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

No. 3396

Sir: Referring further to my despatch No. 3375 of June 18, 1936,57 reporting the delivery to the Dominican Government of a note regarding the floating debt of the Dominican Republic, in pursuance of the Department’s airmail instruction No. 433 of June 13, I have the honor to inform the Department that in conversation yesterday with the Minister for Foreign Affairs he returned to the subject of this note, intimating that, upon careful examination of its language, the Dominican Government was led to the conclusion that the note indicated a change in the American Government’s policy towards the Dominican Government. Señor Bonetti Burgos said this was considered to be implied by that part of the note dealing with the American Government’s past attitude towards Dominican financial matters, especially when taken in conjunction with our note of May 18 on the subject of the interpretation of Article III of the Convention.58

The Minister for Foreign Affairs proceeded to say that the Dominican Government did not admit the right of the American Government to interpose in the administrative operations of the former, which must be within the free discretion of the Dominican Government. So far as the settlement of the Dominican Government’s floating debt was concerned, most of this debt had been inherited by the present administration from the previous administration and it had been substantially reduced, the Government intending further to reduce it within the limits imposed by the need of meeting current expenditures. The Minister for Foreign Affairs implied that the expenditures required for the elaborate public works program of President Trujillo were considered an essential part of these current needs. It was plain from the statements of the Minister for Foreign Affairs that our note of June 18 has definitely had the effect, referred to in the last paragraph of my despatch No. 3384 of June 24, of reminding the Dominican Government pointedly of the existence of the floating debt and of suggesting the expediency of giving it more active attention.

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I said to the Minister for Foreign Affairs that his reference to a changed policy on the part of the United States in Dominican affairs seemed unjustified. Our recent representations had been made in a spirit of the utmost friendliness and in the hope that they would serve, not as intimations of opposition to the Dominican Government in any respect, but rather as a guide (orientación) in formulating its policy. I said that it appeared clearly from my note of June 18 that my Government had withheld representations regarding the floating debt because of its considerate realization of the difficulties of the Dominican Government in recent years. Both by virtue of the Convention and by virtue of our legitimate interest in the protection of American nationals having valid claims against the Dominican Government, we had deemed it necessary to seek a statement of the Dominican Government’s attitude in the matter of the liquidation of the floating debt and to point out, for the guidance of the Dominican Government itself, our views with regard to some of the features of the latest legislation enacted here on the subject. We had done so at this time because it was known that the Dominican Government’s income was now more than adequate, with prudent management, to provide for its current needs and for effective liquidation of its floating debt. We had explicitly and repeatedly emphasized our desire not to interfere in the administrative operation of the Dominican Government in financial matters, which we were anxious to leave to the Dominican Government’s own discretion. It was our confident expectation that, in view of the conventional obligations of the Dominican Government, the latter would wish spontaneously to correct any exceptionable procedure that may have been adopted in disregard of those obligations. Our having pointed out these obligations in our recent notes, I concluded, was in fact a further demonstration, among many previously given, of the American Government’s friendly purposes arising out of the special relations between the two countries.

At the conclusion of the interview the Minister for Foreign Affairs thanked me for my explanatory statements, which he said were helpful to him.

Respectfully yours,

H. F. Arthur Schoenfeld
  1. Not printed.
  2. Note of May 18 was substantially the same as draft of note printed on p. 439.