439.11c Colom, Eduardo/49

The Chargé in the Dominican Republic (Brown) to the Secretary of State

No. 1916

Sir: With further reference to the Department’s confidential instruction No. 272 of September 8, 1934, file No. 439.11–C. Colom, Eduardo/41 [46], and to the Legation’s despatch No. 1902 of September 19, 1934,29 in regard to the claim against the Dominican Government for the murder of Eduardo Colom y Piris, I have the honor to report that I again spoke to the Minister of Foreign Affairs today in regard to the case.

Lcdo. Logroño stated that he was preparing a draft of a note in the matter for submission to the President for the latter’s approval and that he believed the note would be transmitted to the Legation before October 3 next. It will be recalled that Lcdo. Logroño has made similar promises on several previous occasions.

He indicated that the note would probably be brief and would only contain an acknowledgment of the Legation’s note of April 4 and a statement to the effect that the Dominican Government, in paying the indemnity, did so to comply with what might be considered international obligations, although the Government would admit no responsibility in the matter. He added that in his opinion the responsibility of the Dominican Government in this case was not of greater import than would be the responsibility of a householder whose servant broke a window in a neighboring house. He stated that he had discussed the matter with the President on the evening of September 20 and that the President’s views concurred with what he had just told me. It would appear that the Dominican Government may be having difficulty in expressing an admission, and at the same time a denial, of responsibility in the matter.

In a general way, I gathered that the difficulty encountered by the Minister of Foreign Affairs in formulating a note to the Legation may also be concerned with the fear that, in answering the Legation’s note of April 4, the Dominican Government might imply complicity of the higher authorities in the death of Colom y Piris, a serious matter, whereas the Dominican Government apparently considers the killing of Colom y Piris as an unauthorized act of a subordinate official of the Government, and therefore, a minor matter, not involving the responsibility of the higher authorities to an appreciably greater extent than the killing of Colom y Piris by a private person would have involved their responsibility.

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The Minister of Foreign Affairs went on to say, with general reference to the Colom y Piris case, that a matter of major importance to the Dominican Government, that of its funded debt, which had been pending, he said, for a year and a half, had necessarily influenced the Government’s attitude toward other matters which he classed as of secondary importance. This rather frank statement on the part of Lcdo. Logroño again confirms previous reports by the Legation that action was intentionally delayed on matters pending between our Government and the Dominican Government, owing to the presumed lack of attention on the part of our Government, which the Dominican Government appears to have believed should have been given by our Government, to expediting the negotiations concerning the Dominican funded debt.

While what I have been able to learn would not appear to be conclusive, the supposed attitude of President Trujillo in regard to the Colom y Piris case has probably been of a two-fold nature. It was probably based in part, until the termination of the debt negotiations,30 on his unfavorable general attitude toward matters pending between our Government and the Dominican Government because of the delay in obtaining a re-adjustment of the service of the funded debt, satisfactory to the Dominican Government. In addition, however, his supposed attitude in regard to the case, from the beginning of it, has probably been based in large part on his desire not to acknowledge the responsibility of the Dominican Government.

Respectfully yours,

James E. Brown, Jr.
  1. Despatch No. 1902 not printed.
  2. See pp. 189 ff.