611.373 Sugar/605

The Cuban Minister of State (Cortina) to the American Ambassador in Cuba (Messersmith)99


Mr. Ambassador: With regard to the purpose, repeatedly declared by the Government of the United States, of putting into effect, in an efficacious manner for Cuba, the economic cooperation existing between our two countries, we deem it convenient to discuss some fundamental points foreign to the matters of an eventual and transitory nature which we discuss in other memoranda.

We should also refer to those concessions which, by affecting the economic development of Cuba in a permanent manner, have as a consequence a constant effect upon its economy, to the end that, in the future, the economic crises which at present affect the country may be prevented.

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In this respect we are going to refer to those principal points affecting Cuban production which need a revision with the purpose of affording a permanent balance to the economy of the country.

1. —Cigars. For different reasons the importation in the United States of manufactured tobacco has been reduced to insignificant figures, at times not exceeding $200,000 in value. This violent decrease in our exports of cigars to the United States of America has produced a crisis in this industry, which is the greatest in its history.

We have not the aspiration of improving the situation which it normally had, but to restore in part the position which Cuba occupied in the year 1930.

It is deeply abnormal that, due to the close economic relations existing between both countries, a product of the nature of Cuban manufactured tobacco cannot enter the United States to the extent of finding an appreciable market, and that it has been really eliminated from the market of the United States.

To remedy this serious situation we desire that, under the existing system of quotas, there be granted to Cuban manufactured tobacco a minimum annual import quota in the United States of twenty million cigars, free of duty. Inasmuch as this reduction is made subject to a quota, and due to the insignificant quantity that it means in comparison with the United States consumption, this can in no way affect the interior commerce of this product manufactured by the national industry. We should remember that, as regards the importation of leaf tobacco, the manufacturers of American cigars have always agreed that the custom duty granted the Cuban quota be very low.

It has been admitted that American tobacco needs the Cuban leaf in order to maintain its standard of perfection and of production. The fact that cigars manufactured in Cuba are also found in the United States market, in moderate proportions, maintains the taste of the consumer for this article, and facilitates, propagates and increases national consumption, which is also made with Cuban leaf.

2. —Cattle. The area of land that was used for the cultivation of sugar cane has been decreasing progressively due to the restrictions ordered for lack of markets for our chief export product. As a consequence, the unoccupied zones have been converted into new cattle farms. Inasmuch as the internal consumption cannot increase due to the bad economic condition of the country a serious overproduction has resulted with the consequential drop in prices and the threat of actual ruin for the small cattle raisers. After a very careful study the conclusion has been reached that only the exportation of cattle might balance the situation that has arisen. Pursuant to the prior fulfilment, in the strictest manner, of the established quarantine regulations regarding the eradication of ticks for the importation of cattle [Page 199] on the hoof in the United States, it is requested that the Government of the United States grant Cuba a special annual quota with low duties for the importation of Cuban cattle, giving it for that purpose an individualized share in the general quota which under the title “Other countries” appears in the United States Tariffs.

3. —Sugar. With regard to this subject, we aspire to a revision of the existing agreements in order to obtain, through a modification of their terms, a more equitable treatment for Cuban sugar under the American sugar legislation, with the following objectives: First: To assure it a higher percentage than it enjoys at the present time in the assignment of the annual quota which it is granted for supplying the market of consumption of the United States; in this respect we consider acceptable, as a minimum, the participation that was granted Cuba under the Costigan-Jones Act1 which was in force when the Reciprocity Treaty in force between Cuba and the United States was signed, and which logically, since it served as the basis for that Treaty, should not have been changed to the detriment of Cuba, without any reciprocity whatever by reason of these changes; Second: To extend the period of duration of this system until it is made permanent, or to extend it to the maximum limit that circumstances may permit; and, Third: To reduce the custom duties and the internal taxes at present encumbering Cuban sugar, in such a way, that our sugar industry may subsist under conditions of stability and may afford the country, in a social and labor order, the returns that naturally appertain to it.

I beg Your Excellency to acquaint the Government of the United States of the viewpoints of the Government of Cuba above set forth and I have the assurance that in kindly doing so, Your Excellency will make use of the cordial interest and thorough understanding which distinguish your efforts for the reaching of the best solutions to our economic problems.

I avail myself [etc.]

J. M. Cortina
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Ambassador in Cuba in his despatch No. 1912, April 20; received April 22.
  2. Act of May 9, 1934; 48 Stat. 670. Its purpose was to “include sugar beets and sugar cane as basic agricultural commodities under the Agricultural Adjustment Act.”