« AnteriorContinuar »
States has no direct responsibility. For the honesty and efficiency of the customs service we must stand sponsor. We are in the Republic in a peculiar position. We are handling other people's money by officers of our own, and most of the people, in whose interest we are accepting the trust, are quite unable to defend themselves. They are 725,000 half naked mulattoes and black men, not one in ten of whom can write his own name. We should put men in office there who by training are qualified for their positions, and they should not be removed for political reasons. To introduce the spoils system in a service in which we occupy a position similar to that of trustee is not only contrary to the spirit with which we allege we have undertaken our task; it discredits our efforts with the local government. It makes our claim that we are undertaking supervisory powers from disinterested motives one to draw a smile from citizens of other powers. There can be no doubt that applying the spoils principle to a service such as we maintain in the Dominican Republic gives body to the suspicion of our motives in all our Caribbean policies.
When the United States was first asked to take charge of the collection of customs, the appointee was a well known economist, Mr. Jacob H. Hollander of Johns Hopkins University, who had taken part in the revision of tax laws in the island of Porto Rico. He had reorganized tax collection in the Philippine Islands and had introduced the revenue system there in force. After the plan had gotten well under way, Col. Geo. R. Colton, who had been in charge of the Customs Service in the Philippine Islands, was sent to the Republic. Later
he was succeeded by another officer of the Philippines Customs Service, Mr. W. E. Pulliam. None of these appointments were party appointments. Mr. Pulliam, at least, the man who for the longest period has held the responsible position of Receiver-General in the Dominican Customs Service, was a Democrat and was appointed by a Republican President. He was followed by Mr. W. W. Vick, who in turn resigned the 9th of July, 1914. It was alleged that this action was taken because of a letter from the Secretary of State of the United States indicating an intent to give the offices in the customs service as "suitable rewards” for "workers" who are "valuable” “when the campaign is on.” 1
What does our experience in the Dominican Republic teach us? Two things, namely,
1. Our period of supervision shows what can be done in a tropical island even with such inefficient labor as the black or mulatto native population when order is kept and property rights protected. The development which has occurred in the Dominican Republic is not one which touches only big business, though big business in sugar estates and cocoa and banana plantations will, of course, prosper by any improvement in conditions there. The change is one which makes the laborer sure for the first time in a century that the fruits of his labor will not be wrested from him. Order we have introduced as the basis of real ambition for the native and as an assurance that the period when it was foolish for him to acquire more property than the shirt on his back is passed. Our experience shows that with the introduction of order these territories may become, for the world at large, more important than they ever have been. There is no reason why, under proper supervision, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and the republics in Central America may not develop their resources as Barbados and Porto Rico have done.
1 The letter of Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, about which this incident turns, is reproduced in Good Government (New York), February, 1915, p. 26.
2. In order to be in the strongest diplomatic position we must see to it that the officers whom we put in control of the “international” service which we create shall be honest and chosen for efficiency, not for party service. If we fail in this, "America for Americans” must come to have an unwelcome connotation to the people we have a peculiar opportunity to help. Those positions are not "suitable rewards” for henchmen who have done good service in our own political struggles. If they are thus disposed of, we cannot expect to have that confidence in our agents which we should have, nor can we expect our neighbors to look upon our policies in America as other than narrow, nationalistic programmes dictated by the interests of politics, which are at once partisan, provincial and corrupt. No man should be appointed there because he is a "deserving Democrat” or “reliable Republican.”
International commercial interests in the Dominican Republic are predominantly those of the United States. We furnish about two-thirds of the imports, and take four-fifths of the exports. Germany in normal times occupies second place in the foreign commerce. Her trade with the Republic was cut down by the European War to the advantage of the United States. Her chief export to the island is rice and she takes practically all of the tobacco sent abroad. No country except the United States, Germany, and Great Britain has as much as three per cent. of the foreign trade.
Sugar production is rapidly increasing and this article with its allied product, molasses, constitutes nearly one-half of the entire exports. A large amount of cane is shipped to the mills of Porto Rico. The cocoa industry is the most widespread. Of its export value the United States takes about four-fifths.
1 Report of the Eighth Fiscal Period, Dominican Customs Receivership cited above and Commerce Reports, Supplement, June 26, 1915, and July 15, 1915.
THE HAITIAN PROTECTORATE
I. POLITICAL INTERESTS
THE recently concluded treaty to establish a protectorate over Haiti is another step of the United States in the imperialistic development following the SpanishAmerican War. Steadily, quietly, almost unconsciously, the extension of international responsibilities southward has become practically a fixed policy with the State Department. It is a policy which the record of the last sixteen years shows is one followed, not without protest from influential factions, it is true, but none the less followed, by Administrations of both parties, and of decidedly different shades within one of the parties. Whatever developments may come which will divide the people as to governmental policies, there seems to be little doubt that any future Administration will turn back upon the decisions taken. Protests will continue but the logic of events is too strong to be overthrown by traditional argument or prejudice.
Already the United States has gone far indeed from the position she consistently occupied up to the opening of the twentieth century. It may be admitted that we have been from the beginning of our history a colonizing power, that we were always extending our control west, south and north to secure new worlds for our rapidly