Memorandum by the Secretary of State of a Conversation with the Appointed Cuban Ambassador (Torriente), November 15, 1923


Dr. Padro, the Chargé d’Affaires of Cuba, called with Dr. Torriente, who is to be the Ambassador. He has not yet been accredited.

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Dr. Torriente, referring to Cuba, said that it was his desire to come to the United States in a spirit of friendship; that they appreciated what the United States had done for Cuba and he hoped to be able to deal in all matters with the Secretary on the footing of frankness and cordiality.

The Secretary reciprocated these sentiments and extended a hearty welcome to Dr. Torriente, expressing his gratification at the opportunities for consideration of all questions in the spirit in which Dr. Torriente had spoken.

The Secretary then said that the situation of the United States vis-à-vis Cuba was a very simple one; that it was hardly necessary to speak of our friendship for the Cuban people and of our desire that they should enjoy the utmost prosperity and have a firm and stable government. The Secretary said that there was no thought among our people of intervention; that no responsible statesman desired intervention in Cuba; that that was the last thing that he thought of and that it would not occur unless Cuba herself made it necessary. The Secretary pointed out that the essential condition of stability and prosperity in Cuba was the elimination of graft, corruption and extravagance. The Secretary said that this Government had been much disquieted at the conditions in Cuba; he referred to the fact that the loan of $50,000,000 had been put through on the distinct understanding that there should be a moralization program,—President Zayas himself had asserted this in unequivocal terms. The United States had no desire to get anything for themselves; they wished to see the Cuban Government on the soundest [Page 851] possible basis. The cancer which was eating into the prosperity and hopes of Cuba was corruption and extravagance, and he hoped that the administration would set itself resolutely to cure this. The Secretary said that the recent lottery law had given us a great deal of concern because it promised a new era of corruption. The Secretary said that it was not the part of friendship to wait until they got to the bottom of the hill and then tell them that they were there and action was inevitably required, but to advise them before they got too far down. He was glad to note the improvement that had been made in the financial situation but this would not last long unless they heeded counsel with respect to the essential conditions of honesty and economical government. The Secretary referred to General Crowder and warmly praised his work.

Dr. Torriente took no issue with what the Secretary had said, again expressing his friendship for the United States and his desire to be able to deal with the Secretary in the most friendly way. Dr. Torriente expressed the hope that these matters could be dealt with with as little publicity as possible; that publicity was likely to offend the sensibilities of the people and make it more difficult to deal with situations. He said that he had known General Crowder and had worked with him and greatly appreciated the value of his suggestions, but Dr. Torriente said that the Latin-American sentiment had to be taken into consideration and sometimes General Crowder was a little excitable and did not make sufficient allowance for the Latin American temperament.

The interview ended with pleasant exchange of expressions of esteem and felicitations.