minister said that as he viewed the matter it was incumbent upon the Dominican Government to “make the next move”; that he had already acquainted the appropriate officials here with the views of his Government,—viz.: That the status quo line “with compensation” should be agreed upon as the basis of any discussions. He explained that by “compensation” he meant that obviously it would be necessary for each Government to cede to the other certain territory. He urged that a serious effort be made to agree upon a boundary line, and strongly recommended that the physical fixation of such line be left to a technical commission. He contended that the work of preparing accurate maps of the frontier zone might well follow rather than precede any efforts to reach an amicable agreement with respect to the line itself.

The Dominican representatives pointed out that under the provisions of Article 3 of the Dominican Constitution relative to the non-alienation of Dominican territory the Government might find it necessary to convene a constituent assembly for the purpose of procuring a modification of the article in question prior to the consummation of any agreement with respect to the boundary. In reply to a request for an expression of his opinion in the matter, Mr. Dejean said that the question was of course one for the Dominican Government to determine. He pointed out however that somewhat similar provisions were to be found in the Haitian Constitution and in the treaty of 1915 with the United States.91 After a further conversation of a somewhat general nature, the conference adjourned to reconvene on Monday, January 2, 1928.

Following the conference, I had a rather extended, though entirely personal and unofficial conversation with the Haitian Minister. With respect to the question of the provisions of Article 3 of the Dominican Constitution and their bearing upon the boundary question and the negotiations directed to its adjustment, I suggested as coming entirely from myself, that it would appear to be both wise and expedient to push the negotiations now, and that if the Dominican Government later should hold that an amendment to the constitution was in fact [Page 356] necessary, such action might well follow the conclusion of an agreement ad referendum between the two countries; that should a constituent assembly be convened to amend the provisions of Article 3, domestic political considerations might induce the Dominican Government to suggest other amendments having no bearing on the boundary question and it might become entangled with domestic political matters. This, I thought, would be most unfortunate. I suggested that the logical order of events in view of the considerations which I had advanced would be (1) agreement on boundary question, (2) constituent assembly, if necessary, to amend provisions of Article 3, (3) ratification of boundary agreement.

The Haitian Minister agreed fully with my suggestions, and again expressed his appreciation of the interest in the matter which had been taken by this Legation and of our obvious desire in an informal and discreet way to be of all possible assistance.

I have [etc.]

Evan E. Young