837.711/125: Telegram

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

834. Except for minor inaccuracies Braga’s memorandum46 (which we did not have until today) reference Department’s telegram 1052, December 14, 4 p.m.47 and instruction 2649, December 1147 paints a true picture which we are reporting fully by despatch. (With respect to the general problem please see my despatch no. 5206, November 22.)47

Since receipt of Department’s telegram 868, September 20, 7 p.m. authorizing allotment of $150,000 to assist in Cuban postal censorship I have been endeavoring and hoping against hope from day to day to reach an agreement with the Prime Minister and other Cuban authorities which would insure effective and honest expenditure of these funds which they would of course be glad to have if we were willing to turn them over without any strings attached. This I will not do.

(It is pertinent to observe that allotment of monies from President’s special fund for purposes of internment was promptly granted and this program is now functioning effectively. Unfortunately the delay of over a year in granting similar allotment (which was requested at same time) for purposes of postal censorship has given Cuban officials opportunity to discover what a rich field for graft this is.)

It now seems apparent that some of these authorities have concluded that our collaboration in this highly important war effort might impede blackmail and sale of information now practiced in the Cuban censorship office as well as the graft in purchases and in rackets (and it certainly would bring the details of these rackets to our knowledge). They are unwilling to forego these illicit perquisites, [Page 151] despite the fact that they have been informed and are aware of the great value of censorship in our mutual war effort.

In the light of the foregoing, unless there very soon is a complete about-face by the Cuban authorities, I will recommend that our offer to assist financially be withdrawn.

Also I am studying and will report so [as] soon as possible whether the services of Major Keller48 and his two assistants, valuable though they have been, should be continued here in the light of the shocking conditions prevailing and the entire disinclination of the censorship chief to cooperate with him. Also in this matter there is a limit beyond which we cannot go with dignity. Similarly I will consider recommendations in respect to retention of Braga or his replacement.

Therefore, under the aforedescribed circumstances nothing should be done in respect to our participation in cable censorship, at least until the Cuban censorship situation has been cleaned up to our entire satisfaction. As a result of an altogether unsatisfactory conversation with Castillo,49 head of censorship here, on December 10, I am not at all sanguine that this can be done.50

  1. Memorandum of November 25 by Lt. B. Rionda Braga, United States Cable Censorship Liaison Officer at Habana, not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Maj. Fred B. Keller, United States Postal Censorship Liaison Officer, stationed in Habana May 31, 1942, to February 19, 1944.
  6. Eugenio Castillo y Borges.
  7. A memorandum by Major Keller summarizing the Cuban postal censorship program from June 1942 to January 1944, transmitted to the Department with despatch No. 6060 of February 21, 1944, reported that the Embassy was notified by the Cuban Government on December 31, 1943, that the United States subsidy of $150,000 had been rejected (837.711/141).