Memorandum of Conversation, by the Liaison Officer (Wilson)

The Cuban Ambassador came in to see me this morning. I conveyed to him the substance of the information contained in the memorandum of conversation dated July 14,38 and explained that it would be impracticable to provide lend-lease funds to purchase the land mentioned in the Ambassador’s memorandum of April 13. With reference to the construction material and plumbing for the barracks, I said that these articles were very difficult to obtain in the United States, and inquired whether they could be procured locally in Cuba. If so, such funds could possibly be used in this connection as well as to purchase the necessary lighting equipment for the airfields.

The Ambassador expressed his disappointment. He said that he would communicate with President Batista with a view to ascertaining whether sufficient stocks of hardware exist in Cuba, in order that they could be “frozen” to provide the requisite amount for the barracks.

I then mentioned the great difficulty of providing the rifles for the recruits. The Ambassador expressed doubt whether it would be possible to induct the recruits and train them with dummy guns. He feared that this procedure would arouse ridicule and defeat the purpose of the recruiting.

He informed me that he had forwarded to Habana the War Department’s offer to sell the coast artillery and agreed that this material could be paid for by means of the existing lend-lease allotment.

During the conversation the Ambassador described the desire of the Cubans to be of real assistance in the war and not mere onlookers. He recalled that in the last war the Cuban Government had sent to Florida for military training about 25,000 recruits. [Page 281] Transportation problems make such a procedure difficult at present, and the Cuban Government is therefore obliged to train its recruits locally.

Orme Wilson
  1. Not printed.