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

No. 3454

Sir: Referring to my despatch No. 3452 of today’s date transmitting to the Department a copy and translation of a note received today from the Dominican Government dated July 30 answering my note of June 18, 1936, on the subject of the Dominican Government’s floating debt, I have the honor to report that in conversation later today with the Minister of Foreign Affairs I called his attention to the fact that, in his note, no mention had been made of subhead (c) of the official advertisement of the Treasury Department dated May 8, 1936 (see enclosure to my despatch No. 3300 of May 9, 1936), giving public notice that no further claims would be admitted for consideration after the end of the period of 180 days contemplated in Article 2 of Law No. 1096, which provided for the submission of admitted claims [Page 472] against the Dominican Government within that time for re-examination and re-audit. I inquired of the Minister of Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the silence of his note on this subject, the provision of the Treasury notice above mentioned, and also mentioned in my note of June 18, was to be considered definitive. The Minister answered in the negative and stated that the provision in question was included in the Treasury notice merely for the purpose of expediting submission of claims for re-examination and would not really exclude admitted claims not so submitted. He admitted his previous oral statement to the same effect made to me some weeks ago.

The Minister went on to say that, inasmuch as Law No. 1096 was still the governing legislation in this matter, his note of July 30 to me could take formal cognizance only of the existing law. He added that, for the same reason, no official information could be “advanced” (adelantada) regarding the Government’s plans for “amplification” (ampliación) of the legislation touching the floating debt. He was in a position, however, to state to me, as President Trujillo had himself intimated to me on July 11 last, that the President was giving personal attention and study to the possibility of further legislation designed to attain the purpose the President had definitely in mind, of eliminating the floating debt question as rapidly as possible from the problems facing the administration. In this relation the Minister alluded to the fact that consideration was being given to a method of providing for payment of smaller claims indiscriminately with priority over larger claims, and to a method of selecting by lot the claims to be paid and other possible procedure to facilitate the settlement of the floating debt problem within the limits of available resources.

The Minister referred to the opinion I had expressed to him, as well as to President Trujillo, regarding the happy effect both here and abroad of eventual action by the Dominican Government for the settlement of the floating debt on an equitable and impartial basis, and repeated to me a statement made by President Trujillo in a conversation I had with him on July 11, to the effect that the President must necessarily consider the floating debt problem not as an isolated question but from the standpoint of how its settlement could be fitted in with other administrative problems, such as unemployment and public works. The Minister again assured me of the President’s purpose to give the floating debt problem a “firm” and “definitive” solution.

The above reported oral explanations of the Minister of Foreign Affairs were supplemented by his general statement that the Dominican Government was giving our representations regarding the floating debt the reciprocally friendly consideration we had solicited in our note of June 18 and that it fully accepted the assurance we had given [Page 473] that our representations had been made in a spirit of friendliness. In view of the unresponsive nature of the Dominican note of July 30, I consider the oral statements of the Minister of Foreign Affairs above outlined as being intended to have special significance.

Respectfully yours,

H. F. Arthur Schoenfeld