339.115 General Motors Export Co./155

Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Latin American Affairs (Wilson)

At the Secretary’s request the Dominican Minister called on him this morning. Assistant Secretary Welles and Mr. Wilson were present.

The Secretary began the conversation by referring to the effort the American states had been making, at conferences such as that at Montevideo and in the individual action of the various states, to improve and strengthen their internal position and the international repute of the family of American nations. Such effort, the Secretary said, was of course based on principles of fair play and reasonable dealings towards all other countries and towards the nationals of other countries, and on respect for the obligations of international law. This “good neighbor” policy was one of which the American states could be justly proud. …

The Secretary then referred to the case of Mr. Amadeo Barletta. The Secretary said that he fully appreciated the fact that Mr. Barletta was an Italian citizen; nevertheless, the facts regarding the treatment given this Italian consular officer in the Dominican Republic were now known to the world. Mr. Barletta had been seized and thrown into prison and kept there incommunicado for over five weeks, during which time the Italian Minister had been unable to obtain any access to him whatsoever. The Secretary said that treatment such as this was certainly not in accordance with the principles of fair play and reasonable dealings toward all other countries embodied in the policy of the “good neighbor”; and he deplored the fact that this incident must inevitably tend to discredit the Pan-American community in the opinion of other countries. The Secretary said that he would be lacking in candor if he failed to point out to Mr. Brache that the Italian Government obviously could not permit such an affront to go unchallenged and that that Government might well resort to drastic measures, such as sending not one battleship but several battleships to the Dominican Republic, in which case the Dominican Government could hardly look for any sympathy from the United States or from the other American nations.

The Secretary said that there were two other matters, not mentioned in the memorandum,16 of which he desired to speak. One had to do with the brutal beating and shooting of the messenger of the American Legation, a British subject; this messenger, who had been ill and apparently out of his mind, had gone to the house of a Dominican [Page 493] officer, but had in no way threatened any violence; nevertheless, the members of the armed forces of the Dominican Government had cruelly beaten him and then shot him, and the poor fellow was in the hospital very seriously injured and probably permanently incapacitated. The other case the Secretary desired to mention was that of an American citizen who had been arrested about the same time as Mr. Barletta had been arrested, and apparently on similar charges, and had since that time, that is, for about six weeks, been held incommunicado. (This reference was to the case of Mr. Oscar Michelena, although the Secretary did not mention him by name, nor did Mr. Brache inquire the name of the American citizen in question.)

Finally, the Secretary expressed his sincere hope that the Dominican Government would no longer lag behind in the effort in which every one of the other American states were loyally working and cooperating, the effort of placing their relations with all other countries on the basis of the “good neighbor” in order to improve and strengthen the position and the international standing of the community of American states. He expressed his confident hope that the Dominican Government would again take part in this effort, and that it would take all necessary steps to remove causes for complaint which had arisen in the instances which he had mentioned and those which were set forth in the memorandum.

As regards the case of Mr. Barletta, Mr. Brache made two contradictory statements: he stated in the first place that he, Mr. Brache, was a close personal friend of Mr. Barletta and hoped fervently that Mr. Barletta would be proved innocent; in the next breath Mr. Brache stated that while he was a close friend of Mr. Barletta nevertheless Mr. Barletta was of a “passionate” temperament and might very well have been implicated in the matters concerning which charges had been made against him, and he, Mr. Brache, trusted that Mr. Barletta would be proved guilty in order that the actions of the Dominican Government in his case might thereby be justified.

Mr. Brache said that he had recently been considering making a trip to the Dominican Republic; that while he had within the last day or so practically abandoned the idea, nevertheless, he felt that in view of what the Secretary had said to him he believed it would be helpful if he should leave in the immediate future, in order to discuss this situation with President Trujillo. He promised his own best efforts to correct any injustices which had been committed by the Dominican authorities as regards American nationals and interests, and stated that in his opinion there was a good deal which was required to be done in this field.

Edwin C. Wilson
  1. Infra.