The Ambassador in Cuba (Welles) to the Secretary of State
[Received 4:15 p.m.]
172. Personal for the Under Secretary. I will appreciate it if you will lay the following considerations before the President at the earliest opportunity.
After considerable reflection I feel that in the best interests of our own Government I should be recalled and Caffery appointed to replace me, such change to take place not later than the first of September. My reasons for this belief are as follows:
1. The Cuban people have a Government which commands their confidence. This Government is composed of capable and highminded men who are seeking the best interests of the Republic. It seems unlikely that any grave political disturbances will take place in the near future unless unexpected events materialize.
2. This Government has for its program preparation through the passage of a new electoral code based upon McBain’s recommendations and through the formation of new parties and reorganization of the old ones, for the holding of free and fair elections next year, which will make it possible for a permanent constitutional government to be installed and in the meantime in frank cooperation with the United States to take all possible steps to hasten the return of economic prosperity to the Republic.
3. As soon as the President and the Secretary of the Treasury have the opportunity to give me an accurate picture of the financial situation of the Government I desire to announce immediately that the final negotiations for a new commercial treaty are being undertaken and at the same time announce the discussion of measures tending to relieve the desperate financial straits of the Government of President Céspedes, I think that I should be instructed to undertake the initiation of measures referred to and likewise be instructed to continue the commercial treaty negotiations so that it will be at once apparent that the nature of my mission was as much to improve the economic conditions of Cuba as to assist in bringing about a restoration of political [Page 368] peace. My successor can of course push such negotiations to a Conclusion.
4. My personal situation is becoming increasingly difficult. Owing to my intimate personal friendship with President Céspedes and the very close relationship which I have formed during these past months with all of the members of this Cabinet I am now daily being requested for decisions on all matters affecting the Government of Cuba. These decisions range from questions of domestic matters affecting the discipline of the Army to questions involving appointments in all branches of the Government. This situation is bad for Cuba and bad for the United States. At the present moment no one criticises my relationship with the Government on account of the fact that the United States is today more popular in Cuba than it has been since the early years of the independence of the Republic. On the other hand there will very soon commence to be a large party of disgruntled office seekers who, added to the sincere opponents of American influence in Cuba and to the old-time political leaders who are now out of the picture temporarily—and I hope permanently—, will constitute a very considerable mass of public opinion and who will inevitably utilize the relations which I have with the Government as a means of political attack.
In my judgment the policy which this Embassy should from now on pursue is a policy which should have no connection whatever except in the event of urgent necessity with the political picture and which should limit itself to cooperating in the elaboration of constructive measures in benefit of the economic prosperity of Cuba and in benefit of American exports to the Cuban market.
5. If all goes well I should judge that the proper moment to make a change in the Embassy here would be September 1st. If as I hope the President still wishes me to return to the Department and desires me to cooperate in preparing for the Montevideo Conference I would like to suggest that if my recommendations are approved the announcement be now made that I am returning to the Assistant Secretaryship of State for that purpose and that Caffery has been designated as my successor here in order to complete with the greatest rapidity possible the negotiation of those economic and financial measures upon which both Governments may determine as of mutual benefit to our two countries.
I feel that the recommendations I have made above are in the interest of my Government. It is unwise not only from the point of view of our relations with Cuba but with the whole of Latin America as well for the American Embassy here to possess the measure of control over the Government which it now does possess owing to the peculiar developments of the past 2 months. Caffery unquestionably will [Page 369] obtain all of the needed influence immediately after his arrival but it will be an influence exerted behind the scenes and not apparent to the public.
If by any mischance the political situation again becomes troublesome it would presumably be best for me to remain until it is straightened out because of the contacts which I now have, but should conditions continue to improve I am confident that the recommendations I have made above should be adopted.