795B. 5/7–951

The Ambassador in the Dominican Republic (Ackerman) to the Department of State

No. 14

Subject: Conversation with President and Foreign Secretary Regarding Dominican Troops for UN1

In my conversation today with President Trujillo2 and Foreign Secretary Díaz Ordóñez (this is the first time he has had Secretary Díaz Ordóñez present at our interviews) concerning the position of the Dominican Republic in the Korean campaign and the contribution of armed forces for the UN, reported in my telegram 8, of July 9, 1951,3 the President repeated to me substantially the views he had expressed to General Watson4 in the conversation reported in my despatch 848, June 27, 1951.5

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I pointed out to him the advantages to this country of having a battalion thoroughly trained and equipped for modern warfare as his best insurance against any invasion attempts, although I did not believe there would be any further incidents of that nature in view of the actions taken by the OAS. In emphasizing this remark I pointed out that the reason we had been interested in a battalion rather than a group of smaller size, such as one or two companies, was because the battalion is a self-sustaining unit, if a Marine battalion is taken as a model, equipped, in addition to rifles and machine guns, with tanks, bazookas and possibly such light artillery as howitzers, and flame throwing equipment. The firing power, therefore, of a modern battalion is substantially above that of much larger units under former standards. The streamlining and training of such a force would provide valuable experience to men and especially officers, and by its greater effectiveness might permit him to reduce his present military forces. Therefore, there were advantages to the country apart from the primary objective supporting this attempt to discourage the Soviet from embarking on a Third World War, which seemed to me to merit his reconsideration of his previous decision. I stressed the importance of the countries of Latin America making a show of strength vis-á-vis the Soviet, and mentioned that Brazil was one of the latest of the South American countries to signify intention to join our forces in Korea.6 He interpolated that he had heard rumors that Nicaragua may send a contingent to Korea, to which I replied that while I believed this matter is under active consideration in Nicaragua, as in several other countries, I could not state for certain that such is the case.

The President listened attentively to my presentation and when I had concluded, he remarked that there could be no question in the minds of anyone anywhere as to his opposition to Communism; that he had taken a strong stand against it long before the U.S. had decided that relations with Russia could not be effective until they were backed up with force. He wished to recall to me that the groups in this area who were desirous of destroying his government were not adverse to using Communists or any other element they could get to support them in such attempts, for among those mixed up in the Cayo Confites affair there were Cuban Communists, some of whom have since shown their true colors by visits to Russia or the satellite states. At that time he sought aid from the U.S. in the form of military equipment and received little understanding and on this as on other occasions in the past he has not found the U.S. very sympathetic to him. He has had to govern this country in a manner designed to improve it in all fundamentals. He has given it a national pride and made it sufficiently [Page 1372] strong that it is now respected among nations. The improvements under his direction are here for all to see. I pointed out that in the affairs of all nations there are times when misunderstandings arise, but that I felt he could not complain in any way against the treatment accorded him during the last three years for we had endeavored to understand his problems and to be of assistance to him in many ways. This he acknowledged to be true. He then said that the financial problem was one that had him somewhat concerned for he had spent a great deal of money in building up his armed forces to insure security from interventionists abroad, and in equipping and supplying those forces. Aside from heavy expenditures made in Brazil, he had also built up an arms factory7 so as to relieve himself of dependence on foreign sources in an emergency, and this arms factory had been costly. He has always taken pride in avoiding the assumption of obligations beyond the capacity of the country to pay and when he assumed such obligations to live up to them without quibbling or further discussion. The UN has been a financial drain, for apart from the contributions it has been costly to send representatives to its meetings. He feels that the Dominican Republic is in less favorable position to send troops to Korea or prepare for integration of a contingent in the forces of the UN than are a number of the more wealthy of the Latin American countries who have not signified an intention to contribute.

He then inquired as to whether I knew the present status of the security program legislation and in the event it were approved by Congress, whether these funds would be made available to the countries of Latin America.

The third point he raised was the Constitutional provision against sending troops outside of the country, and he facetiously remarked that when he had sought extraordinary powers sometime ago to counteract the plottings of his enemies, adverse criticism emanated from “your friends”.

