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

No. 1007

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith for the information of the Department clippings from the Havana Post of July 25, 1921, giving the English version of President Zayas’ message to the Extraordinary [Page 790] Session of Congress relative to Reciprocity Treaty of December 1902, and its application in view of the Fordney Tariff Bill.

I have [etc.]

Philander L. Cable

Message of President Zayas to the Extraordinary Session of Congress, July 21, 1921

To the Honorable Congress of the Republic: In a former message which should be considered during the present extraordinary legislature, we asked Congress for the designation of a mixed commission to prepare a general amendment of the Customs Tariffs, for study and resolution by Congress itself, in the next ordinary legislature, and we wish to again call the attention of the senators and congressmen to the extraordinary importance attached to this measure at the present time.

At present there is in force the Treaty of Commercial Reciprocity between the Republic of Cuba and the United States of North America, signed in Havana on the eleventh of December, 1902. Article 8 of this treaty establishes preferential character on importation of Cuban products in the United States over similar products of other countries, and in compensation, declares the same preference for imported products from the United States in Cuba.

In the proposal of tariffs, which is being studied by a commission of Congress in the United States, although it is true that it is declared that the contents of the said law do not revoke or lessen the symmetry of the Treaty of Reciprocity, or that of the law adopted for its execution, it makes, precisely, an excuse of Article 8, the symmetry of which is annulled and rejected. It cannot be kept from anyone that this annulment by one of the contracting parties of a bilateral pact, even when impugnable in the sphere of right, would be practically a factor applicable by the United States of America, or at least, would be equivalent to a notification of a termination of the contract, which would cease at the end of a period of one year, and in either case, the United States could give preference to products of other countries similar to ours, because the condition of exclusiveness contained in Article 8 of the treaty would have disappeared.

We hope, and are almost certain, that the good state of international relations between the two countries, the great gain that American commerce has made through application of the treaty, an advantage proportionately much larger than that obtained by Cuba, and above all the marked friendliness and good will of the people and [Page 791] the government of that republic toward Cuba, will actuate adversely to the approval of this revocation of Article 8 of the treaty, which might bring us serious detriment, that could be remedied, perhaps, only by the foment of intercourse with other countries, which would offer for our products some protection, as once broken, the net of the treaty of reciprocity, our exclusive preference for products of the North American republic would cease.

However, the creation of such a situation would indeed be sad for us, for although were it not to alter our affectionate feelings toward that nation, it would surely diminish the importance of our intense commerce with that country.

The foregoing implies the necessity of preparing ourselves for a possible early termination of the state of affairs created by the Treaty of Reciprocity, and it is obvious, that the customs tariffs ought to meet the new situation.

Therefore, the request addressed to Congress in my former message demands urgent action and perhaps measures that might permit the immediate implantation of a new customs regime, or of modification of the existing one, if circumstances demand it, before the arrival of the constitutional opportunity of the coming ordinary legislature.

We pray of the Honorable Congress to give close and careful attention to this matter.

Alfredo Zayas