Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Charles C. Hauch of the Division of Caribbean Affairs

Participants: Assistant Secretary Armour
Mr. Wright—ARA
Ambassador Ortega Frier—Dominican Republic
Mr. Hauch—CRB

The Dominican Ambassador called at his request and discussed in a very grave and at times agitated manner the revolutionary activities [Page 655] against the Dominican Government centered in Cuba. He reviewed some of the alleged facts regarding concentration of forces and other details. He said that the plot was backed by a fund of $3,000,000. Part of this money had come, he said, from President Betancourt of Venezuela. He emphasized the communist influence in the plot, although admitting that a number of the principals were not communists.

The Ambassador then passed to the main purpose of his call, which was to solicit certain assistance from this Government. He prefaced his remarks by adverting to the alleged plan of the revolutionaries to destroy the Dominican sugar industry by bombing sugar centrals from the air. (See Department’s memorandum of conversation of Friday, September 12 entitled “Reported forthcoming attack on United States sugar properties in Dominican Republic”.52) He pointed out that the Dominican sugar industry was for the most part American-owned and that American interests would consequently suffer. He said the obvious objective of this plan was to destroy the principal source of the Dominican Government’s revenues and thus precipitate a financial and economic crisis in the Dominican Republic. He said that while this was the plan of the revolutionaries, it had the support of certain Cuban Government officials and Cuban sugar men who hoped the Dominican sugar industry and economy would be ruined in this way. He said the revolutionaries had adequate planes at their disposal to carry out this operation.

The Ambassador then requested that the delivery of the arms, ships, and aircraft his Government has solicited our assistance in obtaining be expedited. He pleaded in the strongest manner that the United States must assist the Dominican Republic in obtaining the means to defend itself. He said that the Dominican Government has only thirty aircraft and that most of these are training planes. (Note: Mr. George C. Stamets, technical advisor to the Dominican air force, had informed Messrs. Hauch and Spencer earlier in the day that the Dominican Government had only nine aircraft. Presumably, he meant aircraft capable of being used in combat.)

Mr. Wright explained that the State, War and Navy Departments were doing everything possible to expedite deliveries of an appropriate quantity of armament …

. . . . . . .

Mr. Armour observed that assistance in obtaining arms and military advice would appear not to be the immediate problem from the Dominican point of view. He said that an effort to resolve the problem of the Cuban Government’s toleration of and assistance to the revolutionary [Page 656] movement based on its territory would seem to be the most important step. Mr. Wright added that since the Dominican Republic is the offended party, it has the primary responsibility to initiate action in this direction, and that the Dominican Government could not and should not expect other Governments to take the initiative in this case. To this the Ambassador replied that this was precisely what the Dominican Government intended to do. He said his Government had obtained no satisfaction from dealing directly with the Cuban Government and now intended to have the matter considered in accordance with Resolution XIV adopted at the Second Meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the American Republics at Habana in 1940. Under this Resolution the Governing Board of the Pan American Union has designated a committee of five countries “which shall have the duty of keeping constant vigilance to insure that states between which any dispute exists or may arise, of any nature whatsoever, may solve it as quickly as possible, and of suggesting, without detriment to the methods adopted by the parties or to the procedures which they may agree upon, the measures and steps which may be conducive to a settlement.” Pursuant to this resolution, the Governing Board had appointed Cuba, the United States, Argentina, Mexico and Brazil to serve as members of this committee, but only the Cubans had actually appointed a representative. This was former Ambassador Concheso.53 (Note: The Dominican Ambassador incorrectly stated that Ambassador Belt54 was the Cuban representative.)

The Dominican Ambassador requested that this Government appoint its representative on the committee as quickly as possible in order that the committee might be ready to handle the case. He intimated, and subsequent investigation confirmed, that he was endeavoring to have the other countries on the committee likewise appoint their representatives. Mr. Wright stated that if the United States had not appointed anyone to serve in this capacity, we would probably designate our representative on the Governing Board, Ambassador William Dawson, to serve on the committee. (Note: It was subsequently decided to address a letter to the Pan American Union so designating Ambassador Dawson).

In the course of the discussion the Ambassador referred to the possibility of land attacks from Haiti. He said that the Haitian Government was doing what it could to prevent its territory from being used as a base, but intimated that it was not able to act effectively to avoid all such possibilities. He said that it was of grave concern to [Page 657] his Government that in the event of Haiti’s being used as a base it might be necessary for the Dominican land forces to cross the frontier. He asserted his concern at the effect this would have on Dominican-Haitian relations. He said that President Trujillo had discussed this with Haitian Ambassador Price-Mars and Ambassador Ortega Frier understood that Price-Mars had left for Haiti to report to President Estimé. The Ambassador also stated that President Trujillo had advised him that Estimé’s position was becoming weaker and that in the event it deteriorated completely a “military circle” headed by Col. Paul Magloire might take over the Haitian Government in a coup d’état.

The whole tone of the Ambassador’s conversation was very serious and he implied that he expected drastic developments shortly.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Aurelio Fernandez Concheso, formerly Cuban Ambassador in the United States.
  3. Guillermo Belt, Cuban Ambassador in the United States.