The Dominican Minister (Despradel) to the Secretary of State


Excellency: By direction of the Government of the Dominican Republic, the Financial Adviser of that Government has recently been in Washington in order to explain in person the critical situation now prevailing in my country. The seriousness of the present crisis will be apparent if we examine the figures of our public revenues.

In 1929 there were available for the expenditures of the Government approximately $13,859,000; in 1930, $9,879,000; whereas for the current year, 1931, not more than from $7,000,000 to $7,350,000 is anticipated. Our revenues still show a tendency to decline. Confronted [Page 125] with a world wide depression and still suffering from the devastation of a destructive hurricane, our people now find that the difficult situation created by so great a decline in revenues is greatly aggravated by reason of the increased amounts which we are obliged to pay for the annual service of the debt of our foreign loans.

Up to 1930 we had only to pay the annual interest on such loans, amounting to $1,082,619. The first redemption payments, however, became operative in March 1930, and as we had previously paid nothing for amortization, such payments amounted in 1930 to $1,262,499 and have increased $1,841,666 (sic) in the current year, making a total service of approximately $2,890,000. It is impossible to continue longer on this basis.

In order that Your Excellency may realize the efforts made by my Government to effect economies and meet the present emergency, I take the liberty of pointing out here some of the measures which have been taken:

The Government Departments have been reduced from ten to seven.
The personnel of the Government offices have been reduced by from fifteen to twenty per cent.
Salaries of the remaining public employees have been reduced this year by fifteen per cent which amounts to a total reduction of twenty-five per cent since 1929.
The salary and expense allowances of the President of the Republic have been reduced in proportion.
General economies in the expenses of all Departments of the Government have been made; the total budgetary reductions since the beginning of 1930 having reached a total of more than $2,500,000 or about twenty-five per cent (25%).

Despite all our efforts, the revenues have become so insufficient that the economic life of the Republic is paralyzed, and the existence of orderly government is in serious danger. Following are some of the main features of the present situation:

Salaries of the majority of Government employees have remained unpaid for a period of several months, due to lack of funds.
It has been necessary to reduce the appropriations for health and sanitation, in particular for maintenance of hospitals and charitable institutions, to such an extent that the public health is endangered.
Many schools have been closed, and the majority of teachers cannot be paid.
Our national highways, which represent an investment of many millions of dollars, are in a deplorable condition and are rapidly becoming impassable. Long established channels of commerce are, therefore, threatened with disruption.
The aqueduct of the City of Santo Domingo, the capital of the Republic, is going to ruin on account of lack of funds for its maintenance and operation, constituting a menace to the water supply of the city.
Our principal port, that of the capital city, is filling up with silt due to the continued suspension of all dredging operations, thus making the entrance of vessels more and more difficult.
The insufficiency of funds to pay for current supplies has resulted in the impossibility of paying many accounts, thus increasing our floating debt. The inability of the Government to pay accounts of this kind is greatly decreasing the purchasing power of the merchants, the imports of merchandise have been greatly reduced, and customs revenues have decreased in the same proportion.

The amount of revenues with which my Government must be maintained has now fallen to about $225,000 a month. The salary payroll alone, in its reduced form, amounts to more than $250,000 a month; and other current expenses amount to approximately $125,000 a month. The utter inadequacy of the general revenues can, therefore, be fairly perceived. Our customs revenues, which previously sufficed to pay the monthly installments of the debt service, amounting to $242,000 and which still left a balance to provide for general requirements of the Administration, have now dropped to less than $200,000 a month, and show signs of a continued decline.

This situation has brought the Dominican people to a state of pessimism and despair, which in itself constitutes a serious menace to the continuance of a stable and orderly government. Like many other countries of the world, the Dominican Republic imperatively requires a period of internal reconstruction and economic rehabilitation.

