322. Telegram From the Department of State to All Missions in the American Republics1

Department is becoming seriously concerned about situation developing between Cuba and Dominican Republic, which is of immediate interest to U.S. not only because it raises possibility of open conflict disturbing peace of Caribbean and hemisphere but because two countries involved are among closest of US neighbors and thus have direct bearing on U.S. security and interests.

Information available to Department strongly indicates that, in specific disregard of Habana Convention2 and other international instruments obligating parties to peaceful settlement of disputes, groups have organized, trained and obtained equipment in both Cuba and Dominican Republic for purpose of engaging in expeditions aimed at the overthrow of the other government.

First overt aggression appears to have taken place on June 14 when unidentified plane landed group of revolutionaries at Constanza, Dominican Republic, where clashes with Dominican forces apparently still in progress. Dominican Rebel Radio has identified leader of expedition as Enrique Jimenez, publicly known to have been officer in Castro’s 26th of July movement. Information further indicates that significant forces being prepared and equipped in Cuba with probable intent of reenforcing Jimenez expedition.

On other hand, our information indicates that for some time a force has been gathering in Dominican Republic for purpose of creating counter-revolution under leadership of and consisting largely of elements who fled Cuba following Batista’s downfall although degree of Batista’s involvement, if any, is not clear. This force has attempted to obtain arms from various sources abroad, including this country, and has been reported to have infiltrated agents into Cuba for purpose of organizing internal support for counter-revolution. While U.S. on basis present evidence does not desire to charge either Cuban or [Page 536] Dominican governments as such with complicity, it is evident situation would not have reached present proportions had they both observed international commitments, including especially Habana Convention.

It is evident such situation has explosive potentialities which, if uncontrolled, could lead in stages to open hostilities between two American States and bring into play Rio Treaty and other Inter-American treaties under which all American Republics have responsibilities for peace of hemisphere. Such hostilities would be of particular concern to U.S. not only because of geographical proximity of combatants and possible dangers to American life and property but because of implications for future of inter-American system. For some 30 years U.S. has scrupulously followed policy of non-intervention in Carribbean area and hemisphere as whole, depending on collective action of American States to maintain peace in area. Although OAS has been notably successful to date in dealing with conflicts, U.S. feels American nations as whole must be prepared to deal successfully with more difficult cases such as emerging Cuban-Dominican case if OAS and inter-American system are to retain public support and confidence throughout hemisphere indispensable to its proper functioning.

U.S. objective in present situation is to prevent aggression, whether overt or covert by or from any country against any other country and to promote atmosphere of observance of international law and treaty commitments which is essential to development of democratic institutions and economic progress throughout hemisphere. Record of last 30 years in hemisphere fully demonstrates that it is under such conditions that democracy gains the most ground and that, under conditions of turmoil and non-observance of law and international obligations, result is often strengthening of authoritarian forces.

In dispute now emerging, U.S. does not seek take side with one country or other or one regime or other. Examination of record of recent relations with present Government of Cuba and Government of Dominican Republic will reveal that (1) U.S. has stood firmly behind its non-intervention obligation and other commitments; (2) U.S. has sought to be cooperative and constructive in its relations with both; and (3) U.S. has had very difficult problems in its relations with both countries. It should therefore be clear that U.S. favors neither Castro nor Trujillo régimes as far as they may be involved in present activities but seeks no more than observance by all of principle of non-aggression in this hemisphere at time when all energies of free world must be concentrated on problem of maintaining its security and of strengthening itself politically and economically for long term contest with Communist authoritarianism.

In light foregoing, you are requested promptly to approach the most senior official you deem appropriate in government to which you are accredited and (1) inform him of seriousness with which U.S. [Page 537] Government views situation, using as much of above as you deem suitable and (2) submit views and suggestion of government as to how problem should be dealt with, considering neither country has yet requested assistance OAS nor indicated any intent to do so.

(FYI—Intelligence available to Department indicates that key subordinates of both Castro and Trujillo heavily implicated in training and equipping expeditionary forces and that their principals in all probability personally had knowledge and approval operations. However, in these initial consultations Department does not wish make direct or detailed accusation against them.)

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 636.39/6–1859. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Hill, cleared with Snow, and approved by Rubottom who signed for Dillon. Sent to Asuncion, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Caracas, Guatemala City, La Paz, Lima, Managua, Mexico City, Montevideo, Panama City, Port-au-Prince, Quito, Rio de Janeiro, San Jose, San Salvador, Santiago, and Tegucigalpa. Sent to Ciudad Trujillo and Havana for information only.
  2. For text of the Convention on Duties and Rights of States in the Event of Civil Strife, signed at Havana February 28, 1928, see 46 Stat. (Pt. 2) 2749.