Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, by Mr. Ellis O. Briggs of the Division of the American Republics

Participants: Ambassador Messersmith
Mr. Duggan63

Ambassador Messersmith telephoned from Habana at ten o’clock this morning concerning the initiative of Ambassador Martínez Fraga, now in Habana, in approaching the Department through his Embassy here for the purpose of obtaining a United States Government loan. Mr. Messersmith said that he had outlined his views in detail in his despatch no. 726 of August 31 and in a letter of September 1 to the Under Secretary.64 He stated emphatically that “we should not for a moment consider the loan” and that “if we permitted the Cubans to carry through this maneuver”, he thought irreparable harm would be done. He said the Senate was still stalling in regard to the settlement of the public works debt bill65 and that although he thought this measure would be approved in the next two or three days, there would probably be a period of further delay and efforts to shakedown the creditors on the part of the Representatives. In Ambassador Messersmith’s opinion, Dr. Martínez Fraga is now trying to make a “bargain” with us whereby in effect, if we will promise them a loan, they will pass the public works debt settlement bill; that the latter should be handled on its merits and that he had made clear on repeated occasions that we are not prepared to discuss economic cooperation until the public works debt matter is out of the way.

Ambassador Messersmith said that he believed that, with the situation as it now is, and with everything that can be said to the Cuban Government already vigorously conveyed to them, it would be desirable for him to proceed to Washington. He accordingly asks for authorization to leave Habana on Thursday evening, September 5, via Miami, which will bring him to Washington next Saturday noon, September 7.

Ellis O. Briggs
  1. Laurence Duggan, Chief of the Division of the American Republics.
  2. Latter not found in Department files.
  3. For correspondence, see pp. 743 ff.