The Ambassador in Cuba (Norweb) to the Secretary of State

No. 1315

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Embassy’s A–406, March 15, 1946,35 reporting that a commission representing the Cuban Government and the food import trade is to accompany the Cuban sugar mission to Washington. According to Sr. San Martín, the commission is to act in an advisory capacity to the sugar mission and its discussions are to be a part of the negotiations for the sale of the 1946 Cuban sugar crop. The food commission is to consist of:

  • Manuel San Martín, Assistant Director of the Office of Price Regulation and Supply (ORPA)
  • José Manuel Alvarez de la Cruz, Chief of Price Division of the ORPA
  • Roberto Suero, for Habana Produce Exchange Roberto Chacon, for Association of Foreign Trade Commission Agents
  • Rafael Ayala, for Santiago de Cuba Chamber of Commerce.

The date of departure for Washington is not yet determined pending arrangements for travel accommodations.36

This is obviously one last attempt to obtain assurances for increased quantities of foodstuffs and other items by making this a condition and an integral part of the sugar negotiations, notwithstanding the repeated refusal of our Government to do so in the sugar discussions last June, October and December.

Sr. San Martín states the commission will try to obtain for Cuba additional quantities of scarce food items, including 100 million pounds of rice, 1.2 million bags of subsidized wheat flour, 20 million pounds of lard, 5 to 10 million pounds of vegetable oil and undetermined [Page 778] quantities of malt, high-protein feeds and fertilizers. Cuba’s interest obviously is centered on obtaining additional quantities rather than on the subject of price; nevertheless, the commission asks that the subsidy on wheat flour be continued and the subsidy on soybean oil be restored. As previously stated, the Embassy strongly favors increased allocations, but does not recommend price guarantees that would involve subsidies.

The Embassy has not given the commission any encouragement whatever that their requests might be granted, but on the contrary, has pointed out repeatedly to the Government and the food trade the great need for foodstuffs to relieve the starvation in war-torn areas. Cuba’s own agricultural production, moreover, is in a somewhat better position now than it was a year ago when a hurricane and a severe drought sharply reduced production of domestic crops.

On the other hand, as a result of the scarcities last year, Cuba entered the present allocation year with almost no carryover of stocks. Imports since then have been on a hand-to-mouth basis and critical scarcities are impending. These may have political repercussions and may well affect our future market in Cuba for export products.

[Here follows a résumé of Cuban proposals regarding supplies of rice, wheat flour, lard, vegetable oil, tallow, feed, malt, and fertilizer, and the Embassy’s appraisal thereof in connection with the negotiations.]

Respectfully yours,

For the Ambassador:
Paul G. Minneman

Agricultural Attaché
  1. Not printed.
  2. Dr. Seiglie announced at the second meeting of the Sugar Commission on March 28 that the Cuban Food Commission would arrive March 29; Mr. Wilson arranged for a meeting of the Commission with experts of the Department of Agriculture on March 29.