The Secretary of State to the Secretary of War (Patterson)


My Dear Mr. Secretary: I have your letter of March 30, 194614 with further reference to the transfer of the air base at San Antonio de los Baños to the Cuban Government.

The Department on April 1 presented a note to the Cuban Ambassador informing him that the bases at San Antonio de los Baños and San Julián will be transferred to the Cuban Government on May 20, 1946. A copy of this note is enclosed herewith.15 It is understood, of course, that property at San Antonio de los Baños excess to the needs of the Army and Navy will be declared surplus and disposed of by the Foreign Liquidation Commissioner.16 A list of such property should be furnished to this Department as soon as possible in order that it may be made available to the Foreign Liquidation Commissioner.

Ambassador Norweb has been instructed to discuss with appropriate officials of the Cuban Government details for arranging the formal transfer and will continue to collaborate closely with Colonel Wade, Commanding Officer of the base. It is suggested that instructions be sent to Colonel Wade regarding military representation at the formal transfer ceremony.17

After the return of the base further negotiations will be conducted with the Cuban Government for the purpose of reaching an agreement for the post war use of the base.18

[Page 707]

Copies of this letter are being sent to the Secretary of the Navy and the Foreign Liquidation Commissioner.

Sincerely yours,

James F. Byrnes
  1. See footnote 10, p. 704.
  2. Supra.
  3. Ambassador Norweb reported in telegram 366, May 20, 1946, 3 p.m., that movable surplus from Batista Field, at San Antonio de los Baños, had been disposed of in two bulk sales to the Cuban Government; total cost value material sold was $1,591,254; total estimated fair value was $1,247,487; total sales value received was $997,990; and small individual sales yet to be effected would bring total to slightly over $1,000,000 (837.24/5-2046).
  4. In despatch 2160, September 12, 1946, Ambassador Norweb commented that the “turning-over ceremony, held very appropriately on Cuban Independence Day, was featured by tributes from the highest Cuban authorities to the understanding and non-interventionist spirit evidenced by the United States.” (711.37/9-1246)
  5. In telegram 331, May 3, 1946, 5 p.m., the Acting Secretary of State informed Ambassador Norweb that the proposed discontinuance of Army teletype circuit No. 9881 on May 20 when the U.S. Army was to relinquish Batista Air Base to Cuban Army Air Forces, had been referred to the Weather Bureau, which stressed the vital importance to military and commercial aircraft operation of the exchange of meteorological data through this communication channel, and strongly advised the maintenance of circuit 9881 between Miami, Key West, the National Observatory at Habana, and the air bases at San Antonio and San Julián (837.9243/4-1246). In an exchange of notes of May 22 and June 5, the Embassy and the Cuban Ministry of State reached an agreement for maintenance of this circuit, and the Cuban Government agreed to contribute half of the monthly operating cost of $2,478.00 (837.9243/6-746). For the United States-Cuban memorandum agreement for the cooperative establishment and operation of a weather station at Habana, August 2, 1944, see Department of State Treaties and Other International Acts Series (TIAS) No. 1842.