837.51 Public Works Debt/347

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

No. 734

Sir: I have the honor to inform the Department that at a session of the Cuban Senate yesterday afternoon there was approved the original Casanova bill with certain alterations which provides for the settlement of the Obligations due Warren Brothers and Purdy & Henderson and certain other creditors. There are seventeen Senators in the present Congress. Of these, fifteen voted for the bill. Those voting against were Senator del Pozo and Senator Barrena. The approval of the bill in the Senate was fairly certain when the majority of the Opposition Senators agreed to consider this bill as a matter in the public interest and not as a partisan issue.

It has not been possible to get a text as yet of the bill in the form in which it was passed by the Senate. There is transmitted herewith a clipping from the Diario de la Marina, of September 4, (enclosure 3)37 which gives the text of the bill as passed, and I believe that this text is substantially correct. I shall, however, as soon as it is possible to secure an exact copy of the bill, transmit it to the Department. The Department is aware that this Embassy had informed the Cuban Government that the original Casanova bill, with certain alterations in dates in order to bring it up to date, would be considered as a satisfactory solution of this matter on the basis of the November 1938 agreement by the Cuban Government with the creditors. The changes which have been made in the original Casanova bill as passed yesterday by the Senate are, I understand, of a secondary and unimportant character with the exception of a change which provides that payment of interest on the new Obligations shall not begin until January 1, 1941. This change is not in agreement with the assurances given us concerning the settlement of this matter and it represents a further considerable sacrifice on the part of the creditors who have already suffered, not only a considerable loss in interest, but also a reduction in the capital amount of the debt due them.

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In view, however, of the fact that the bill has finally passed the Senate, and that it would create almost insuperable obstacles to endeavor to secure a change in the date on which interest shall commence, I am inclined to the opinion that we should not make any representations on this point.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives which is scheduled to meet on Friday, September 6, and the approved Senate bill will be on the House calendar for consideration. The attitude of the majority of the members of the House of Representatives has been one of opposition to the passage of this bill, but I am inclined to the opinion that, although there may be some delay in the passage of the bill in the House, and considerable opposition thereto, that it will be approved by that body. The vote of 15–2 in the Senate will have considerable effect on the passage of the bill in the House—unless some delaying tactics should purposely be employed with the approval of members of the Government. The message of the President of Cuba to the Congress asking for the authorization of a loan of $15,000,000 may cause additional opposition in the House of Representatives.

Respectfully yours,

George S. Messersmith
  1. Not reprinted.