837.61351/1–1045: Telegram

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

21. Have already discussed subjects of first three paragraphs of Deptel 24, January 9, 6 p.m., with my associates here including Wilcox42 and Norregaard. Every appropriate indication has been made repeatedly to Grau, Seiglie43 and others, but the two specific points of possible wage increases and distribution of molasses proceeds are exclusively Cuban internal affairs with which both as matter of principle and from practical aspect we should stay away out of entirely. On other hand, so recently as at luncheon today President in most positive terms reiterated to me that we will get 1945 zafra44 sugar as needed, with or without contract. Moreover, I explained the shipping problem to him and he understands that we will have to begin taking loadings by the end of January. As I have before reported, Cubans have been trying to out-wait us, therefore for me to approach President and members of the commission or for the Department to speak to Belt in the premises would be interpreted as a sign of weakness on our part and would lessen our chances of reaching early agreement. In this connection, it is pertinent to add that while only a few weeks ago Cubans were insisting on 3.2545 as [Page 919] a minimum they subsequently came down to 3.15. Yesterday a leading senator reliably informed me that Casanova46 had told him he hoped deal might be closed at 3.10. This morning Gianelloni of Punta Alegre called obviously on a fishing expedition at instance of some of his Cuban sugar friends to say that if we could only find some face saving device Cubans would accept 3¢. Finally within last week during informal talks with Casanova and Mañas47 both have made estimates in my presence based on a 3¢ price.

Today I reiterated to Grau that 3¢ was absolute tops because any increase in sugar price here would upset our entire price structure at home and I suggested to him as I had to Gianelloni that delegates had an ample face saving device in the security clause of our proposal.48 Grau observed that the industry was trying to put him on political spot of having it appear that he had forced acceptance of 3¢ price whereas he was confident they would in due course accept voluntarily.

The impression mentioned fourth paragraph Department’s telegram that certain members of industry are piqued is so much “eye wash” because I have always seen Seiglie or any other members of the industry whenever they desired to see me.

We shall give further thought to Department’s telegram, but I emphatically agree with Byrnes and Vinson in opposition to higher price. Also considerations mentioned in last paragraph of Department’s telegram should measurably assist in reaching agreement at appropriate moment.

  1. M. L. Wilcox, Director of the Caribbean district of the War Shipping Administration.
  2. Oscar Seiglie y Martínez, personal representative of President Grau San Martin on the Cuban commission negotiating the 1945 sugar crop purchase agreement.
  3. Sugar crop harvest.
  4. Cents per pound.
  5. José Manuel Casanova, President of the Cuban Sugar Stabilization Institute, a government entity that supervised the production and export of Cuban sugar.
  6. Arturo Mañas, member of the executive committee of the Cuban Sugar Stabilization Institute.
  7. The proposal referred to here was presented by the United States Sugar Commission to the Cuban Sugar Commission in a memorandum submitted on November 11, 1944 (not printed), while the commissions were meeting in Habana. Concerning this phase of negotiations, see telegram 884, November 14, 1944, to Habana, Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. vii, p. 951.