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

No. 3318

Sir: Referring to the Department’s airmail instruction No. 426 of May 12, 1936 (File No. 839.51/4356) enclosing a draft of a note to the Dominican Government setting forth our views of the correct in [Page 441] terpretation to be given Article III of the Dominican-American Convention of December 27, 1924, concerning the pledging of future revenues by the Dominican Government, I have the honor to enclose for the Department’s information a copy of the note as transmitted under date of May 18, 1936.34

In conversation today with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, who returned yesterday from more than a week’s absence in Haiti where he had attended the second inauguration of President Vincent as a member of the official suite of President Trujillo, the Minister informed me that he had not as yet had an opportunity to discuss the subject matter of my note with the President of the Republic as the latter was only expected to return today. Señor Bonetti Burgos, however, said that, speaking only for himself and neither on behalf of the President nor of the Government, he thought it was highly desirable that every effort should be made to adjust the divergent views of the two Governments regarding the interpretation of Article III of the Convention but, more than this, to consider the possibility of a revision of the Convention itself which was “inadequate.” I said to the Minister that I was entirely in agreement with him as to the desirability of reaching an agreement between our Governments regarding the interpretation of Article III and that I was at the disposal of himself and of the President of the Republic for a discussion of the subject. As for the suggested revision of the Convention, I told the Minister that, as I understood, successive diplomatic representatives of the Dominican Republic at Washington had been assured of the readiness of the Department of State to consider such revision under proper conditions and at the proper time but, I added, so long as the Convention remained in force in its present form, it should be conscientiously adhered to.

Although the Minister did not undertake to discuss the issue in great detail in our conversation this morning, he did say that he believed the essential point in the controversy as to Article III of the Convention was to determine the precise significance of the phrase “public debt,” the increase of which without the consent of the United States is precluded by Article III of the Convention. He said his Government was in agreement with the Government of the United States that the Dominican public debt, though only as the Dominican Government understood this term, could not be increased without the consent of our Government. I said to the Minister that in these circumstances it should not be beyond the resources of those concerned to reach an understanding, but that, if agreement could not be reached through the diplomatic channel, Article VI of the Convention itself provided a method of settling the controversy by arbitration. Expressing [Page 442] the hope that it would be possible to adjust our divergent standpoints by direct discussion, I reiterated my readiness to participate in any consultation on the subject which the President of the Republic and the Minister for Foreign Affairs might deem it appropriate to undertake with me in order to find a mutually satisfactory formula the acceptance of which by both Governments might put an end to controversy as to the meaning of the disputed Article of the Convention.

Respectfully yours,

H. F. Arthur Schoenfeld
  1. Note as transmitted was substantially the same as draft printed supra.