File No. 763.72/11493

The Secretary of State to the Cuban Minister ( De Céspedes )

No. 280

Sir: Your confidential note No. 196 of September 19, 1918, wherein the Government of Cuba in accordance with the recent legislation, expresses the wish to send a military expedition to the European battle front, has been received with the keenest pleasure by the Government of the United States. This gratifying offer was at once communicated to the General Staff of the United States Army. A study as to the practicability of making the new distributions of shipping and production which the maintenance of a Cuban Army in Europe would require was at once undertaken.

As the result of the most serious study of the matter from a practical standpoint, the following situation was found to obtain: The productions of both the civil and military manufacturing plants of the United States are already pledged far ahead and enormous commitments have been undertaken in order to arm and equip and supply the ever-increasing American armies and the armies of these countries which have been in the field for over four years. Practically every machine and every ship has for many months been allocated to some particular vital war work. The exigences of the situation, the needs of the Allies now actively engaged in the war, and the carefully planned and delicately interrelated schedules of the various governmental activities do not lend themselves, at the present moment, to the readjustments necessary were the Government of the United States to accept the offer of the Government of Cuba.

The Government of the United States deeply regrets, therefore, that it is not in a position to permit it at this time to avail itself of the greatly appreciated offer of the Cuban Government to send a force to Europe. For the ready cooperation and spirit of sacrifice of the Cuban people, the Government and people of the United States are profoundly grateful. The military forces of Cuba have already been of very great help in the protection of the Cuban coasts, as the island of Cuba occupies an important strategic position in the defence of that part of the Western Hemisphere which has opposed all its forces to the Imperial German Government.

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It is therefore earnestly requested that the Republic of Cuba will continue to utilize its Army in its present valuable service and it is hoped that the time may come when conditions may have changed so that her generous wish to send men to the fighting line in Europe may be given such a reception as is merited by the high-minded motives of the Cuban Government, which have inspired it.

Accept [etc.]

Robert Lansing