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

6173. Subject: Call on President Guzman by Ambassador and CAR Director Warne.

1. (C—Entire text)

2. Summary. Ambassador and ARA/CAR Director W. Robert Warne called on President Guzman on morning of Oct 4 to introduce Warne and discuss current developments in US assistance. Guzman noted that US/DR relations continued to be excellent and was most appreciative of US hurricane assistance.2 He expressed his interest in improving DR’s relationship with Haiti and other Caribbean countries. He also emphasized the need to focus on rehabilitation efforts in the agricultural sector and repeated his interest in attracting foreign investment. The hour long interview was relaxed and friendly. End summary.

[Page 558]

Emergency Assistance

3. Noting the continued widespread goodwill toward the DR that was apparent in the administration and the Congress during his recent visit to Washington, Ambassador explained the current status of the extraordinary House-initiated supplementary appropriation for emergency assistance to the Caribbean countries affected by Hurricanes David and Frederick (in the amount of $20 or $25 million, depending on final congressional action).3 He also noted that the USG had agreed per the President’s requests to replace the helicopters now delivering emergency supplies in the country but that these aircraft had an Oct 25 withdrawal date at the latest and that helicopter assistance in transporting relief supplies would therefore end as of that date. With the help of marked maps, it was explained fully to the President where the aircraft had been operating and why it was essential that organizational plans be put in place promptly for filling the needs which would remain after Oct 25. The President said that he recognized the problem and would reinforce his efforts. He noted in this regard that he was moving as fast as he could to establish joint groups for the management of relief efforts, including local civilian and military authorities and representatives of the churches. He emphasized once again his determination that the distribution of relief supplies be carefully watched and no diversions tolerated.

4. The Ambassador noted that progress was now being made on arrangements for US help in restoring the electrical system west of Santo Domingo. It was made clear that funding problems remained serious and might further delay this project although it was hoped that initial steps might be undertaken in the meantime. In discussion of PL–480/CCC, it was explained that the Mission would shortly be submitting to Washington its justification for a needed level of commodity assistance to the DR and had been in touch with various elements of the GODR in this regard.4 The Ambassador reminded the President that the US had met the President’s request totaling $42 million, made in August 78,5 but that it was our impression that the total of approximately $170 million which had now been requested was beyond practical possibilities. The President asked again that we do what we can [Page 559] since this would be an important contribution to meeting the food deficiencies they could expect over the coming year as well as contributing to longer-term rehabilitation and developmental needs. The President also expressed appreciation for whatever the US could do to promote a multilateral effort to help finance the medium-term reconstruction effort. Warne described the World Bank’s efforts to organize a possible consortium of donors to provide reconstruction financing and the US active support in this regard.

Caribbean Policy

5. In response to Mr Warne’s question, President Guzman said that his government was strongly interested in reinforcing the DR’s Caribbean posture. A Carribbean Foreign Ministers meeting scheduled for early Sept had to be postponed because of the hurricanes, but he expected that it would be reconvened at some time in the near future. He promised to look into the question of providing further ideas on possible roles for the DR in the region and on regional issues as a whole. In this context, President Guzman noted his own decision to support the candidacy of DR SecState for Foreign Affairs Jimenez for the OAS Secretary Generalship and remarked on the heightened role for the DR in the region that Jimenez’ election would provide.

6. Guzman went on to emphasize the importance of the bilateral DR/Haiti relationship. His government had sought improved relations with Haiti and he thought there was much that could be done in the way of joint projects to further improve these relations. He mentioned connecting roads (bringing up specifically an improved road in the north from Cap Haitien to Monte Christi via Dajabon, and improvement of the border road from Dajabon south to Elias Pina); a diversion dam on the Massacre River along the lines of the recently opened dam on the Pedernales in the south; and the general importance of developing the frontier area. Guzman said he assumed that financing of viable bilateral projects could be obtained through such mechanisms as the Caribbean Group. He also reacted favorably to mention of reforestation as a useful common objective. Guzman asked what the US policy was toward economic development assistance in Haiti. Warne replied that the US was maintaining a balanced approach toward the GOH, i.e. pressing on sustaining its aid levels to meet basic human needs while at the same time encouraging a satisfactory human rights environment.

Agricultural Rehabilitation

7. Guzman emphasized in connection with his assessment of food supplies that his government continued to give primary importance to restoring and developing the agricultural sector. Efforts were gotten under way immediately after the storms to replant the traditional Dominican food items such as bananas, plantains, yucca, yams and potatoes. Now the GODR was doing what it could to open up roads [Page 560] (for example, to the coffee producing areas) and to provide help to farmers whose crops had been destroyed or plants damaged and who needed help in seeds, implements, or financing to carry them through.

Foreign Investment

8. Guzman emphasized his interest in foreign investment and noted that his government would continue to encourage it in any way possible.

US/DR Relations

9. In response to a question, President Guzman said that relationships between the US and the DR were excellent and the prompt and generous support of the US in the hurricane situation greatly appreciated. There were no problems in his mind in this regard. In a related discussion, Guzman took the opportunity to emphasize that the GODR maintained no relations with Cuba nor did his government intend to enter into such relations.

10. The Ambassador and Mr Warne subsequently met separately with the President’s son-in-law Jose Maria Hernandez, Administrative Secretary to the Presidency, and with Dr Milton Ray Guevara, Secretary of State without portfolio. Hernandez reinforced the President’s remarks on the need for foreign investment. While apparently not entirely conversant with the terms of the DR’s existing foreign investment legislation, Hernandez said he was convinced of the need for active efforts on the part of the GODR to move out and attract investors from abroad. The Ambassador strongly encouraged him but noted the less than satisfactory basis provided for this by the current legislation, pushed through in the flurry of laws passed at the end of the previous administration in July 1978. Ray Guevara was quite articulate on the concern of the GODR about Cuban activities in the Caribbean and in particular the potential for mischief in the English-speaking states. He also promised that he would provide any ideas on the Dominican role as well as on the Caribbean problem as a whole. He did not appear to be overly concerned about any actual Cuban presence or activities in the DR at this time, though he once again went back to the longstanding concern of the administration at the number of scholarships being provided by the Soviets for Dominican students to study in the USSR (about 200 a year he said). He said he hoped some way could be found to offset this with similar scholarship offers from the US. Ray also brought up and reinforced the need for improving and maintaining relations with Haiti.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790457–0556. Confidential; Immediate. Repeated for information to Port au Prince, Bridgetown, Kingston, Port of Spain, Georgetown, and Nassau.
  2. In telegram 5551 from Santo Domingo, September 13, the Embassy reported on the damage caused by Hurricane David and the need for assistance. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790418–0433)
  3. In telegram 296797 to Santo Domingo, November 15, the Department transmitted a message from Vance to Guzman that noted that Congress approved $20 million in disaster relief funding for the Dominican Republic and Dominica. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790527–0124)
  4. Vance’s message transmitted in telegram 296797 also informed Guzman of U.S. FY 1980 assistance in the form of $15 million in PL–480 assistance, $10 million in CCC credits to purchase agricultural commodities, and an additional $35 million in CCC credit guarantees.
  5. See footnote 4, Document 238.