Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. William W. Walker of the Division of Caribbean and Central American Affairs

Participants: Assistant Secretary Braden
Mr. Briggs
Mr. James H. Wright24
Mr. Earl B. Wilson, Department of Agriculture
Mr. William W. Walker, CCA

Mr. Wright briefly referred to the meeting held yesterday in Secretary Anderson’s25 office and in particular to Mr. Anderson’s statement that negotiations for the purchase of Cuban sugar must be brought to a satisfactory conclusion this week; and that if the Cubans, after receiving a fair offer, refused to sign an agreement, we will have no alternative but to discontinue supplying Cuba with flour, lard and other commodities. Such action, Mr. Wright added, would result in serious repercussions and should, if possible, be avoided. There has, however, been considerable criticism of the sugar negotiations and something must be done soon.

. . . . . .

Mr. Braden stated that every effort should be made to reach an agreement and inquired of Mr. Wilson as to the principal points which the Cubans are holding out for. Mr. Wilson listed the following major points:

Sale of three crops;26
Sale of 20 million gallons of alcohol at 65¢ per gallon.

He also referred to such minor problems as Cuba’s request for stabilization of foodstuffs and for a guarantee that special benefits accorded to Puerto Rican sugar apply not only to a proportionate share of Cuban sugar on the same basis as Puerto Rico’s crop but to the entire Cuban crop retroactive as of January 1, 1946. This would give Cuba preferential treatment over Puerto Rico and could not be considered under any circumstances.

Mr. Wilson expressed the opinion that the Cubans would probably be willing to conclude a contract provided we agree to purchase alcohol. He feels that the Cubans would probably accept an offer for eight or ten million gallons of alcohol but would insist upon last year’s price of 65¢ a gallon. In this connection, he mentioned that Secretary [Page 775] Anderson had agreed to take such steps as may be necessary to provide him (Mr. Wilson) with the necessary authority to make such an offer.

It was agreed that it would be preferable to resume negotiations with Seiglie27 and members of the Institute rather than bring Ambassador Belt into the matter.

  1. Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State for American Republic Affairs.
  2. Clinton P. Anderson, Secretary of Agriculture.
  3. Sugar, molasses, and alcohol.
  4. Oscar Seiglie, Chairman of the Cuban Sugar Commission.