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

No. 2352

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the Department’s cable No. 85, November 8, 7 P.M., 1927, concerning a newspaper report to the effect that the League of Nations has been invited by the Cuban Government to send an observer to attend the meetings of the Sixth Pan American Conference, to be held in Habana next January.

Before the deciphering of the above mentioned cable had been completed I received a message that the Cuban Secretary of State wished me to come to see him. In accordance with his request I called to see him later in the morning. He opened our conversation by giving me information on a subject of decidedly minor importance and then, of his own accord, brought up the subject of the Department’s cable, concerning which he had received a cable from the Cuban Ambassador in Washington. He stated that the reports which had been appearing in the foreign press and even in the Habana newspapers to the effect that Cuba had invited the League of Nations to send an observer were not merely inaccurate but absolutely contrary to the facts; that the Secretary of the League of Nations had approached the Cuban Secretary at Geneva, Mr. William de Blanc, and had stated that the secretaryship of the League of Nations would greatly appreciate the opportunity to have an observer at the meetings of the Conference; that Mr. de Blanc had promptly cabled to the Secretary of State, who immediately replied to the effect that the Cuban Government was not in a position to extend any such invitation under any circumstances and that its position as host to the delegations of the other American nations would make it an act of discourtesy for it even to suggest to those nations that such an invitation might be extended. He further read to me the text of a cable, which was at that moment being enciphered for transmission to Ambassador Ferrara, repeating the statements which he had just made to me and adding assurances of the great desire of the Cuban Government to cooperate with that of the United States in every way concerning all matters connected with the Pan American Conference.

In view of the Secretary’s voluntary action in giving me all the information which I could have desired, I made no mention to him of the cable from the Department, since I felt that Ambassador Ferrara had probably already emphasized sufficiently the Department’s interest in the matter and I did not desire the Secretary to feel that this Embassy was further attempting to influence the attitude of the Cuban Government in this matter.

In connection with the foregoing the Cuban Secretary of State informed me that just after his return from his long vacation, on October [Page 532]21st, the Spanish Chargé d’Affaires here sought from Dr. Campa, the Cuban Undersecretary of State, an invitation for the Spanish Government to be represented at the Conference by an observer; that Dr. Campa made answer in substantially the same terms as the answer given to the League of Nations, as reported above; that the Spanish Chargé d’Affaires returned a few days later and sought from the Secretary of State the invitation which had already been refused by his subordinate. Needless to say, the Spanish Chargé received on the second occasion the same answer as on the first.

It would seem that the reply made to the Spanish Ambassador in Washington by Mr. White, as reported in the Department’s strictly confidential instruction No. 1086 of October 26, 1927,6 was not sufficient to discourage the Spanish Government from making further efforts to obtain an invitation to be represented by an observer.

As to the report published in the New York Times, I quote below a translation of an Associated Press despatch published in the Diario de la Marina of yesterday:

“Geneva, Nov. 7. (AP). At the instance of the Cuban Government the League of Nations has decided to send to Habana a member of the secretariat as ‘observer’ of the progress of the sessions of the Pan American Conference which are to take place next January.”

As I did not wish to take up this matter formally with the Secretary of State, Dr. Martinez Ortíz, I sought an interview with the Undersecretary, but found that he would not be at the State Department during the day. Mr. Williamson, Second Secretary of this Embassy, was, however, going to the State Department to seek information concerning other minor matters, and, at my request, he inquired casually of Sr. Carbonell, the Chief of the Pan American Bureau and in direct charge of Cuba’s preparations for participation in the Pan American Conference, as to the truth of this report. Mr. Williamson was informed that there was not the slightest truth in it and that Cuba realized fully that it could extend no such invitation, even should such be its desire, without consulting all of the other nations which are members of the Pan American Conference.

I have [etc.]

C. B. Curtis
  1. Not printed.