The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Cuba (Messersmith)
414. Reference your telephone conversations yesterday and particularly your confidential message to Mr. Welles and me. You will recall that the short note to item 501 was proposed after the Cubans had submitted a counterproposal relating solely to possible action by the Executive not to the Congress; and that we made this proposal on November 7, the day on which proposed sugar legislation was introduced. The Cubans were slow to accept the short note and meanwhile the legislative picture here was changing. In view of recent legislative developments, growing out of Japan’s attack on us, which could not have been foreseen at the time we proposed the short note, I instructed Hawkins to telephone you last Saturday to keep the sugar provisions of the trade agreement fluid until we could have an opportunity to see what the Senate Finance Committee’s report would contain and what the ultimate outcome in regard to the pending sugar legislation would be.
We have now seen that report, which contains the following statement:
“Admittedly, the bill does not give full recognition to the needs and ambitions of all groups in the sugar industry. These needs and ambitions were forcefully represented to the Committee and with many of them the Committee is sympathetic. Nevertheless, since these matters are not of immediate consequence during the period of war in which the Nation is engaged, it was deemed expedient to postpone their consideration to a time when more thorough examination of them is possible.”
In view of this expression of Congressional intent merely to postpone consideration of the quota provisions of sugar legislation until [Page 225] after the emergency, and in view of the cooperative spirit shown by the Committee in rejecting the House bill which would have been adverse to Cuba, I think that we would risk offending members of Congress and perhaps jeopardize Cuba’s future position and other matters of interest to the Department and the Administration if we went ahead with the trade agreement on the basis of the short note which would be interpreted as an attempt to forestall Congressional action after the emergency is over.
Therefore, I want you to make every effort to persuade the Cubans that it would be in their own interest to accept in lieu of the short note an exchange of notes the substantive portions of which would read as follows:
Note From Foreign Minister
“In view of the extreme importance of sugar exports to the economy of Cuba, and of the predominant position of the United States as a market for Cuban sugar, my Government is deeply concerned over the possibility of the adoption of measures in the United States which would adversely affect the position of Cuba as a supplier of sugar for the United States market as compared with its position under the provisions of the Sugar Act of 1937.”
“I have the honor to state that I am directed by my Government to assure Your Excellency that the interest of your Government in maintaining the position of the Republic of Cuba as a supplier of sugar for the United States market as compared with its position under the provisions of the Sugar Act of 1937 is fully appreciated and that this Government will exert every appropriate effort to safeguard that position.”
This exchange of notes would afford substantially the same protection of Cuba’s position in the United States sugar market as the note for which they would be substituted.
Account has been taken also of the fact that the Cuban Government in its memorandum of December 1430 (paragraphs 2 and 8) indicated that one of the conditions of the conclusion of the Cuban purchasing agreement would be that the provisions of the trade agreement should conform to the “principle” of the earlier sugar note. The exchange of notes meets this requirement.
Please take this matter up immediately with the Cuban authorities and make every effort to obtain prompt conclusion of the agreement on this basis.
The Cuban Ambassador is being advised in the above sense, without indication of the possibility of recession. Nevertheless, if you are certain that the trade agreement and purchase agreement would be [Page 226] lost if we should insist upon the substitution of the exchange of notes for the short note, you are authorized, as a last resort, to agree to the retention of the short note; but with full notice to the Cuban Government that it must assume responsibility in the light of the consideraions set forth above, for any consequences adverse to Cuban interests.
- The proposed first note to item 501, providing for a possible customs quota, has now been deleted from the agreement as unnecessary.
- A definitive text of the agreement incorporating the exchange of notes will be transmitted as soon as possible.
- Mañas should of course proceed to Washington at once as requested by the Defense Supplies Corporation (Department’s 410 of December 1431).