Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Chief of the Division of Caribbean and Central American Affairs (Scherer)

  • Participants:
    • Cuban Delegation
      • Oscar Seiglie
      • Teodoro Santiesteban
      • Amado Aréchaga
    • United States Delegation
      • Commodity Credit Corporation
      • Earl B.Wilson
      • James Marshall
      • Russell Burchard
    • War Food Administration
      • Joshua Bernhardt
      • Gustave Burmeister
      • Charles W. Fowler
    • Defense Supplies Corporation
      • Samuel H. Sabin
    • Foreign Economic Administration
      • Carl Gibboney
      • Oregon B. Helfrich
      • Clarence Blau
    • Department of State
      • Colonel Everett Cook66
      • George F. Scherer

The discussions in connection with Cuban sugar were resumed on February 28 with only a limited attendance by the Cubans. Other members of the delegation are to arrive within a few days, and the next meeting is scheduled for sometime Monday, March 5. The following three main topics were discussed.


Mr. Wilson touched lightly on the Hacendados resolution of last August67 and Dr. Seiglie stated the resolution is no handicap to the commission, both the Hacendado and Colono members being prepared [Page 925] to proceed with negotiations68 and resume responsibility for clearance. Dr. Seiglie indicated that a price of 3.00 per pound was generally accepted in Cuba. He added that at first this appeared to be a “fair price” but with the short 1945 crop, caused by extreme drought conditions and higher costs it was definitely not favorable. The Cubans had, however, been glad to show their cooperation by negotiating at that price.

Possible Three Crop Purchase

Dr. Seiglie indicated a strong sentiment in Cuba for the purchase of three crops instead of two, particularly in view of the small present crop and the possibility that 1946 will not be much better.

Mr. Wilson stated that this Government is deeply appreciative of the fact that 1945 Cuban sugar is being shipped although no contract has been signed. With regard to a purchase covering the 1945, 1946, and 1947 crops, Mr. Wilson stated that the Sugar Act of 1937,69 as amended,70 will expire at the end of 1946 and there is no indication of what Congress will do. Furthermore, it is the express policy of this Government to terminate its global purchase programs as soon as possible. Colonel Cook stressed the point that the State Department is making strong efforts to return international trade to normal conditions. The United States negotiations would be subject to severe criticism on all sides if a purchase of that length were made, as it would be contrary to our basic policy.

Dr. Seiglie then suggested that the United States Government purchase two crops outright and take an option on the 1947 crop, with the understanding that it would be bought if necessary, and, if not, this Government would agree to the removal of ceiling prices. No encouragement was given to this suggestion or to any proposal for the third year.

Puerto Rican Difficulties

Dr. Seiglie mentioned that Cuba is watching the sugar situation in Puerto Rico with great interest. While the Cuban commission understands the United States Commission’s position on not tying Cuban treatment up with Puerto Rican, it would be difficult for Cuba to understand the granting of any preferred treatment to Puerto Rico as workers there have struck and held up production. Mr. [Page 926] Wilson indicated that, of course, Cuba would receive a fair deal in connection with its sale of sugar to the United States.


Mr. Wilson suggested that there may be difficulties in connection with the second year of a possible stabilization program. He asked if the Cuban Commission were ready to have technical experts proceed from Cuba to confer with War Food Administration representatives in reaching a detailed and definitive agreement. Dr. Seiglie said that he plans to have someone come north at the end of next week on stabilization and probably others for alcohol discussions as well. Dr. Seiglie mentioned in passing that Cuba wants to sell all the alcohol it can, and Mr. Gibboney said that this country wishes to receive maximum quantities of molasses.

  1. Adviser, War Supply and Resources Division.
  2. This resolution, not printed, authorized Cuban acceptance of 3.25 cents per pound of sugar, or higher.
  3. For information concerning the breakdown of negotiations in November 1944, see telegram 884, November 14, 1944, to Havana, Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. vii, p. 951.
  4. 50 Stat 903.
  5. 54 Stat 1178; 55 Stat. 872; 58 Stat 283.