The Chargé in the Dominican Republic ( Scherer ) to the Secretary of State

No. 527

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Embassy’s telegram no. 475 of December 8, 194532 with reference to an interview with President Trujillo and others at the National Palace on December 7 concerning the President’s request to certain American sugar companies operating in the Dominican Republic to engage in informational activities.

On receipt of the Department’s telegram no. 362 of December 5, 194532 an appointment was made at my request to See President Trujillo at noon on December 7. When I arrived at the Palace, Mr. E. I. Kilbourne, of the West Indies Sugar Company, was in the President’s waiting room and he remained there during the early part of the conversation between the President, Foreign Minister Peña Batlle and myself.

I recalled to the President our meeting of November 17 in his office, at which time I outlined the Department’s policy concerning noninterference in local political affairs of other countries by American individuals or companies. I added that the Department of State had instructed the Embassy to address letters restating this policy to the three sugar companies whose representatives had attended the previous meeting and I wished to have the President know of that action. I then reviewed in brief the contents of the identical letters which have been sent to Messrs. Fox, Kilbourne and Hennessey (copy enclosed32). The President said that he had no idea of asking American [Page 992] interests to become involved in Dominican politics; in fact, his two basic policies in this connection with American companies are (1) to keep them from engaging in local Dominican politics and (2) to assist them to operate successfully as far as he can.

The President continued that his request of November 17 to the sugar companies was merely for the purpose of obtaining information as to any interruption of work to which they might become subject. He then called Mr. Kilbourne, who had obviously been informed of the meeting in advance. Mr. Kilbourne stated that he would be glad to get such a letter from the Embassy as it would enable him and his associates to clarify the situation. He said that his company has not engaged in political activities in the Dominican Republic, nor does he know of a single instance of any American company’s making any campaign contribution here. He stated that his company’s policy is to support the administration in power, whatever it may be.

Up to this point no one had mentioned the fear of Communism which had played such an important part in the meeting of November 17. Consequently, I stated to the President that it was his mention of Communism then which led me to restate the Department’s policy on political interference by American companies. The President brushed my statement aside by saying that he did not intend to specify communists only in connection with the interruption of work at sugar Centrals. He is interested in learning of such interruptions, whatever the cause may be.

Peña Batlle then spoke up, saying that the Government would make every possible effort to see that the sugar crop is ground since Government finances depend to such a large extent on revenues from sugar operations. In fact, without these revenues the Foreign Minister said the Trujillo government would fall.

At the end of the conversation President Trujillo reiterated his two basic points, that of non-interference in domestic politics by American interests, and his firm support of them in carrying on their activities. It appears certain to me now that both the Dominican Government and the American sugar companies operating here well understand the view of the United States Government in this connection. There is still room for doubt, however, as to what the American companies will do. After the meeting at the palace, Mr. Kilbourne came to the Embassy and among other things said he had not had [Page 993] to report any individuals to the President so far. He stated that he would follow all proper requests of the Trujillo government as long as it is in power. Mr. Kilbourne explained that his company’s policy of supporting the Government consisted of obeying its laws, but the Embassy strongly suspects that at times the support takes on a more positive form. He said he would study with great interest the Embassy’s letter and would present his reply in person.

The Embassy will endeavor to keep close watch over developments and inform the Department promptly.

Although I have had only two interviews with the President, I was impressed by his equanimity. If he is apprehensive as to his future, he has given me no sign whatsoever. He appears to be confident, serene and smiling. His associates are not so composed, however, and both Peña Batlle and Emilio Garcia Godoy, the Dominican Ambassador at Washington, appear to be nervous and concerned.

Respectfully yours,

George E. Scherer
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