The Ambassador in Cuba (Braden) to the Secretary of State

No. 891

Sir: I have the honor to report that the past few days have witnessed the inauguration of a local campaign for the apparent purpose of establishing a conviction in the mind of the Cuban people that Cuba has a vested right to a 1943 sugar crop of approximately the same size (4,000,000 long tons) as the 1942 zafra. This campaign has taken the form of numerous editorials arguing that the wartime economy of the country demands a large crop, with the implication that the United States Government has some moral obligation to make such a crop possible, in order to maintain Cuban economy.

The hand of the Government in this campaign emerged yesterday when the Prime Minister, Dr. Ramón Zaydín, made an address at a luncheon at the Lions’ Club. The pertinent clipping from this morning’s Diario de la Marina is enclosed14 and it will be observed that Dr. Zaydín made the following statement:

“The basic triangle, of urgent interest to the Government, consists of maritime traffic, the sugar crop, and fuel. It is stated that the amount of the zafra will be reduced, and in the name of the Government I declare that this cannot and will not be. A reduction of the sugar crop would bring about a civil war. With the misery existing in the fields, with the national economy battered, workers and the entire people would establish a protest based on reason …”15

Also enclosed are clippings14 from the Diario de la Marina of August 30, 1942, containing an article written by Dr. Ramiro Guerra (now in Habana) in which he speaks optimistically of next year’s prospects, and an editorial from the same paper, (September 1) praising Dr. Guerra’s views. A few days earlier an editorial appeared in El Avance, the general purport of which was that the United States is in a position to purchase any amount of Cuban sugar that it decides to [Page 331] buy, the implication being that should we purchase less than in 1942, this would indicate a lack of friendly cooperation.

It is obvious that the purpose of this campaign is to endeavor to jockey our Government into a position in which, should our 1943 purchases fall substantially below those of 1942, Cuba can appear in the role of “injured party”, entitled to “compensations.” Obviously the Cuban Government is behaving somewhat recklessly in this matter since it should be apparent to the industry, and no less to the Government, that our 1943 purchases will be based on our consumption requirements, our transportation availabilities, and the size of the carryover. Moreover, I have already taken occasion to warn President Batista against over-optimism, and I shall seek an early opportunity to make statements to the same effect to the Prime Minister and the Minister of State.16

With the foregoing situation in mind, I consider it highly important that we convey to the Cuban Government at the earliest possible moment a revised estimate of our 1943 requirements, together with an indication of our views relative to purchase arrangements.

Respectfully yours,

Spruille Braden
  1. Not reprinted.
  2. Omission indicated in the original despatch.
  3. Not reprinted.
  4. José Agustín Martínez.