File No. 337.11/288
Habana , March 15, 1917, 1 a.m.
Your March 13, 6 p.m. The President answered that the Secretary of State and a delegation representing great investments in Cuba would this week furnish the Department with information and give it another view of the American investor. He declared that losses did not reach five per cent of cane and were greatly exaggerated. With over two hundred mills these had lost heavily: in Oriente—Palma and Union. In Camaguey—Senado, Francisco and Jobabo. In Santa Clara—Steward, Jatibonico and Narcisa. In Habana—Matanzas, Pinar del Rio—no loss. At most of these mills President said that cane belongs to Colonias, principally Cubans; there had been other fires in Colonias tributary to number of other mills; there were now no cane fires in five of the six provinces and the Cuban Government was just taking hold in Oriente. A hundred thousand men could not prevent cane burning, but he expected to end revolutions which would stop such burnings for all time.[Page 421]
The suggestion referred to in last paragraph of the Department’s March 13, 6 p.m. came from me. No one in or out of Government circles has intimated to me that such action by the United States would tend to increase disorder. It is illogical to suppose that it would have such an effect. I understand that the Government would not object but wishes fair opportunity to show ability to accomplish task unaided. I regard the President as probably unduly optimistic. Whether he can succeed in Oriente as quickly as in other provinces is a question upon which there is yet no sound basis for judgment. Unquestionably strong expectations of compromise were raised by the conferences at Santiago. This may have important bearing on action by the rebels.