731.39/1–848

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

confidential

Subject: Alleged Venezuelan and Haitian Involvement in Revolutionary Activities against Dominican Republic

Participants: Ambassador Luis F. Thomen—Dominican Republic
Mr. Daniels—Director, ARA
Mr. Walker—Acting Chief, CRB
Mr. Hauch–CRB

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The Dominican Ambassador called at his request. …

In the course of the conservation the Ambassador presented two notes1 which he outlined orally. The first of these (copy in translation, [Page 156]with enclosure, attached) transmitted an eight-page memorandum regarding alleged Venezuelan and Haitian involvement in revolutionary activities against the Dominican Republic. The second, copy in translation also attached, set forth the Dominican Government’s concern at alleged efforts of the Venezuelan Government to obtain warships in the United States.

The Ambassador spent considerable time outlining the contents of the memorandum accompanying the first-mentioned note. He said that President Betancourt of Venezuela2 is the ringleader of revolutionary activities against his country. Among Venezuelan acts he mentioned that Venezuelan agents in Puerto Rico are endeavoring to create an unfriendly feeling towards the Dominican Republic and have been recruiting men in Puerto Rico to engage in revolutionary activities. Mr. Daniels immediately stated that he would cause an investigation to be made in Puerto Rico regarding any recruitment of revolutionary personnel and would take any other steps necessary to comply with our international obligations. The Ambassador said the FBI was already following the situation in Puerto Rico very closely and expressed his gratification for that agency’s activities.

The Ambassador then said that the most serious recent development has been the attitude taken by the Government of Haiti. After orally expounding the Dominican views on this point, as set forth in the memorandum and its attachments, the Ambassador stated that as a result of Haiti’s involvement in the revolutionary activities the situation between the two countries was very serious and that unpleasant developments endangering the peace of the hemisphere might result. He added that the Dominican Republic intended to use all means at its disposal to protect itself from aggression.

Mr. Daniels said he was deeply disturbed by the Ambassador’s remarks. Speaking entirely informally and not as representing the official view of the Department, he raised the possibility of having the charges and counter-charges of revolutionary activities considered by some inter-American body. Whatever procedure might be agreed on along this line should, of course, have the principal support of the parties to the disagreement, since they have the main interest in the matter. Mr. Daniels then inquired whether the Ambassador had any specific procedure in mind with respect to investigation, consultation, or mediation. The Ambassador replied that he had nothing specific to suggest and added that in the case of an incident with Haiti endangering the peace of the Island there would not be time for mediation.

Mr. Daniels then inquired whether the Governing Board of the Pan American Union has not been considering the revolutionary charges and countercharges. He personally thought that perhaps the [Page 157]Board might be in a position to suggest a procedure for handling this problem. He emphasized that this Government has so far refrained from taking the initiative in making official suggestions because it is a new departure in inter-American procedures. Again emphasizing that he was speaking entirely personally and unofficially, Mr. Daniels said something in the nature of the procedure outlined in the proposed inter-American pact giving the Governing Board consultative functions might be a channel for handling the problem. He said he would like to be informed of the views of the Dominican and other governments on the possibility of having the question handled through the consultative procedures of the Governing Board.

The Ambassador then reviewed the steps taken by his Government with a view to getting the problem before the American republics and inter-American bodies. He said that his Foreign Office had recently transmitted a second note to the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the American republics, through the channel of their diplomatic missions in Ciudad Trujillo. The previous one of August 30 concerned the revolutionary preparations in Cuba (Note: Despatch No. 6 of January 2, 1948 transmitted translation of the Dominican Foreign Office note mentioned by the Ambassador.) The Ambassador also stated that his Government had referred the question of revolutionary activities to the committee of five set up pursuant to the Act of Habana of 1940.3

The Ambassador then said that the Dominican request of the Director General of the Pan American Union to transmit a note of complaint to the Governments of Venezuela and Guatemala had been withdrawn because it involved a new question of procedure and neither the Ambassador nor the Foreign Office wished to use this channel in view of the fact that Mr. Armour did not specifically recall having suggested it. He repeated the remark he had previously made that he recalled Mr. Armour had suggested the Pan American Union as a possible transmitting agent.

Mr. Daniels said that all the American republics should be in accord on the proper procedure to handle a problem of this nature, particularly those directly involved. He said these charges and countercharges presented a challenge to all the republics and not merely to the United States. He added that were he talking to the Venezuelan and Haitian Ambassadors he would speak in the same way. As for the Dominican apprehension at the alleged Haitian actions, Mr. Daniels remarked that perhaps the Haitians were likewise apprehensive of the Dominican [Page 158]Republic. The Ambassador observed that this was entirely possible.

The Ambassador then passed to the second note regarding efforts of Venezuela to obtain warships in the United States. He observed that Venezuela has received arms and aircraft in this country. Venezuelan efforts to obtain ships were viewed with particular alarm by the Dominican Government because it did not wish to see a possible invasion attempt from Venezuela facilitated. Mr. Daniels observed that the Ambassador was saying practically word for word the Venezuelan comment on the recent Brazilian arms shipment to the Dominican Republic. The Ambassador then said that the arms from Brazil had been arranged for at the time of the revolutionary threat from Cuba when the Dominican Government was in urgent and immediate need of means of self-defense.

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  1. Neither printed.
  2. Romulo Betancourt, President of the Revolutionary Junta.
  3. For the texts of the Act and Convention of the Second Meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the American Republics at Habana, July 1940, see Department of State Bulletin, August 24, 1940, pp. 127 ff. For documentation on the meeting, see Foreign Relations, 1940, vol. v, pp. 180 ff.