339.115 General Motors Export Co./95: Telegram

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

51. My telegram No. 47, May 8, 6 p.m.13 Italian Minister called on me today and apparently on the strength of telegrams received from his Government and from Italian Ambassador at Washington sounded me as to extent of cooperation he might expect from me in support of a possible peremptory demand on his part to the Dominican Government through the President of the Republic for immediate release of Barletta, guarantees of complete protection for latter’s property and claim by the Italian Government for indemnity for international offense involved. He felt that nothing more could be obtained by him from the Dominican Government unless we were prepared to extend scope of our interposition in the case beyond the strict range of interests of American nationals in Santo Domingo Motors Company and Dominican Tobacco Company and into the range of defending also strictly Italian interest in the case as to which we had hitherto been disinterested.

He again indicated that his Government might decide to make naval demonstration here and sounded me as to our attitude in such eventuality. I replied that such action would obviously raise question of high policy as to which I could express no opinion but I suggested that consideration of such matters be deferred pending result of our representations here. He answered that even if our representations were successful action of Dominican Government would not meet obligation of Dominican Government to afford Italian Government satisfaction.

It seems possible that the Italian Minister and his Government are at least tentatively considering confronting us with the dilemma of continuing to avoid interposition here in relation to what may be termed Italian political interest in Barletta case or of accepting responsibility for exerting influence on Dominican Government to satisfy that interest. Latter alternative seems also to involve choice of an American policy of bringing to bear upon the Dominican Government compelling pressure that might be expected to have the effect of discrediting it further in the eyes of its own people and a policy of protecting Dominican Government against a European power seeking to press its possible rights which action on our part might tend to strengthen prestige of Dominican Government in the face of persuasive signs of its increasing unpopularity.

  1. Not printed.