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

My Dear Mr. Secretary: I have your letter of July 31, 194631 outlining the War Department’s recommendations for the disposal of property at the General Ignacio Agramonte Airport, Camagüey, Cuba.32

It is my understanding that all of the land and structures, except the Diesel Generator Building, located in the so-called Military Cantonment area, were transferred to the Cuban Government on May 20 in accordance with an agreement reached between the War Department, Pan American Airways, and this Department. These buildings are referred to in the map enclosed with your letter as nos. 103 to 114, inclusive, plus no. 116.

Many of the improvements at this airport, such as the construction of barracks in the Military Cantonment area, were authorized by the Cuban Government under the terms of the Agreement for Military and Naval Cooperation of September 7, 1942 between the United States and Cuba, which provided that upon the termination of the agreement, all fixed installations and constructions of every kind placed in Cuba by the United States or in its name during the life of the agreement would become the property of the Cuban Government without cost. If the sentry box, known as building no. 17, and the buildings in the Post Engineer’s Compound were constructed by the [Page 716] United States Army subsequent to the conclusion of this agreement, this Government would be obligated under the terms of the agreement to transfer the buildings to the Cuban Government without cost. The decision as to whether this property should be transferred to the Cuban Government or disposed of in some other manner would, of course, depend upon the date on which the buildings were actually constructed. I should therefore appreciate it if you would furnish me with that information.33

It is a matter of national interest that aviation facilities developed during the war be disposed of in a manner which will promote the world-wide air commerce of the United States. In this connection the War Department may wish to consider the procedure, approved by the Air Coordinating Committee, whereby air navigation, air traffic control, airway-communication and meteorological facilities have been disposed of by the Foreign Liquidation Commissioner for monetary consideration and the execution of service agreements for the maintenance and operation of such facilities. While the Department recognizes that the settlement of the contract is a matter for determination between the War Department and the contractor, it believes that in connection therewith, it is important that the War Deparment take such action as may be appropriate to assure that the beneficial use of facilities constructed or improved through the use of public funds should be available to all United States aircraft authorized to be operated by the United States and the foreign government concerned.

Since it appears, with respect to the airport development contract, that the greater portion of the property involved will be transferred to the contractor under obligations of the contract and that disposals of any surplus property will be closely related thereto, the Office of the Foreign Liquidation Commissioner is of the opinion that arrangements for disposals to the airline should be made directly by the War Department. Undoubtedly the Foreign Liquidation Commissioner could arrange to delegate authority to the War Department to dispose of such of the property as may be surplus. This Department is also of the opinion that any discussions with the Mead Committee34 concerning the disposal of this property should be undertaken by the War Department.

The disposal plan transmitted as an enclosure to your letter is returned herewith as requested.

Sincerely yours,

Dean Acheson
  1. Not printed.
  2. The airfield at Camagüey was one of the 22 airfields in Latin America being partially maintained by War Department funds through the Airport Development Program, according to a list enclosed in a letter of February 19, 1946, from the Secretary of War to the Secretary of State (810.7962/2–1946). For documentation on the Airport Development Program, see pp. 101 ff.
  3. No further information was received on this subject during 1946.
  4. Senate Special Committee Investigating National Defense Program.