837.61351/5–3146: Telegram

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

u.s. urgent

393. Last night Wilson presented to Seiglie and Mañas draft of proposed contract for purchase of alcohol, molasses and two sugar crops,40 with provision that price of 1947 crop shall not exceed price paid Puerto Rico. He also presented letters41 reaffirming April 4 proposal concerning foodstuffs and expressing understanding that as in previous years there shall be no change in quota distribution system in Cuba for 1946 and 1947 crops. Copies forwarded by airmail today.

Seiglie and Mañas expressed opinion that contract would be unacceptable because of provision placing price of 1947 crop on parity with Puerto Rican price. Mañas whose attitude Wilson described as obstreperous demanded that arrangements be made immediately for [Page 784] financing 1946 crop. When Wilson stated that this could not be done until contract is signed, Mañas said no further sugar shipments will be made after June 1. At this point Wilson reminded Cubans that such drastic action might compel US to adopt similar position regarding shipment of foodstuffs to Cuba. After an overnight cooling off period Mañas informed Marshall42 this morning that sugar shipments would not be stopped.

Seiglie left for Habana this morning and Mañas is expected to leave next week.


[The Department was informed in telegram 416, June 5, 3 p.m. from Habana, that Dr. Seiglie had visited President Grau the day before to discuss terms of the American counterdraft of article IV of the proposed sugar contract and President Grau had instructed him to send copies for study to hacendados, colonos, and sugar mill workers; as soon as views of these three sectors of sugar industry were known, the President would then decide what action should be taken (837.-61351/6–546). The hacendados, colonos, and sugar mill workers all rejected the proposed article IV. (837.61351/6–2146)

The Cuban Sugar Institute sent to Mr. Marshall a modus vivendi of June 13, a copy of which was enclosed in despatch 1755, June 17, from Habana, covering the 1946 sugar crop, molasses and alcohol, stating in its covering letter that if the proposed modus vivendi were not established, it would have no legal means to continue shipments of sugar after July 1st; the modus vivendi would remain in force until the Cuban Commission and the United States Committee reached a definitive agreement (837.61351/6–1746).]

  1. A memorandum on a meeting of May 28 in Mr. Earl Wilson’s office indicated that Secretary Anderson and Mr. Wilson had called upon the President that morning and discussed with him the question of alcohol and molasses purchases in connection with the purchase of two sugar crops. Mr. Wilson stated that the President had expressed the hope that negotiations for the purchase of two sugar crops could he concluded and that if it were necessary to purchase alcohol in order to get the sugar, alcohol purchases should be made (837.61351/5–2446).
  2. Letter from Mr. Wilson to Dr. Seiglie, May 30, with draft letter to the Institute and draft purchase and sale contract for the 1946 and 1947 Cuban sugar crops attached, not printed.
  3. James A. Marshall, Director of the Sugar Branch, Department of Agriculture.