Memorandum of Conversation, by the Adviser on Political Relations (Duggan)
The Ambassador35 told me with some agitation that the previous evening a special messenger had arrived from Cuba with an instruction from the President. The President and his cabinet were very disturbed not only by the total quantity of military and naval matériel allocated to Cuba under the Lend Lease program but also by the amounts to be delivered during the first year. These figures are $1,000,000 for military equipment and $100,000 for naval matériel. The Ambassador was instructed to take up immediately with this Government the possibility of augmenting both the total figures and the amounts to be furnished in the first year.
The Ambassador stated that the President and his cabinet were profoundly disturbed by the allocations for Cuba since the amounts for Cuba were only a fraction of the requests submitted. The President could only suppose that the thought of our military and naval officials was that the United States would take care of the defense of Cuba. The President thought that this was not only not in keeping with the dignity of Cuba but that it would certainly prove much more [Page 118] expensive for the United States to assume the total burden for the defense of Cuba than were Cuba to do so itself.
I informed the Ambassador that the request of the President for a reconsideration of the allocation for Cuba would, of course, immediately be studied and given the most sympathetic consideration. I said that the allocations for Cuba and for all other countries had been made by the Army and Navy so that it would be necessary to take the subject up with them. I said that there were certain difficulties in view of the limitation on the total amount available for the other American Republics. I hoped, however, that some readjustments might be made.
On August 12 the Ambassador returned to leave with me the memorandum which is attached.37 I thanked him for the memorandum stating that it would be useful in the discussions with the appropriate officers in the War and Navy Departments. I told the Ambassador that, upon the return of Mr. Welles,38 I was going to recommend to him that he personally take up the question with the Chief of Staff and the Chief of Naval Operations.
The Ambassador expressed appreciation for the sympathetic reception that had been accorded to him and said that he would like to be advised promptly upon the outcome of the reconsideration of the figures by the War and Navy Departments.