339.115 General Motors Export Co./117

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

No. 2483

Sir: Referring to the Department’s telegraphic instruction No. 23 of May 9, 1935, directing me to make a representation to the Dominican Government in writing in relation to the fine imposed upon the Dominican Tobacco Company, C. por A., on May 4 by a local court for alleged violation of certain Dominican internal revenue laws, I have the honor to enclose for the Department’s information a copy of a note under today’s date to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the sense directed. The Department will observe that the second paragraph of the enclosed note is somewhat more comprehensive than it would have been had I adhered strictly to the second paragraph of the Department’s telegraphic instruction under acknowledgment. The inclusion in the enclosed note of a reference to Article 44 of Executive Order No. 197 of August 19, 1918, known as the Law of Internal Revenue, was deemed desirable because of a reference to it in the decision of the court, of which a copy was enclosed with my despatch No. 2474 of May 7.14

I beg leave to add that a study of the Court’s decision in the case and a more extensive examination of Executive Order No. 197, disclose that the pertinent citation of the latter is Article 44, and not Article 9, as suggested my despatch No. 2474. Article 44 of the Executive Order provides for a fine of two hundred to two thousand dollars, but does not mention a penalty of imprisonment, although Article 51 prescribes alternative imprisonment in the event of failure to pay a fine.

It will be noted from the copy of the decision transmitted with the despatch last cited that the Dominican Tobacco Company was also “condemned” to pay the costs of the proceeding and that the imprisonment of the company’s president, Mr. Amadeo Barletta, was adjudged by the court in language to the effect that the company was condemned “to suffer the penalty of two years of correctional imprisonment, executable also in the person of the same president-treasurer, Mr. Amadeo Barletta.” In other words, it was the American-owned company which was condemned and not the individual personally. Barletta was apparently sentenced to imprisonment, not in his personal capacity but solely in his capacity as president of the American-owned company.

[Page 490]

In view of these facts, I respectfully suggest that I be authorized by telegraph to supplement the note to the Foreign Office herewith enclosed, so as to cover these two points by using language similar to that of the last paragraph of the enclosed note, requesting also remission of the costs of the proceedings assessed upon the company and remission of the penalty against the company “executable” by imprisonment in the person of its president-treasurer.

Respectfully yours,

H. F. Arthur Schoenfeld

The American Minister ( Schoenfeld ) to the Dominican Minister for Foreign Affairs ( Logroño )

No. 205

Mr. Secretary: I have the honor to refer to a proceeding before the Court of First Instance of the local judicial district (Penal Chamber) on May 4, 1935, against the Dominican Tobacco Company, C. por A., a corporation in which, as I have previously had the honor to point out to Your Excellency, American nationals have a majority stock interest. My Government has been informed that as a result of the proceeding in question a fine of $2,000 was assessed against the company and a sentence of two years imprisonment imposed upon the president of the company, Mr. Amadeo Barletta.

My Government now instructs me to state to Your Excellency that, as the acts in connection with which the severe penalties imposed on the Dominican Tobacco Company, according to the report of inspectors of internal revenue of Your Excellency’s Government, on the basis of which the judicial action was brought, were admittedly committed prior to the enactment of Laws Nos. 855 and 858 of March 13, 1935, prescribing the penalties imposed, the court was obviously precluded by Title 7, Section I, Article 42 of the Constitution of the Dominican Republic from convicting the company and its president under such laws. Your Excellency’s Government will, of course, recognize that the penalties prescribed in the proceedings by virtue of the laws enacted last March were more severe than those prescribed in Article 44 of Executive Order No. 197, of August 19, 1918, under which even the maximum penalties could not have been the fine and sentence of imprisonment imposed in this case.

I am instructed by my Government further to point out the summary nature of the proceedings, the lack of notice thereof to the company, the right of the company to be represented by counsel, the impossibility under the circumstances for the accused to present defense [Page 491] and the haste with which the decision of the court mentioned was announced. The facts supporting these respective statements are as well known to Your Excellency as they are to my Government. My Government directs me to point out also that the twenty-four page decision which was handed down by the court mentioned within a few minutes after the case was called for hearing, is regarded as having special significance as to the nature of the judicial proceedings in this case.

I am directed to state to Your Excellency with emphasis that the Government of the United States is deeply interested in seeing and must insist that its nationals be accorded all rights in the Dominican Republic to which they are entitled by established principles of international law and especially that they do not suffer a denial of justice or of just procedure.

The Government of the United States instructs me to request the prompt remission of the fine imposed upon the company and to reserve, in behalf of American interests, all rights growing out of any loss that may have been sustained by the company through this incident.

I avail myself [etc.]

H. F. Arthur Schoenfeld
  1. Not printed.