The American Chargé in Cuba (Briggs) to the Cuban Secretary of State (Cortina)22

No. 198

Excellency: I have the honor to refer to previous correspondence and conversations concerning defense measures of interest to the Governments of Cuba and the United States and to inform Your Excellency that recent developments in the Caribbean area have suggested to my Government certain additional measures of an urgent character to meet the problem of enemy activities. I have accordingly been instructed by my Government to state that the Government of the United States would appreciate the cooperation of Your Excellency’s Government in connection with the following matters:

(1) Development of emergency airplane landing facilities in Oriente Province. Permission is sought for a small group of officers from the Naval Station at Guantánamo to make the necessary reconnaissance investigations of areas under consideration. Should suitable areas be found, authorization is requested from Your Excellency’s Government to make arrangements for the use thereof, presumably on a lease basis, for the period of the war, as emergency landing fields. I need not add that should Your Excellency’s Government desire to detail an official or officials to accompany these survey groups, this would be highly gratifying to my Government.

Although definite selection of areas will await the making of the surveys, three such areas are tentatively under consideration at the present time: the first is approximately twenty-five miles to the west of the Naval Station on lands understood to be owned by Central Ermita, the second is in the vicinity of Cape Maisí about fifty miles east of the Naval Station, and the third at a point to be selected probably to the northeast of the city of Guantánamo.

(2) Permission is sought for torpedo patrol craft based at Guantánamo to utilize certain bays on the northeast coast of Cuba, for the primary purpose of extending the radius of operation of these craft in submarine patrol work. At the present time the necessity of returning to Guantánamo materially limits the radius of action, and it is hoped that the permission of the Cuban Government, in accordance with the understanding already existing between the General Staffs of Cuba and the United States, may be extended so that these vessels on patrol may put in at such places at Bahía Mata, Puerto Sama, and perhaps elsewhere on the northeastern littoral as far west as Nuevitas Bay. It would not be the present intention to station any shore detachments in connection with such patrols, although it would be appreciated if the permission in question can include authorization for the crews of the patrol vessels to proceed ashore with certain equipment, while the torpedo patrol craft are calling at or operating out of these ports.

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(3) Installation of mobile coast artillery guns at Escondido Bay east of the Naval Station area, and at a point not yet selected approximately the same distance to the west of the western boundary of the Naval Station. In order that these guns may be manned constantly, it would be proposed to build temporary quarters for the gun crews, and to connect the gun emplacements by telephone with the Naval Station itself.

In bringing the above projects to the favorable attention of Your Excellency, I have the honor to state that my Government is deeply appreciative of the constant and effective cooperation which it is receiving from Your Excellency’s Government in matters pertaining to joint defense, which cooperation is of the highest value in coping successfully with enemy activity in this area.

With reference to the discussions which have been in progress during the past year relative to the establishment of a Cuban military zone for joint defense in the neighborhood of the Naval Station at Guantánamo, I may add that while this project has not been abandoned by the Government of the United States, certain changes in the general situation, as well as the withdrawal of a considerable proportion of the United States personnel previously based at the Naval Station, render it in the judgment of my Government unnecessary to complete these negotiations at this time. My Government recalls with sincere gratification Your Excellency’s high spirit of collaboration in connection with the proposed establishment of this military zone and believes that it may have occasion in the future to renew consideration of this project.

Please accept [etc.]

Ellis O. Briggs
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Chargé in his despatch No. 3896, April 24; received April 25.