837.50/168

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

Dear Sumner: I was especially interested to find your February 19 letter45 awaiting me on my return from Oriente Province because you have so exactly put your finger on the principal obstructions with which we continuously have to contend here—the inertia, the unsound thinking of our Cuban friends, coupled with a supine reliance on us and therefore a tendency to blame the U. S. A. when the going gets tough.

These mental hazards have been especially apparent in connection with the diversification program and will render its general acceptance more difficult. However, this program is of such importance for us as well as the Cubans, not merely from the aspect of the well-being of this island but of the entire Caribbean area, that I believe the time and effort we may spend on it will be well worth while. Moreover, we are making progress in some quarters, especially from the standpoint of its leading to the development of crops which will help Cuba to feed herself. If we can win on this front, then we may later succeed in the development of cash crops for export.

Insofar as diversification this year is concerned, it is only fair to observe, as I have in recent despatches, that we too have been at fault—understandably so in view of the extreme pressure on everyone in Washington. In particular, all of our conversations so far in respect to corn and beans have been handicapped because we could mention no price, while on peanuts we have offered a price which would give much incentive were we also able to supply the required mechanical equipment, especially tractors, but which on the basis of manual labor for clearing ground, et cetera, is not sufficiently attractive to produce any great results. Moreover instead of loaning seed peanuts to be repaid in kind, as originally suggested by us, the problem is now complicated by our making it a sale transaction.

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I may be indulging in over-simplification. Nevertheless I feel that the long pull approach to Cuban economy—fundamentally sugar-must sooner or later, and preferably sooner, include (1) genuine research, (2) diversification, (3) a revamping of the industry on this Island.

A start, halting though it be, has been made on (2) and it should be possible to get no. (1) under way. In this connection, I have received some encouragement for my thesis from Dr. Lamee of the BEW Combustion Mission,46 who is confident that the wax on the surf ace of the cane itself, which has been a waste product and even something of a nuisance hitherto, may be separated for about 11 cents and sold industrially for about 40 cents. Also he has brought with him a sample of a plastic made from sugar juices. This latter development is still embryonic but may at least hold hope for the future.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

With all best wishes,

Faithfully yours,

Spruille Braden

[Here follows postscript, not printed.]

  1. Not printed.
  2. R. D. Lamee, process engineer of the United States Board of Economic Warfare’s Combustion Mission to Cuba.