In view of the present critical emergency, my Government has decided that it must take immediate action to prevent a complete collapse of our national life. It has, therefore, prepared a bill for submission to the Dominican Congress, which, on the basis of the present level of customs receipts, will place at the disposal of the Government additional revenues which will amount to approximately $100,000 a month. The necessary result of such action will be the suspension on the part of the Dominican Republic of payments of sinking fund charges on our foreign bonds; but we intend to continue faithfully the payment of interest on the said bonds.

In accordance with the plan incorporated in the proposed legislation, a copy of which is enclosed for Your Excellency’s information, the additional funds placed at the disposal of the Government will be paid to an official who will be designated as Special Agent of the Emergency Fund. It is intended to expend this fund in the manner believed to be most beneficial to the entire country, namely, for the payment of the current salaries of Government employees, giving preference to those charged with the maintenance of public order, the financial offices, the public health and other similar services. If any balance remains available, it will be applied to the partial payment of back salaries and to the most urgent part of our floating debt.

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Ample safeguards have been provided for the careful expenditure not only of the emergency fund but also of the ordinary government revenues. The enclosed documents show in detail the purposes for which the emergency fund will be applied, as well as the other measures proposed to safeguard the entire plan. Your Excellency will observe that the proposed legislation covers the coming fiscal years, 1932 and 1933. My Government, nevertheless, hopes that the duration of the emergency period will be even shorter and it has, therefore, incorporated in the emergency bill a provision to the effect that whenever the general revenues during any six months’ period of the fiscal years 1932–33 shall have amounted to $2,250,000, the law shall automatically become null and void. It is also the intention of my Government to enact simultaneously with the emergency law the other law, a copy of which is enclosed, whereby our Finance Law is amended, for the purpose of providing due safeguards for handling the emergency fund.

It is with deep regret and full appreciation of the fact that our action is not in accordance with the obligations contracted by the Dominican Republic in the Convention which it concluded with the United States of America in 1924 nor the stipulations contained in the contracts for our foreign loans, that my Government finds itself compelled to take such measures for the purpose of protecting the very life of its people. Resort has been made to them only after the alternative solutions of our financial difficulties were unsuccessfully attempted.

In view of the foregoing statements and explanations I trust that Your Excellency, as well as the Government of the United States of America, will appreciate the reasons on which the adoption of the proposed laws are based and will interpose no objection to the emergency measure which my Government finds itself obliged to take.

I avail myself [etc.]

Roberto Despradel
[Enclosure 1—Translation37]

Emergency Law Referring to the Services of the Dominican Debt Approved October, 1931

The National Congress in the Name of the Republic

An Emergency Having Been Declared

Whereas the national revenues have diminished to such an extent and the needs of the Treasury are so pressing that the provision of immediate relief, pending the refunding of the national debt, is unavoidable;

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Whereas a state of economic emergency exists in the Republic and in the entire world, which requires extraordinary provisional measures to provide for the needs of the moment;

Whereas it is necessary for the relief of the Treasury to suspend the payment of the excessive service of the sinking funds of our foreign 5½ per cent bonds and devote the amounts so released to the satisfaction of the most urgent items of the budget;

Whereas the Republic orders such suspension under the exigencies of a special situation and with the firm intention to resume compliance with all its obligations as soon as circumstances permit;

By virtue of the powers conferred by Article 33 of the Constitution of the State, has passed the following Law:


  • Article 1. There is designated as an emergency fund the total amount of customs duties paid during each month in the customs houses of the Republic after the General Receivership of the said custom houses has covered in the order which is indicated: a) The expenses of the General Receivership of customs; b) The monthly installment of interest on the foreign bonds of the Republic, loan of 1922.
  • Article 2. The financial expert now in the service of the Government shall act as Special Agent and shall administer the said emergency fund. The amounts constituting said fund shall be received and paid out by him in accordance with the provisions of this law.
  • Article 3. The General Receivership of Customs shall continue to collect in each month the amounts designated in Article 1 of this law under letters (a) and (b). When the said amounts have been collected by the Receivership, all the other amounts payable as customs revenues shall be paid directly to the Special Agent of the emergency fund.
  • Article 4. The executive power shall issue the regulations necessary to carry out the purposes of this law.
  • Article 5. The compensation of 5 per cent guaranteed by the Convention of 1924 (Article 1) on total customs revenues shall suffer no diminution whatsoever on account of the present law.
  • Article 6. No payment shall be made from the emergency fund except by the Special Agent or a Delegate of his. From the said emergency fund the following payments shall be made in the order indicated below:
    Payment of the monthly installment of interest on the foreign bonds of the Republic of the loan of 1926, which shall be paid to the Fiscal Agent of the said loan:
    Expenses authorized by the executive power to cover harbor services and other expenses hitherto paid by the General Receivership of Customs for the Dominican Government; expenses of the office of the Special Agent of the emergency fund;
    Payment to the Dominican Government of a monthly amount not to exceed One hundred twenty-five thousand pesos American gold ($125,000.00), which shall be applied to the following objects in the order indicated:
    Payment of the monthly deficiency, if any, in the 70 per cent of the monthly revenues of the general funds of the Nation destined for the payment of salaries.
    Payment of the debt of the Dominican National Red Cross, occasioned by the hurricane of September, 1930, up to the maximum sum of Two hundred thousand dollars American gold ($200,000), and in accordance with the official list of that organization.
    Payment of current expenses in the same order as that specified in Law No. . . . . . ., dated . . . . . . ., in case of deficiency in the general funds of the Nation.
    Any balance, if such there be, of the said maximum amount of One hundred twenty-five thousand dollars American gold ($125,000.00) shall be applied to the payment in equal amounts of salaries in arrears and expenses in arrears.
    Any excess in the custom house revenues after payment of the amounts stated assigned to the purposes mentioned in this Article shall be paid over by the Special Agent of the emergency fund to the Receiver General of Customs to be applied to the payment of the monthly installments of amortization on the foreign bonds of the Republic.
  • Article 7. Whenever the total general fund revenues of the Nation during any six months’ period of the fiscal year 1932 or 1933 shall amount to the sum of Two Million Two Hundred Fifty Thousand dollars American gold ($2,250,000.00), the present emergency law shall be without effect.
  • Article 8. During the life of this law none of the general fund revenues of the Nation now in existence shall be specialized, nor shall the laws which have created them be modified or repealed if such modification or repeal reduces or abolishes any of the said revenues.
  • Article 9. This law shall become effective on the day of its publication and shall continue in force until the end of the year 1933 unless the circumstances which have prompted the passage of this emergency law change, in accordance with Article 7.
  • Article 10. This law repeals all laws or provisions of laws that may be contrary thereto.

Done, etc.

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[Enclosure 2—Translation38]

Law Relative to Dominican Budget Payments Approved October 1931

The National Congress in the Name of the Republic

An Emergency Hating Been Declared Has Enacted the Following Law:


  • Article 1. The following order of payment of the appropriations, from the general fund, authorized in the Budget Law is hereby established and shall be observed by the National Treasurer:
    Current salaries, to which there shall be applied the Seventy per cent (70) of the general funds of the Nation (beginning with the salaries of October, 1931) in the following order:
    Executive and Legislative powers; Public Order and National Defense;
    Treasury Offices;
    Sanitation and Public Welfare;
    All other salaries.
    Current expenses, to which there shall be applied the 30 per cent of the general funds of the Nation in the following order:
    Rations and hospitals;
    Rentals and contracts;
    Current supplies;
    Expenses in arrears.
  • Article 2. The National Treasurer shall set aside daily from the general fund revenues such sums as may be necessary to make the payments of the Government in the order and according to the percentages herein established.
  • Article 3. The Office of Supplies (Suministros) shall ship supplies only upon orders authorized in accordance with Accounting Law No. 1114. The limit of purchases in any month to replace stocks shall not exceed the amount of the orders filled during the month immediately preceding.

Done, etc.

  1. Filed separately under 839.51/3583; for circumstances in connection with text of this document and its receipt in the Department, see memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State, October 27, p. 133.
  2. Filed separately under 839.51/3584.