837.5018/45

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

No. 3914

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s instruction no. 1934 of July 13 [14] and to the Embassy’s despatch no. 3873 of July 20,59 and to report that the contract for the purchase of Cuba’s total export surplus of corn from the 1944 crop was signed today by the Minister of Agriculture. The revised draft of this contract was received from Washington on July 15. Four signed copies of the contract are transmitted herewith.60 It is understood that three of these copies should be transmitted to the Office of Economic Warfare for the use of that agency and the Commodity Credit Corporation.

Although no reliable estimate is available concerning the quantity of export surplus corn which will be available, the Ministry of Agriculture has recently estimated the 1943 plantings at 464,000 acres with an estimated production of 489 million pounds. The Embassy believes that this estimate is too high, but it is evident that there has been considerable increase in production and that appreciable quantities will be available for export. By far the greatest production (about 41 percent of the total) is in Oriente Province in the extreme eastern end of the island.

The contract provides that the Commodity Credit Corporation shall take delivery of the corn at railroad stations throughout the island. The Minister expressed the opinion that there would probably not be more than twenty delivery points, but nevertheless it is obvious that the Corporation will have to have available at least two, and possibly more, inspectors to sample the corn and to determine whether it meets with our qualifications, et cetera. These inspectors, who should if possible have some knowledge of Spanish, should be in Cuba not later than August 5, as the Minister expects that the corn crop will begin to move during the first half of August.

It is the Minister’s plan to assign to the Corporation the corn produced by a certain number of the largest growers. These will probably be mostly sugar companies, a number of which have gone into the production of corn this year on a large scale.

The Minister said that the Sugar Cane Growers’ Association has agreed to establish a revolving fund of $100,000 to finance growers who are financially unable to await payment from the Corporation.

He assured us that in accordance with the terms of the contract he would immediately notify the Cuban authorities to prohibit the exportation of corn, except in the case of corn shipped by or for the [Page 231] account of the Corporation. The Minister suggested that the Corporation would be given a general export license to cover its exports of corn from Cuba.

Similar contracts for the purchase of peanuts and beans are expected to be completed in the near future.

Respectfully yours,

For the Ambassador:
Paul G. Minneman

Agricultural Attaché
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