Memorandum of Conversation, by the Adviser on Political Relations (Duggan)
The Ambassador32 informed me that the service of the United Fruit Company between New York, Habana, and Central America [Page 347] had been totally suspended; also that the sailings of two of the four ships of the Fred Olsen Line from the north Pacific to Cuba via the Panama Canal had been discontinued. Moreover, it was rumored that the last ship in the service between Miami, Habana, and Tampa was to be removed. He said that this situation was going to create havoc in the movement of Cuban products, particularly fresh vegetables.
I telephoned Mr. Wilcox in the Maritime Commission who confirmed the foregoing33 and added that the two remaining ships of the Seatrain Line were going to be put into service between New Orleans and Habana in lieu of New York and Habana. In this way they could make more sailings. He said that to move the sugar crop arrangements had been made for 75 to 80 thousand tons of shipping of which 50% would move to the east coast and 50% via New Orleans. On the southbound trips these ships would be available to carry cargo to Cuba. With regard to the carriage of Cuban vegetables, he admitted that the situation was going to be bad. He explained to me once again the reasons for the withdrawal of this shipping.
I told the Ambassador frankly that it had been necessary to remove the ships for military reasons; that Cuba, however, was not suffering any more than the other American countries; and that everything that could be done would be done to insure sufficient ships to move Cuba’s imports and exports.
The Ambassador took the information as well as might be expected but naturally left very unhappy over the prospective situation.