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

The Ambassador28 called at Messrs. Duggan’s29 and Walmsley’s request after the Secretary had earlier stated that he perceived no objection to informing the Ambassador of the nature of the instructions which the Secretary had signed this morning. Mr. Duggan took great pains to explain that:

When the short note was proposed to Cuba Cuba hesitated but later accepted.
Almost at the same time the O’Mahoney–Fulmer bill disturbing the quota relationships in the Sugar Act of 1937 was passed by the House.
The Secretary instructed that the nature of the sugar note and the conclusion of the trade agreement must await clearing up of the legislative situation.
The Senate Finance Committee in amending the House version, at the request of the several interested Departments including the Department of State, reported the bill out with a statement to the effect that while the Committee sympathized with the ambitions of the several interests which would be benefited by the House version, it did not believe that these proposed changes should be examined during war time and that therefore consideration of the changes should be postponed to after the war.
In view of this Congressional intent it becomes desirable to substitute an exchange of notes binding the Executive Branch of the Government to using its best efforts to preserve the status quo for Cuba under the Sugar Act of 1937 rather than endeavor to tie the [Page 224] hands of the Congress, which clearly wants to consider new legislation later in the form of the “short note”. The latter, as the Secretary, who is an expert in legislative procedures and psychology, feels, would do far more harm to Cuba than good. Therefore the proposed exchange of notes, while binding only the Executive is really in practice a better guarantee for Cuba than the short note.

Mr. Walmsley gave Ambassador Concheso for his convenience the texts of the “short note” and of the proposed exchange of notes which he said he would remit to the President by airmail if possible this afternoon; in the meantime he would telephone to the President.

The Ambassador indicated that he had been following very closely the course of the sugar legislation in the Congress and understood the Department’s position.

  1. Aurelio F. Concheso, the Cuban Ambassador.
  2. Laurence Duggan, Adviser on Political Relations.