837.51 Public Works Debt/331

The Ambassador in Cuba ( Messersmith ) to the Secretary of State

No. 619

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my confidential despatch No. 612 of August 3, 1940, with which I transmitted memoranda covering a number of conversations held on August 2 with officials of the Cuban Government with reference to the settlement of the Obligations due Warren Brothers and Purdy & Henderson, and to report the following conversation with Dr. Amadeo López Castro on August 3, 1940.

It will be recalled that in the memorandum of my conversation with Dr. López Castro, transmitted with the above-mentioned despatch, it was reported that Dr. López Castro would see the President on August 3. Immediately after he had seen the President, on August 3, he called on me at the Chancery.

He said that his conversation with the President had been most satisfactory. He had taken up with the President the President’s reported intention of sending another message to the Congress recommending the payment immediately of the Obligation due Warren Brothers but leaving it to the judgment of the Congress as to whether the Obligation due Purdy & Henderson should be paid. Dr. López Castro said to [Page 759] the President that in his opinion such a message as the President had in mind would result in the Congress using the message as an excuse for not taking action on the Obligations due Purdy & Henderson. In his opinion, such a partial settlement would not be satisfactory to our Government and would damage Cuban credit. In view of the repeated promises of the Cuban Government to settle both claims, the failure to pay Purdy & Henderson would have serious effects for Cuba in a most difficult time. Dr. López Castro further informed the President that if he took the action he contemplated it would greatly increase the difficulties which the President-elect would have on coming into office. It was absolutely essential that both Obligations be paid in the interests of Cuba. If the Obligation due Purdy & Henderson was not paid now it would have to be paid later and the President elect would be in the position of having an adverse report by his predecessor on record with reference to Purdy & Henderson.

Dr. López Castro stated that the President had indicated that his intentions with respect to the message he had intended to send to Congress had been misunderstood. It was not his intention to send a message along the line that Dr. López Castro had been informed. On the contrary, the President realized that a partial settlement would not be satisfactory to our Government. His previous message to the Congress had not been sufficiently clear and that it was his intention to recommend action on the Obligations due Purdy & Henderson as well as the one due Warren Brothers. What he did intend to do, therefore, was to send a message to the Congress making it clear that he recommended the immediate settlement of the Obligations due both Warren Brothers and Purdy & Henderson.

The President also stated that he was entirely prepared, together with Colonel Batista, to see the individual members of the Congress and to urge upon them the necessity for immediate action on the bill approving the Obligations. The President said that he would in these conversations urge upon the members of Congress to act on the bill following out the provisions of the project of law submitted by Senator Cassanova sometime ago as this carried out the Obligations assumed by Cuba in the agreement of November 1938.

In response to a specific request from Dr. López Castro, the President again assured Dr. López Castro that if a bill came to him from the Congress authorizing the payment of the Obligations due Warren Brothers and Purdy & Henderson on the basis of the agreement of November 1938, he would approve such a bill.

Dr. López Castro said that he considered his conversation with the President had been most satisfactory and that he now had great hope that this matter would be definitely settled by the Congress during the early days of the week beginning August 12.

[Page 760]

Dr. López Castro was apparently not familiar with the conversation which Dr. Ramos had had with the President the evening before, and which conversation I reported in a memorandum36 transmitted with my confidential despatch No. 612. The above-mentioned conversation with Dr. López Castro is particularly interesting as the President during it disclaimed having had any intention of sending a message to the Congress excluding Purdy & Henderson from his recommendations. In this respect the President does not seem to have been altogether frank with Dr. López Castro for, as I have already reported, the President, in a Cabinet meeting recently, indicated that it was his intention to send a message to the Congress leaving it to their judgment entirely as to what action they should take on the Purdy & Henderson Obligation. The nature of the conversation with Dr. López Castro, above reported, was, of course, determined by the conversation which the President had had the preceding evening with Dr. Ramos and during which Dr. Ramos had already secured the President’s agreement not to send such a message, but, on the other hand, one in an affirmative sense with respect to both Obligations.

There is now, I believe, good reason to feel that through a combination of circumstances we may expect settlement of these Obligations by the Congress during the week beginning August 12, 1940.

Respectfully yours,

George S. Messersmith
  1. Not printed.