Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, by the Assistant Chief of the Division of the American Republics (Walmsley)

Ambassador Messersmith telephoned at 10:30 to say that he had seen Cortina and López Castro yesterday morning when they handed [Page 221] him the memorandum, which he telephoned in translation to the Department Sunday afternoon. This memorandum had been drafted by López Castro that night after the Ambassador had spoken to him Saturday on the basis of the Department’s telegram 401 of December 12.23

The Ambassador wished to stress that the colonos24 and hacendados25 in giving their approval prior to the outbreak of hostilities December 7 had indicated that conclusion of the purchase agreement on those terms must be conditioned upon not only the 75 cent duty but also upon the conclusion of the early “shortnote” under item 501 assuring to Cuban sugar treatment not inferior to that under the Sugar Act of 1937. The delay in the Cuban acceptance of the terms may be traced to the change in the text of the note which apparently was dictated by the House passage of the O’Mahoney–Fulmer bill. The probability now that the note to item 501 may, in view of the action of the other day of the Senate Finance Committee, be worded as originally proposed, makes it possible for the colonos and hacendados and the Cuban Government to approve the transaction.

Mr. Messersmith wanted to emphasize as well the splendid collaboration of President Batista, who on Monday the 8th thoroughly squelched those Cubans who in view of the war developments urged that Cuba walk out of the agreement.

The Ambassador added that López Castro and Mañas are ready to come to Washington at any moment to work out the details of the purchase arrangement. I suggested to the Ambassador it would be desirable for them to wait until we sent a signal. The Ambassador indicated that López Castro felt it might be unwise to come back to Washington before the legislative situation is entirely cleared up.

The Ambassador proposed to call Mr. Hawkins by noon today with regard to final details of the trade agreement.

I asked Mr. Messersmith whether he felt any concern is justified by item 9e of the Cuban memorandum of December 14.26 He said that no concern need be felt as the Cuban Government was fully ready to conclude the agreement on the terms proposed.

  1. Post, p. 244.
  2. The planters.
  3. The mill owners.
  4. Post, p. 246.