I expressed my understanding of his preoccupation with the financial burden imposed on this country for maintaining the various agencies of the UN and especially for its many meetings which caused a great outlay for small countries and also remarked that the State Department and the U.S. Government were appreciative of the strong support we had always received from the Dominican delegates to these bodies on matters of concern to us and to the Dominican Republic. I remarked that the U.S. has been well aware of the fact that the Dominican Republic has met its obligations to the UN and its affiliates promptly and willingly and that possibly this in part was the reason we felt that he would not treat lightly the request for armed support. I emphasized that this is a common effort and that we too are making [Page 1373] heavy sacrifices and would probably have to continue to do so until such time as the Soviet, which apparently only recognizes force, came to realize that warfare is unprofitable to all.

The objection to sending forces to Korea by reason of the Constitutional proscription was cogent and one which I could not argue against except to point out that under present world conditions a new request for special Presidential authority would be justified. However, as regards the cost of a contingent for the use of the UK, these forces, as I understand it, are to be held in readiness for use after they have been trained and equipped. If the cease-fire in Korea is a prelude to the withdrawal of troops from that area it is unlikely that the UN will call for these contingents immediately and when such call is made the special Presidential authority required could then be raised before the Dominican Congress.

As regards the appropriations under the security program it seems reasonable to suppose, although I pointed out that this was my idea wholly and not based on information obtained from Washington, that the U.S. Government would utilize that to assist those countries in Latin America which show an intention to support the actions of the UN with armed forces. This should not be interpreted to mean that the U.S. plans to supply equipment and materials as a gift but presumably the authority in that legislation would permit the U.S. to make such equipment available at cost or below cost and also to assist in the training of such troops as might be requested by Latin American governments so that they would be ready for immediate integration into an over-all army. I mentioned further that the arms factory might now become a source of income to this government and especially a worthwhile contribution to the UN or the Atlantic Pact countries in the event that the discussions now being conducted in Washington by Brig. General Clark (Ret) with the War Department were to result in contracting for materiel manufactured to our specifications. Probably the use of such arms by the Dominican armed forces would reduce considerably the amount of equipment it would require from outside.

At this point the Foreign Secretary remarked that while he agreed with the President with regard to sending troops to Korea because of the Constitutional restrictions he did not think that these objections could be applied to the commitment which had been undertaken by this government in the GA and in Washington for making available armed forces for integration into an army for the UN, inasmuch as such troops would not be required immediately and they were merely being trained for later call if an emergency arises in the future. He expressed the view that probably a contingent smaller than a battalion could be made available, but I repeated the arguments given previously supporting a contingent of battalion strength.

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The President then handed certain documents to the Foreign Secretary, which apparently had been drawn up by other advisers with regard to these questions, and requested the Foreign Secretary to redraft them along the lines of making available armed forces for the future use of the UN in accordance with the commitments of this government under article 8 of the GA resolution “Uniting for Peace”.8 He asked that the Foreign Minister prepare this in draft form which he could study carefully.

Several times during the exchange of views, the Foreign Minister interjected a few words in my support and I feel certain that these were effective in the President’s reversal of his previous decision.

As soon as I receive more definite information from the President or Foreign Secretary concerning this decision, I shall seek from the Department its views as to training, and equipping such contingent to make it available for immediate integration into a larger force.9

Ralph H. Ackerman
  1. For additional documentation concerning United States efforts to secure from Latin American governments offers of troop participation in Korea, see pp. 985 ff.
  2. Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Lt. Gen. Thomas E. Watson (ret.).
  5. Not printed (795B.5/6–2751).
  6. For documentation on this subject, see pp. 1184 ff.
  7. Apparent reference to the Dominican Government’s armament plant at San Cristobal.
  8. Reference to Resolution No. 377 (V) of the General Assembly of the United Nations, November 3, 1950. For text, see United Nations, Official Records of the General Assembly, Fifth Session, Resolutions Adopted by the General Assembly during the period 19 September to 15 December 1950, Supplement No. 20 (A/1775), pp. 10–12.
  9. In despatch 14, from Ciudad Trujillo, dated July 12, 1951, Ambassador Ackerman stated in part: “It is quite obvious from my conversation with the President and the Foreign Minister, as well as from inspired articles which have occurred in the press, that this government will not make available troops for Korea.” (795B.5/7–1251)