Doctor Henriquez y Carvajal to the Secretary of State
Memorandum in Regard to the Interview Held in the Division of Latin American Affairs on September 12, 1919
The suggestion made to me, Dr. Francisco Henriquez y Carvajal, that I confer with the North American military governor in Santo Domingo with a view to explaining to him the views of the Dominicans as voiced by myself and the group of my countrymen who accompanied me in my interviews with the present chief of the division of Latin American affairs, does not appear to be a suitable and effective method of attaining what urgently needs to be done for the benefit of the Dominican people. We Dominicans think that, inasmuch as the military governor and his subordinates who are now exercising governmental functions in Santo Domingo belong to the military class, they would act only in accordance with orders issued by their own superiors. Being subject to the restrictions of military discipline, they would refrain from expressing an opinion, or would do so only before and by order of their superiors. Therefore any explanations which I or any person representing me might make would at best be benevolently listened to but not considered; and even if they were considered, the governor would merely make them known through the proper superior organ to the United States government, just as I the undersigned have done directly and am doing before the state department.
The opinion of the Dominican people is little known and its will is ignored by the United States government, for under the military rule prevailing in that country public opinion does not exist and the thought and will of the people are necessarily kept secret or else seek underground channels of divulgation, and even this is done with great caution for fear of the unmerciful system of espionage implanted in the country by the military government. During the exercise of the governmental power in the two North American interventions in Cuba, the Cuban people was never deprived of its liberties and its opinion and will could always be known.
There is no just reason why the Dominican people should not be in the same situation now as the Cuban people was under like circumstances. It is inconceivable nowadays that any people can live without the use of freedom of thought, without the liberty to discuss its own affairs, and without the right to express its will in matters [Page 135] affecting its own life. If it is a question of bestowing upon the Dominican people a political and administrative organization which will enable it to maintain domestic order so that it may perform its national and international duties, the natural course is not to withdraw it from the ambient of liberty so essential to the life of peoples, for only within such an ambient can civic virtues develop. The natural and first thing to do is to place that people in a position to work for its own good and for its own civic education by calling upon it to take part in the gradual and progressive political and administrative reorganization of its republic, beginning by abolishing the military rule there governing. If the application of martial law is suspended, correctional courts created for the purpose being substituted for courts martial, and an advisory board appointed to study and draft the most urgent organic laws, the moral situation of the people will change at once, all the evils that have hitherto existed in the country will disappear automatically, and a spirit of confidence and cordiality will be diffused among the Dominicans, while at the same time a feeling of gratitude will arise in their minds toward the people of the United States.
Under these circumstances, or when steps are taken to bring them about through a decision of the United States government, the other suggestion made by the chief of the division of Latin American affairs that I the undersigned go before the Dominican people and explain to them the general plan of gradual reorganization of the republic as proposed by me in order to restore the national government would easily be carried out. Such a contact with the people might be very effective, for it would enable those who have not yet understood them to estimate the great advantages of the reforms in its political life which are to be put into practice as well as all the advantages to flow from internal order thus created, which would guarantee life and freedom, prevent factional strife forever, and serve to develop rapid progress in the nation.