811.24537/6–1946

The Chargé in Cuba ( Woodward ) to the Secretary of State

secret
No. 1764

Sir: I have the honor to refer to past correspondence regarding the former United States Army Air Force Bases in Cuba, which were released to the Cuban Government on May 20, 1946, and to enclose herewith a copy of the text of a report submitted by the Military Attaché [Page 710] to his Department, in which there is set forth the attitude verbally expressed in a recent conference, by the Chief of the Cuban Army Air Force, with respect to possible reciprocal use by forces of each nation of the Air Bases pertaining to the other.26

It will be seen that while the attitude of the Cuban Army Air Force Chief is reported as more than cordial, he has not yet been able to discuss technical details at length, much less to express any views regarding the possible basing on Cuban territory of American army aircraft or stationing at bases in Cuba of U.S. Army Air Force personnel.

Respectfully yours,

Robert F. Woodward
[Enclosure]

Report by the Assistant Military Air Attaché (Rigley)

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1. Colonel Camilo González Chávez, Chief of the Cuban Air Corps, requested a conference with the MAA office on the afternoon of 10 June 1946. The conference was attended by Colonel Chávez; Captain Efrain Hernández, Cuban MA and MAA to the United States; Colonel Edgar E. Glenn, and Lt. Colonel O. H. Rigley, Jr. At this conference Colonel Chávez proposed that the United States and Cuba enter into a reciprocal agreement for the use of military air bases in those two countries. This proposal contemplates the unlimited use of air bases and facilities by both countries without the necessity of previous permission or information for the desired use of the air bases or facilities. The proposal includes preferential treatment to military personnel on immigration and customs regulations. Chávez stated that as far as the Cuban Air Corps was concerned the agreement was effective as of Monday, 10 June 1946, and that all U.S. military aircraft, both Army and Navy, were welcome to use the Cuban air bases as desired and that no previous notice of intended use of these facilities was necessary.

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

3. Captain Efrain Hernández brought up the question of the Staff Conferences between Cuba and the United States. He told Colonel Chávez and this office that the U.S. War Department had informed [Page 711] him that no action would be taken on the Staff Conferences until Cuba paid its lend-lease debt. Colonel Chávez stated that he and the General Staff were in favor of paying the lend-lease debt; that in fact the Army had been authorized to pay the lend-lease debt, but that money had not been appropriated for this expenditure.

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

AMAA Comment: The reason Chávez is desirous of the reciprocal agreement is because of embarrassment to Cuban pilots who have landed in the United States and have been forced to pay in cash for services received, such as gasoline, oil and minor repairs. This cash-on-the-barrelhead system is embarrassing to the Cubans, and they desire more favorable treatment in the United States. This reporter believes that the agreement would be more advantageous to the United States, as U.S. aircraft are more likely to use the Cuban bases than the Cuban aircraft are to use AAF bases in the United States. The only continental AAF bases in which the Cubans are particularly interested are those at Miami and Washington and refueling stops between Miami and Washington.

The Cubans realize now that the United States is not going to play Santa Claus any longer and that they have no chance of receiving additional equipment and aid from the United States, as outlined in the Staff Conferences, until such time as the lend-lease debt is paid. Cuba is able to pay its lend-lease debt without its economic situation being affected. This reporter predicts a token payment towards the lend-lease debt in the near future in order that Cuba can maintain its prestige among the Latin American countries.

O. H. Rigley, Jr.

Lt. Colonel, A. C.
  1. The Cuban Minister of State transmitted to the Ambassador in Cuba note No. 137, February 6, 1946, regarding the delivery of the military bases in Cuba which had been operated by United States Armed Forces and concluded with the statement: “At the same time I am happy to add that the Cuban Government maintains with ever increasing firmness the same sentiments of cooperation within the same spirit of solidarity and identification with the common ideals of liberty and democracy which gave rise to the military and naval agreements already referred to and it is the most firm desire of the Government of Cuba that the military and naval installations mentioned may remain apt for use in the cooperative endeavor of our countries for the defense of the American Continent.” (811.24537/2-1146)