839.00/11–1945: Telegram

The Chargé in the Dominican Republic ( Scherer ) to the Secretary of State

455. At meeting November 17 attended by Peña Batlle, Ortega Frier (President’s legal adviser), Kilbourne, Hennessey, Walter Fox of local sugar controls, and myself, President Trujillo requested assistance from sugar interests in combatting Communism. Companies should act as intelligence agencies in transmitting to President personally direct by telephone information concerning individuals or incidents in connection with Communistic activities. President stated emphatically he would never permit Communism to get the upper hand in this country. With Kilbourne as spokesman, sugar interests mentioned much labor difficulty brewing at present among sugar workers and possibility that 1946 crop might be substantially reduced if agitation gets out of hand. I pointed out that the basic policy of the United States Government, which I said had been made known already and definitely on numerous occasions, is disapproval of any American companies which engage in political activities in foreign countries. Kilbourne said his company29 is Dominican and other sugar men at meeting indicated understanding of my statement, but probability that they would carry out President’s request. Subsequently the three sugar men called at the Embassy mentioning they are in difficult position since labor agitation might develop to such an extent as to endanger the harvest. In addition they recognized of course it is actually the opposition rather than Communism which Trujillo is trying to stamp out.

I repeated our position on American companies engaging in political activities abroad, and Kilbourne expressed belief he would probably not have to turn in any names to the President. (I do not follow his reasoning in this connection as it appears evident that President will require performance, now that Kilbourne has indicated he will carry out his wishes.)

All three men stated they do not engage in local politics nor will they change their views in this regard.

Hennessey and Kilbourne became involved in discussing possible provisions of a proposed labor law, which they hope will be promulgated soon as they consider it would ease labor situation. Hennessey said his company is prepared to start work almost at once on an 8–hour [Page 990] day, that his labor is arranged, there are enough quarters, et cetera. Kilbourne and Fox plan to continue with a 12–hour day as previously. It may be that Hennessey’s change from a 12–hour day to 8 hours has caused the need for additional workers and hence the importation of Haitians.

It might be advisable for Embassy to address identical letters to Hennessey, Kilbourne and Fox reiterating our policy on political meddling by American companies in order to be clearly on the record. Department’s cabled instructions are accordingly requested.

  1. West Indies Sugar Company.