837.61351/3711: Airgram

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

A–366. For Duggan and Bonsal.41 With reference to my airgram No. A–365 of February 25.42

My conversations with Zaydín and Lόpez Castro43 together with information received from other sources convince me that if a successful start is to be made on the diversification program this year, the plan will have to be made considerably more attractive than thus far, and there must be a real incentive to Cuban producers. As I see it, the two principal deterrents are price and lack of assured market after 1943.

Having in mind the serious preoccupation of our Government with respect to this problem and its importance on long-range consideration of Cuban economy, I urge therefore that the situation be carefully reviewed in order to determine how far we can go and in particular whether it can be made so worth-while for local production to be expanded that the Cuban Government will ipso facto be able to put on a successful campaign and to meet local criticism and inertia. The Cuban Government is, I believe, prepared to make genuine efforts in this direction.

With respect to peanuts I doubt whether, regardless of price, Cuba is likely to have any considerable 1943 surplus since last year’s production must be increased from 40,000,000 pounds to 100,000,000 pounds unshelled before local crushing facilities are exceeded. At the $3.65 present offer to growers ($6.88 Habana shelled in bags) I have found little enthusiasm so far as additional plantings are concerned, although Lόpez Castro states confidently that at $4.00 to growers (approximately $7.50 in Habana) he believes the Government will be able to support a real campaign and effectively increase production. As indicated in airgram No. A–365, whatever machinery we can make available should also influence production to an important degree.

As regards corn and beans, no definite price offer has yet been forthcoming from Washington, although the Cuban delegation44 [Page 224] returned nearly two months ago and many Cubans are accordingly beginning to question our interest in these crops.

To summarize, I believe a further over-all survey of diversification possibilities should be made, and that if possible we should be prepared to make a definite commitment for a period in excess of one year and also to provide a minimum amount of equipment. If we are even to make a start in 1943, very prompt action is indicated, since the planting season is practically upon us.

  1. Laurence Duggan, Adviser on Political Relations, and Philip W. Bonsal, Chief of the Division of the American Republics.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Ramόn Zaydín, Cuban Prime Minister, and Amadeo López Castro, President of Cuba’s National Development Commission and special representative of the Cuban Government.
  4. The delegation that negotiated in Washington the United States purchase of Cuba’s 1943 sugar crop. For details of this negotiation, see pp. 151 ff.