637.116/98

The Chargé in Cuba (Williamson) to the Secretary of State

No. 232

Sir: In compliance with the Department’s telegraphic instruction No. 97, dated June 26, 2 p.m., concerning the serious rice situation in Cuba, I have the honor to report that today I took up the matter fully with Doctor Montoro, Secretary to the President. He stated that he was aware of the situation and of the fact that in many cases Cuban importers, on account of the grievous loss occasioned to them by the sudden fall in the market for that commodity, were trying to evade their obligations on one technicality or another. He said that the importers had come to the Government several times with requests to aid them in their predicament. First they had asked that the Government fix an arbitrary price arrived at purely on the consideration of the figure at which their contracts had been made, a procedure which, of course, the President could not countenance. [Page 71]They then asked that the ex-German vessels be used to distribute the rice so that the price could better be maintained. This also was refused.

Doctor Montoro assured me that he would “keep his eye on the courts” in order that justice might be sure of enforcement.

Inquiry has elicited the statement that Cuba has sufficient rice to meet her demands for a period variously estimated at from one to three years. The loss to the importers in the price, not to speak of the loss occasioned by weevils and the dampness which the long storage will render inevitable, leads me to respectfully suggest that in fairness to Cuban merchants, who in many cases it is alleged have taken the rice on the advice of American exporters who represented the purchases as a good investment, as well as in protection of exporters in the United States, all rice shipments be at once cancelled, and the grain either kept at home or diverted elsewhere.

I have [etc.]

Harold L. Williamson