Memorandum by Mr. George F. Scherer of the Division of the American Republics 8

The Embassy at Habana has submitted for the Department’s consideration an additional draft agreement9 with Cuba (in effect are agreements of June 19, 1942;10 September 7, 1942;11 February 1, 194312) which has been found necessary to iron out several minor problems. The draft has received general approval in the Cuban Ministry of State, although it is likely that it may suggest some specific changes.

The purpose of this agreement is to broaden the scope of certain articles of previous agreements and to include such new commitments as may be desirable. The summary that follows may be helpful in indicating the suggested changes from existing agreements.

Col. D. B. Wilson13 has suggested that the War Department might wish to draft, for inclusion, an article bringing up to date the use and purpose of the Batista Airport at San Antonio de los Baños, since it is no longer to be used for training British bombardment crews. I am endeavoring to send copies of the draft agreement to Col. Wilson and to Navy.

The Embassy has suggested possible revision of Article XII of the agreement of June 19, 1942, which provides for a joint United States-Cuban claims commission, to conform to United States Act of January 2, 1942,14 providing for settlement of foreign claims not over $1,000 by a unilateral United States Commission. Mr. Yingling of LE15 is already familiar with this matter and his ideas on adjusting the apparent existing conflict will be most helpful.

The Embassy’s draft requires the exchange of full powers, which I hope may be avoided as I feel the subject matter does not warrant reference to the White House. Furthermore, Article IV of the Agreement [Page 140] of September 7, 1942, provides specifically for supplementary revisions of the agreement.

U–L16 may wish to arrange a meeting of the interested persons once they have had an opportunity to study the text.

Topics for New Agreement

Suggested Commitment Present Commitment
Free Entry (Art. I)
Cuba, through its Treasury, to exempt from duties:
(a) 1. Materials, etc. for U.S. military and naval forces;
2. Personal effects of U.S. personnel attached to U.S. military or naval units:
3. Goods consigned to U.S. official institutions—U.S.O., etc.
(b) Consular fees not required on U.S. military or naval projects and other projects considered necessary to war effort.
(c) Permit bonded shipments to Guántanamo through any Cuban port.
Art. IV—Agreement of June 19, 1942—Free entry of materials and personnel [personal?] effects for San Antonio de los Banos zone.
Art. II—Agreement of September 7, 1942—Free entry of materials consigned to U.S. Government or official agency thereof.
Art. V—Agreement of February 1, 1943—Exemption for Naval Mission personnel as in (a) 2, plus free circulation of their automobiles.
Art. VII—Agreement of June 19, 1942—No fee or tax chargeable for motor vehicles (U.S. or belonging to San Antonio de loa Baños personnel).

Comment—The underlined phrase of (b) above appears to include other than strictly military and naval projects (such as Nicaro Nickel Co. for example) and should therefore be deleted, as improperly included in a secret military-naval agreement.

Section (b) refers to consular fees (facturas consulares), which means, I judge, that exemption from both the fee and the invoice itself is anticipated.

Paragraph (c) is excellent as the present procedure of requiring direct shipment to U.S. Naval Operating Base at Guantanamo from United States is cumbersome. I would like to see this arrangement made permanent.

[Page 141]
Suggested Commitment Present Commitment
Taxation (Art. II)
Exemption from direct taxes for U.S. armed forces and civilians engaged in construction or operation of U.S. military or naval projects. Art. V—Agreement of June 19, 1942—Same as in suggested commitment, but limited to S A de los Baños zone.
Communications (Art. III)
Establishment and operation of essential U.S. military communications for military and naval units in Cuba. Art. VIII—Agreement of June 19, 1942—Same as in suggested commitment but limited to S A de los Baños zone.
Art I (e)—Agreement of September 7, 1942—Authorization of military communications establishment for shore detachments only.
Military Jurisdiction (Art. IV)
U.S. military and naval personnel committing offenses against Cuban law to be tried and punished by U.S. military and naval authorities. Art. IX—Agreement of June 19, 1942—Fugitives in zone but not belonging to it to be delivered to Cuba. Fugitives belonging to zone to be delivered to U.S. authorities.

Comment—This suggested article should have, I expect, careful study as it refers to matters of civil and criminal jurisdiction and departs definitely from the present commitment. I believe the suggested form would be satisfactory to War and Navy.

Suggested Commitment Present Commitment
Post Office Facilities (Art. V)
Extension of facilities for use of all U.S. military and naval units and personnel in Cuba. Art. X—Agreement of June 19, 1942—U.S. Post Office established at San Antonio de los Baños.
  1. Addressed to Philip W. Bonsal, Chief of the Division of the American Republics, and Willard Barber of the same Division, and to Orme Wilson, Department Liaison Officer. Notation by Mr. Barber at end of memorandum reads: “Comment: There are 3 agreements already, the most recent on Feb. 1, 1943; (1) I do not see that it is necessary to have another equally formal document now. (2) “The Cubans do not seem to have asked for it. (3) The exchange of notes could accomplish most of the desired ends. (4) It does not appear necessary for the claims and tax exemptions to be held so secret. W. Barber”.
  2. Dated February 25, 1943; transmitted to the Department in Embassy’s despatch No. 2314, February 26, not printed.
  3. Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. vi, p. 267.
  4. Ibid., p. 283.
  5. Supra.
  6. Donald B. Wilson, Latin American Branch of the Theater Group of Operations Division, War Department General Staff.
  7. 55 Stat. 880.
  8. Raymund T. Yingling, Assistant to the Legal Adviser.
  9. Department Liaison Officer, assistant to the Under Secretary of State.