293. Memorandum of Conversation1 2

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  • Rámon Castillo on Anti-Dominican Press Campaign, La Banda, Military Attitudes, Etc.


  • Ambassador Francis E. Meloy, Jr.
  • Señor Rámon Castillo, Consul General of the Dominican Republic in Tokyo

Rámon Castillo came to see me at his request on Friday afternoon, September 17. He said President Balaguer is very much worried about the sugar legislation still pending before the U.S. Congress. I said that I, too, was somewhat concerned as reports reaching me from Washington indicated many outstanding differences between the Senate and House versions of the Sugar Act still must be resolved. No one could predict the results of the Conference Committee’s efforts to reconcile the two bills. If the House desire to give quotas to such countries as Paraguay and some African states prevails, I did not see where the tonnage would come from except from the quotas of the major supplies including the Dominican Republic. I therefore thought it might be helpful if Felipe Vicini could be in Washington at this time to help Ambassador Salvador Ortiz. Castillo replied that a message has already been sent calling Felipe Vicini back to Washington from Japan. He should be in Washington by September 20.

Castillo said Balaguer is particularly concerned at the moment by the possible effect on the sugar legislation of the highly critical articles concerning the Dominican Republic which have been appearing in the U.S. press. He said the difficulty is that many of the things appearing in these articles are true.

I replied that articles such as the one by MacDougal in the September 9 WALL STREET JOURNAL were highly slanted and distorted. It is true that MacDougal can defend most of his facts and figures, but they are presented in such a way as to give a very biased and distorted picture.

Continuing, I said it was clear to me that there appears to be a concerted campaign in the press abroad to discredit the Balaguer Government. The PRD here in the Dominican Republic has stated as much. The difficulty is that when such things as the activities of La Banda are permitted to continue here in the country, the detractors of the Government are given a perfect opportunity to exploit. I was glad that the President has ordered the dissolution of La Banda. I feared he had done so very late and that much damage has already been done, both inside the country and externally.

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Castillo said La Banda is going to continue. The President considers that it has done much useful work, and he intends to keep it in a “stand-by” status for possible future use should circumstances require. I replied that I hoped this was not so. To permit La Banda to operate had been, in my judgment, a great mistake. To preserve it would be another great error.

Castillo asked if I had spoken to President Balaguer about my views on La Banda. He said the President is very susceptible to any views or pressure from the American Embassy. I said the President was well aware of my views. I had spoken to him at some length on the 30th of July regarding terrorism, the disregard of the law, and the activities of La Banda. I noticed, however, that the activities of La Banda had continued subsequently.

Ramon Castillo said former Ambassador Crimmins had understood the Dominican mentality perfectly. He had almost become Dominicanized. Perhaps the President did not understand when views were put to him with great tact and diplomacy. I told Castillo he need not be concerned that I was overly diplomatic with the President. I spoke very directly and frankly with him as a friend concerned for the welfare of this country. I said exactly what I meant when I talked with the President, and I was sure he understood.

Turning to the military, Ramon Castillo said he, himself, is greatly disturbed to see that the Dominican military are more divided now than they have ever been since 1963. I said I was not aware of major new divisions within the military. Castillo brought forth his often-repeated assertion that he had accurately predicted the revolution in 1965 when the American Embassy “Intelligence Service” did not believe there would be one. He repeated that the Dominican armed forces are now deeply divided. One of the reasons is La Banda and General Perez y Perez’s sponsorship of this group. General Neit Nivar Seijas is vehemently opposed to La Banda. He says he wants his children to be able to walk freely down the street without requiring bodyguards as a general’s children. General Checo is also opposed to La Banda. Castillo hastened to say he was not suggesting that the divisions within the military were conspiratorial in nature. They might make the military susceptible to a conspiracy, however, should one arise from elsewhere.

I refrained from comment regarding Generals Perez y Perez or Neit Nivar.

Castillo said President Balaguer has a high regard for former Ambassador Crimmins. He had sent an invitation to Ambassador Crimmins orally, through Castillo, expressing the hope he could at some time visit the Dominican Republic either in a private or an official capacity. I replied that I knew Ambassador Crimmins cherished a very warm feeling for the Dominican Republic and his many friends here. I was sure he would like nothing better [Page 3] than the opportunity to return for a visit. He had indicated, however, that his official journeys away from Washington, as well as the pressure of his duties in the Department of State, would not make it possible for him to pay a visit here at this time. Castillo said he fully understood. Besides, this would not be an appropriate time for a visit from Ambassador Crimmins since such a visit would be sure to be misunderstood and exploited.

Ending our conversation, Castillo took two Dominican passports out of his pocket and asked my assistance in obtaining U.S. visas for his driver and his driver’s wife.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 12 DOM REP. Confidential. It was drafted by Meloy. In telegram 126 from Santo Domingo, January 10, 1972, the Embassy, in its year-end assessment, reported that “Balaguer gained an important psychological victory with the passage of the U.S. sugar legislation which provided an ample quota for Dominican sugar.” (Ibid., POL 2 DOM REP)
  2. Ambassador Meloy met with Ramón Castillo, Dominican Consul General in Tokyo, who indicated that President Balaguer was concerned that press criticism in the United States might have a negative influence on U.S. sugar legislation.