276. Telegram 696 From the Embassy in the Dominican Republic to the Department of State1 2

[Page 1]


  • Kidnapping of U.S. Air Attache

1. I do not wish to be alarmist, but I am seeing developments of past few hours with deepening concern shared by my chief advisors, both civilian and military. Now that presumed kidnappers of Col. Crowley made known their demands through the public media and have set ten o’clock tomorrow morning March 25, as time for release of political prisoners, we are working against rapidly diminishing time.

2. Through several channels I have been pressing President Balaguer to authorize immediate government response which would indicate acceptance kidnappers demands and suggest ways in which kidnappers (who might well be at a loss as to how to proceed without such suggestions) can establish their credentials and give assurances of present safety and welfare of Crowley. Government response, we are urging, should also deal if need be with practical problems of meeting kidnappers demands (which we believe may be beyond government’s capabilities in time frame) as well as with impractical release arrangements required by kidnappers for prisoners. We consider these to be not only unrealistic but loaded with booby-traps for the ultimate safety of Crowley who, according to the kidnappers is not to be released until ten hours later and then only if all goes well. We believe government should accept conditions but [Page 2] should consider offering more practical alternative re release arrangements for prisoners.

3. Matter that most deeply concerns me, however, is accumulation bits of evidence, despite denials, that some Dominican military and police may in fact oppose release of prisoners in exchange for Colonel Crowley. We have confidential reports widespread roundup of leftist leaders may be impending, which in addition to endangering Col. Crowley, could be indication some elements military and police, whose reactions are primitive and to whom life means very little, may be considering risking sacrifice of Col. Crowley in order to eliminate their enemies of the left. We have urged against this course of action and have received denials and assurances.

4. If these concerns should nevertheless prove well founded I may find myself suddenly in a position in the next few hours where I may feel it necessary to make strong representation to President Balaguer to urge GODR to release prisoners and take effective steps to obtain safe return of Col. Crowley. It would strengthen my approach if I were able to say it had the approval and support of the Department. Please instruct soonest.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 783, Country Files, Latin America, Kidnapping in Dominican Republic. Secret; Limdis; Immediate. The Embassy reported Crowley’s kidnapping in telegram 677 from Santo Domingo, March 24. (Ibid.) Attached but not published is the CIA Intelligence Information Cable TDCS–314/03286–70, March 24, which confirmed the Ambassador’s concern that there was “considerable opposition on the part of military officers to the idea of complying with the demands of the kidnappers.” (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 783, Kidnapping in Dominican Republic)
  2. On March 24, U.S. Air Attaché Lt. Col. Donald J. Crowley, was kidnapped, presumably by members of the Dominican Popular Movement (MPD). Ambassador Meloy reported that he had pressed President Balaguer to accept the kidnappers’ demands. The Ambassador also indicated concern over evidence that Dominican security forces might be opposed to negotiating with “their enemies of the left.”