Extracts from the Remarks of the Cuban Ambassador (Torriente) on the Occasion of His Reception by President Coolidge, December 13, 1923


Mr. President:

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In entering upon the duties of my office by addressing Your Excellency in the name of the President of Cuba and, therefore, of my Nation, I cannot but recall the days, which are already somewhat distant, during which the Cubans struggled bravely to obtain their independence and the great American people, whose President was then the eminent statesman William McKinley, accepted with enthusiasm the declarations of the memorable Joint Resolution of April 20, 1898, in which the Congress recognized and affirmed, then and for all time, the principles for which the heroic soldiers of [Page 852] Maximo Gomez, Antonio Maceo and Calixto Garcia were giving up their lives.

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But I would not be loyal if, in speaking to Your Excellency in the name of the President of Cuba, I did not recognize that, at times, as Your Excellency well knows, in the daily relations between the Governments of Washington and Havana, differences in judgment have arisen, which in the long run might have produced sentiments distinct from those which should prevail between two peoples so closely united by their geographical situation, by history, in which there are pages common to both of them, and by great material interests of all sorts, had it not been that the statesmen of the two countries have on all occasions endeavored to prevent, or to do away with, difficulties of every kind, yielding at times somewhat in their opinions and even in what they considered to be their rights in accordance with their interpretation of the convention which permanently regulates our mutual relations.

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Fortunately, Mr. President, up to the present time, in the course of our independent existence, Your Excellency’s predecessors, as also Your Excellency, have never forgotten the role which the United States assumed with respect to Cuba, since the famous Joint Resolution of 1898 was voted, and thus it has been that your cooperation, whenever we have needed it, has ever been loyal and sincere. Nor have the Presidents of the United States failed to recognize the fact that in order that Cuba might continue to maintain its position as a sovereign and independent people in the consort of the free nations of the world, nothing should be done to injure its international personality; as otherwise the cooperation which Cuba can lend in the furtherance of the great ends which all America is called upon to realize, would greatly suffer, for not in vain has God placed Cuba at a point in the world at which the great routes of communication cross each other and is, for this reason, destined, at a future not far distant, to serve as a bond of union between diverse races and civilizations, as is evidenced by the fact that Havana should have been chosen unanimously by the nations of this continent as the seat of the Sixth Pan American Conference.

Your eminent Secretary of State, Mr. President, speaking a few days ago, before the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences at Philadelphia, declared his conformity with the declarations made by the American Institute of International Law at its first session held in Washington in 1916, which is as though Your Excellency himself had so affirmed, among which are the following: that “every nation has the right to exist, and to protect and to conserve [Page 853] its existence”; that “every nation has the right to independence in the sense that it has a right to the pursuit of happiness and is free to develop itself without interference or control from other States, provided that in so doing it does not interfere with or violate the rights of other States”; and that “every nation is in law and before law the equal of every other nation belonging to the society of nations”. These declarations of the famous Institute, in voting which the highest juridical authority of Cuba took part, are the ruling principles in the international policy of the Government of President Zayas, and to second him in its development he has sent me here, confident that Your Excellency will lend Cuba, as up to now has been done, the friendly advice and aid of which Your Excellency’s Secretary of State spoke in the address to which I have alluded above, thus making my mission extremely easy.