Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Caribbean and Central American Affairs (Cochran)

Participants: Ambassador García Godoy of the Dominican Republic
Assistant Secretary Braden
Ambassador McGurk
Mr. Cochran, CCA

The Dominican Ambassador called this afternoon at the Department’s request. Mr. Braden delivered to him the Department’s note of today informing him that the United States would be unable to approve the shipment to the Dominican Republic of the large quantity of ammunition which the Dominican Embassy had recently requested. At the same time, Mr. Braden said that he believed in the old adage “las cuentas claras hacen buenos amigos” and, therefore, with entire frankness, wanted to make clear the reasons why we had taken this attitude. He then touched briefly on the various points set forth in the aide-mémoire, also dated today, which was then also handed to the Ambassador.

The Ambassador commented that as regards the possibility that the munitions would be used against Haiti, this would be poor business for the Dominican Republic and intimated that no such intention was held. Mr. Braden observed that indeed it would be “poor business”. The Ambassador charged that the Dominican Republic had never taken aggressive action against Haiti but that all the troubles between the two countries had invariably sprung from Haitian attacks. As regards the possible use of the arms against the Dominican people, he remarked that this was not necessary. Sr. Garcia Godoy observed that democracies varied, that the United States in the South denied the vote to negroes, and that democracy in Santo Domingo was gauged to the necessities of that situation.

Mr. Braden went on to say that there were two other matters on which he wished to touch: First, he referred to various occasions on which Dominican officials had handled official matters directly with other agencies of the Government without going through the Department. He gave the Ambassador to understand that these comments applied to officials who come up from the Dominican Republic rather than to the personnel of the Embassy, but made clear our desire that, in order to avoid misunderstandings and confusion, all official matters should henceforward be channeled through the Department of State in the customary and appropriate way. Second, Mr. Braden remarked upon certain comments made by the Dominican Foreign Minister [Page 996] to Mr. Scherer with regard to allegedly improper activities on the part of certain members of the personnel of our Embassy in the Dominican Republic, and said that these charges had been found to be without foundation. The Dominican Ambassador commented that he understood that certain of the personnel of the Embassy in Ciudad Trujillo had been engaging in improper activities. Mr. Braden said that an investigation had established that such is not the fact, and Mr. McGurk confirmed his statement. The Ambassador asked whether this had been brought to the attention of the Foreign Minister in a memorandum and was informed that Mr. Scherer had discussed the matter orally with the Foreign Minister. He asked when this incident had taken place, and was informed that it was within the last two or three weeks.37

The Ambassador adverted once more to the aide-mémoire, which he said would create a very bad impression in Ciudad Trujillo. He expressed the wish that we had simply presented him with the note. He apparently hoped that the aide-mémoire would be withdrawn. When such action was not forthcoming, he commented that we seemed to be passing judgment upon internal political conditions in the Dominican Republic. Mr. Braden replied that such was not our object at all. On the contrary, on the basis that plain speaking makes good friends we had felt it desirable to make clear the reasons which prompted us to refuse the request for ammunition. To have done any less might have left President Trujillo under misconceptions as to the reasons motivating our decision.

The Ambassador reiterated his feeling that the aide-mémoire would have a very bad effect in the Dominican Republic and said that it would result in his resignation as Ambassador, particularly since, as he had previously stated, he is writing a book touching on democracy, and it is essential that he not be handicapped by the discretion in expressing his views which would be essential were he to continue as Ambassador. Mr. Braden was prompt in replying that we would, of course, lament the Ambassador’s resignation because of our warm personal feeling for him. The Ambassador claimed that there were soon to be elections in the Dominican Republic which would be the freest in the history of the hemisphere, although he observed “there will not be two parties since the opposition is so impoverished in competent men that they have no acceptable candidates and therefore will present no ticket”. Mr. Braden expressed his hope that these elections would be fair.

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The Ambassador then went on to discuss the cooperation which the Dominican Republic had extended to the United States. He said that he was this afternoon to sign the Bretton Woods Agreement38 and that the Dominican Republic had recently increased its contribution to UNRKA.39 He averred that this was one only out of a desire to cooperate with the United States, since the Dominican Republic could gain no benefit from either one. Mr. Braden pointed out that the UNRRA agreement had a charitable aspect, that we could not sit idly by and see hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people in Europe starve to death and that any steps taken to alleviate such suffering must inevitably redound to the benefit of all countries. Similarly, he said that Bretton Woods must bring definite and tangible benefits to all the countries of the world. The Ambassador again commented that the United States, despite our terrifically high taxation, had taken the leadership in these two fields and that the Dominican Republic had been happy to follow that leadership.

The Ambassador asked if any arms had been supplied to Haiti, and was informed that Haiti had not requested or received armaments in recent months.

  1. The discussion took place on the morning of December 10.
  2. For text of the Bretton Woods Fund and Bank agreements, signed by Garcia Godoy in Washington on December 28, see Department of State Treaties and Other International Acts Series No. 1501, or 60 Stat. (pt. 2) 1401. For documentation concerning the Bretton Woods Conference, see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. ii, pp. 106 ff.
  3. United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. For documentation concerning this organization, see vol. ii, pp. 958 ff.