Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Chief of the Financial Division (Luthringer)

Participants: Lieutenant Southard, U.S.N.66
FD, Mr. Livesey67
Mr. Luthringer

Lieutenant Southard called on Mr. Livesey to discuss with him the former’s brief sojurn in Habana during which he was prepared to [Page 309] discuss with Cuban officials, the Embassy or other interested parties the pending Cuban central bank and monetary legislation.

Lieutenant Southard said that for no particular reason consideration of the central bank project by the Cuban Congress had been deferred until legislation relating to elections and the draft had been dealt with. He estimated that the central bank legislation would not be considered sooner than in ten days, probably not until a month or six weeks elapsed. He remarked that there seemed to be a good deal of interest in the central bank and that many Cuban groups and organizations had prepared memoranda and briefs to be presented at the hearings which the Cuban Congress had decided to hold on the legislation.

Lieutenant Southard said that he found that he could do very little at Habana but talk with the Embassy, various private citizens, and a few members of the Congress who belong to the opposition. He said that apparently the Cuban Minister of Finance did not have a very clear idea of the higher politics involved in the banking legislation and consequently had played safe by suggesting to Mr. Durruthy68 and Mr. Pérez69 that perhaps they had better not discuss these matters with Lieutenant Southard.

Lieutenant Southard said that the present banking and monetary bills had been drafted before the Cuban Government had received the Technical Mission’s Fourth Report expressing strong opposition to many features of the bill. The Cuban experts who had been working with the Technical Mission had wished to defer submitting a bill to the Cuban Congress until the Technical Mission’s Report had been received, but unfortunately Batista had informed them late in June that they must have a bill ready within twenty-four hours. We agreed that this was unfortunate since the Cuban Government would probably have found it much easier to accept the Mission’s recommendations before it had presented the bill than it would to accept the same suggestions at the apparent instance of groups in Cuba who are on the whole unfavorable to the central bank plan.

Lieutenant Southard said that he had talked with Mr. White of the Treasury Department and that Mr. White had asked his advice as to what should be done. Lieutenant Southard said that he had told Mr. White that he thought there was nothing that could be done at this time. He said that the Cuban Government might or might not ask for someone from the Technical Mission to come to Habana for the proposed hearings on the legislation and that he felt very strongly that no one from the Technical Mission should go except in [Page 310] response to a definite request by the Cuban Government which had originated with that Government and had not been promoted or stimulated by us. He also expressed some doubt as to how much good it would do to send a member of the Mission even if a request should be received. Such a person could actually do little but stand on the Mission’s reports. The Cubans, however, might try to maneuver him into acquiescing in serious departures from the Mission’s recommendations.

  1. Frank Southard, member of the American Technical Mission to Cuba.
  2. Frederick Livesey, Chief of the Financial Division.
  3. Official of the Cuban Ministry of the Treasury.
  4. Presumably the Cuban Sub-Secretary of Defense.