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

No. 629

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Embassy’s confidential telegram no. 14 of January 14, 4 p.m.23 relative to the sudden interest of President Trujillo in procuring additional aircraft from the Army and Navy Liquidation Board in Florida and to the despatching for that purpose of a two-man mission consisting of Captain George C. Stamets, United States Naval Mission, and Major Fernando M. Castillo, Dominican Air Corps. The mission actually left Ciudad Trujillo on January 15.

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On a recent trip to Ciudad Trujillo from Habana, Lieutenant Colonel Orin H. Rigley, Jr., Military Attaché for Air, was approached by Dominican officials in connection with the possible purchase of twelve primary trainers, four basic trainers and six advanced trainers, allegedly to be used only for training purposes. If the United States will not make the aircraft available, then the Dominican Government will reportedly seek them from another source, Canada having been specifically mentioned. The following extract from Colonel Rigley’s report to the War Department, No. R–57–45 of December 28, 1945, gives a summary of his views:

MAA Comment: The M.A.A. discussed the acquisition of the new equipment with the U.S. Embassy and was informed that the United States Government did not favor the present government and the State Department policy was not to help nor appear to help the present government stay in power. The U.S. Embassy stated that it would approve Dominican purchase of United States aviation surplus property in amounts sufficient to replace losses Dominicans suffered to their lend-lease equipment and a reasonable excess to furnish spare parts to keep the maximum number under lend-lease flying. The Embassy stated that this did not mean that the State Department would approve the purchases.

“The Dominican flying equipment is in deplorable condition and all equipment will be grounded in the near future for lack of spare parts.

“The Dominican Aviation Company (military) would like very much to have combat aircraft but will be satisfied with training aircraft. They have the money to purchase aircraft and show a desire to purchase equipment wherever possible if the United States Government will not sell to them.

“Whatever number the Dominicans are able to acquire, they will attempt to keep the maximum number in commission and will only use those absolutely necessary for spare parts.”

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The position of the Embassy, which was explained in detail to Colonel Rigley and which resulted from conversations of the Embassy staff before the departure of Ambassador McGurk during November, is that it would be inclined to recommend to the Department that sufficient replacement equipment and aircraft be made available to the Dominican Government to maintain the Dominican Air Corps in the same condition, with respect to number of aircraft and other features, as contemplated when the agreement of January 25, 1943, covering the United States Naval Mission, went into effect.24 Substantially all of the equipment was originally acquired under lend-lease, although now the Dominican Government is prepared to purchase supplies for cash.

The Embassy received yesterday (unaccompanied by an Instruction) a copy of the Department’s Secret letter of January 9, 1946 to the Acting Secretary of War25 calling attention to an Interim Program concerning the furnishing of military aircraft to other American Republics. It is noted that the Department approves of the Program provided that no aircraft are made available for the present to the Dominican Republic among certain other countries. If the United States Government has decided not to provide flying equipment to maintain the Dominican Air Corps at the above mentioned strength, it appears to me that we will not be fulfilling the purpose of the agreement and it should be abrogated. Article 4 provides for termination of the agreement by three months notice on the part of either government without explanation.26

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Respectfully yours,

George F. Scherer
  1. Not printed.
  2. Department of State Executive Agreement Series No. 312; 57 Stat. 910.
  3. Ante, p. 88.
  4. Telegram 30, January 29, 1946, 11 a.m., to Ciudad Trujillo, indicated that the Department had informed Captain Stamets and Major Castillo that it was prepared to grant export licenses for shipment of 16 PT’s, 3 BT’s, and one C-45 aircraft to the Dominican Government for use of the United States Naval Mission, but that no AT’s would be available; and that certain AT’s were regarded by the Department as tactical planes and as such subject to present restrictions on shipment of military equipment to the Dominican Republic (839.248/1–1446).