235. Telegram From the Embassy in the Dominican Republic to the Department of State1

3420. Subject: Ambassador’s Meeting with President-Elect Antonio Guzman.

1. The Ambassador called this morning on President-elect Antonio Guzman at the latter’s request.

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2. The purpose of the meeting appears to have been to solicit the Ambassador’s views on current developments in the Dominican scene. While it was not made explicit, it was apparent from Guzman’s comments that he was under pressure from elements of the PRD to make statements which he considered unsettling and that he wanted to take Embassy assessment into account before a media appearance scheduled for the afternoon. His own evaluation continued to be that a calm and unruffled approach was both warranted and necessary.

3. The Ambassador went over the major elements of the situation: Balaguer had stated to the Ambassador his intention to turn over the administration on August 16 and to retire.2 Thanks to the efforts made by Guzman himself, as well as to pressures which had been placed on them both domestically and internationally following May 17, the military appeared to have receded as a threat and could probably be expected to go along with the change in regime at this time. The problem of the election challenges was somewhat disturbing, mainly because of the way it was keeping all parties stirred up and was affecting the economy, but here President Balaguer had made clear that such challenges did not apply to the Presidential election results but rather to the results in the municipalities and for Senatorial and Deputy seats.

4. Guzman’s assessment of the situation paralled ours. He said that Balaguer had given him the same assurances with regard to the turnover and that his impression was that Balaguer was to some extent the prisoner of the demands of those around him who found it difficult to adjust to the concept of defeat. Guzman seemed to be virtually unconcerned about the Presidential turnover. He also felt that the military were now under substantial control and in general ready to accept the results of the election. He noted the exception to this in the case of “one or two generals” (read Major General Neit Nivar Seijas) but Guzman seemed to feel that the latter were no longer a relevant element in the overall power equation. On the question of the electoral challenges, Guzman said he had been encouraged by informal word that he had just received that the Chilean computer specialists brought in by the JCE had reported nothing abnormal in the makeup of the computerized registration lists. He was hopeful that the junta would pronounce itself in a relatively brief period of time. He noted, however, the severe damage that was being done to the economy in the interim.

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5. The Ambassador took this opportunity to note that it would be useful for Embassy personnel in the economic field to have continuing contact with the people who were working with Guzman on economic matters. He mentioned the importance for the Dominican Republic of current efforts of the Caribbean Consultative Group and the problems, on which Balaguer had already briefed Guzman, related to the Dominican debt situation. Guzman said he would ask his people to be in touch with the Embassy’s E/C section and with USAID for an on-going exchange of views.

6. In view of Guzman’s previously-shown concern that the U.S. military might be operating on a different wave length from other parts of the U.S. Government, the Ambassador also reiterated the integrated nature of the U.S. Government’s policy formulation and execution process as regards the Dominican Republic.

7. Guzman expressed his appreciation for the support which he had received from many countries in the hemisphere and again noted that the role of the U.S. and President Carter personally had been a crucial one in fending off early efforts to overturn the results of the elections as well as in the period of continued uncertainty that has followed.

8. Ambassador suggested that his visit could not be held quiet from the press. He and Guzman agreed that any press inquiries would be met with a statement which would include the points that (A) the meeting had been held at the request of Guzman for an exchange of views; (B) that these exchanges of views were normal with an incoming administration; (C) that the meeting was without prejudice to the certification of the election board; and (D) it was in line with the contacts that have taken place between President Balaguer and Mr. Guzman. As it turned out, a reporter from the local tabloid “La Noticia” was waiting when the Ambassador emerged from the Guzman house and the above line was used.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780262–0834. Confidential; Immediate; Limdis. Repeated for information to Caracas and Port au Prince.
  2. Balaguer told Yost in a June 16 meeting that he would turn over power on August 16. (Telegram 3328 from Santo Domingo, June 16; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780252–0993) In telegram 3862 from Santo Domingo, July 14, the Embassy reported that Balaguer officially conceded on July 13. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780289–1026)