Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Chief of the Division of Caribbean Affairs (Walker)
|Participants:||Ambassador Guillermo Belt—Cuban Embassy|
|Señor Ricardo Sarabasa, First Secretary—Cuban Embassy|
Ambassador Belt at his request called on Mr. Daniels this afternoon to discuss the Dominican charges against Cuba which were presented to the Committee of Five last week. He branded these charges as ridiculous and fantastic, pointing out that there was no conflict between the two countries and no justification for seeking recourse through the Committee of Five. Cuba, he stated, had fully complied with its international commitment in connection with the revolutionary activities of last year and would continue to adhere to its policy of nonintervention in the internal affairs of other states. The Dominican revolutionaries, he stated, were taken into custody last year and brought to trial in conformity with Cuban law.
The Ambassador said that there were numerous Dominican exiles in Cuba but that the Cuban armed forces would not permit them to use Cuba as a base for organizing an attack against the Dominican Republic. In this connection, he remarked that there were many Cuban exiles in the United States who were openly opposed to the present Cuban government but they were not kept under custody by U.S. authorities nor were their movements restricted. He went on to say that if there were any legal justification for the Dominican charges against Cuba concerning the Dominican exiles, then Cuba might conceivably have a basis for seeking indemnity from the United States with respect to the activities of Cuban political exiles here.
The Ambassador said that he had discussed the Dominican matter with Grau and President elect Prío,1 both of whom felt that the Dominican charges were absurd and that there was much less likelihood of a conflict between Cuba and the Dominican Republic than between two countries that have adjoining frontiers such as in Central and South America.
Cuba, he said, would like to reach a harmonious accord with the Dominican Republic but could not, under any circumstances, recognize the claims presented by the Dominican delegation. He remarked that he was on the most friendly and cordial terms with Ambassadors [Page 184]Arturo Despradel and Ortega Frier and inquired whether it might be well to have an informal discussion with them. Mr. Daniels indicated that he thought it might be well to do so.
The Ambassador said that he had not decided whether he should attend the Committee of Five meetings and wondered whether Mr. Daniels had any views on this point. Mr. Daniels said that in his personal opinion there would seem to be no reason why the Ambassador should not participate in a meeting confined to a discussion of routine matters such as procedure and regulations, but that a meeting for a discussion of substantive questions might be a different matter. Mr. Daniels reiterated that this was his personal view and that he could not, of course, speak for the other members of the Committee.
Mr. Daniels took occasion to express his view, which he believed was shared by the other Committee members, that it was the Committee’s intention to consider the Dominican charges in an effort to be of assistance in reaching a solution which would be mutually satisfactory to both parties, but that it was not the Committee’s desire to take any action which would preclude usual diplomatic negotiations between the two parties concerned.
The Ambassador again pointed out that he thought it was foolish for the Dominican Government to request the Committee of Five to consider these charges and that, in the event the case were ever brought before the council of the Organization of American States, the so-called pro-Trujillo group comprised of the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Honduras would probably vote against Cuba and the other states in favor of Cuba.
The Ambassador referred to various press reports concerning Dr. Prío’s visit to Mexico and stated that the story concerning Dr. Prío’s alleged conversation with President Alemán2 on the Dominican liberation movement was based on speculation and was without foundation. He remarked that Dr. Prío was leaving for Guatemala tomorrow and that a similar speculation might be made with respect to his conversation with Guatemalan officials. In this connection, Mr. Daniels expressed the view that if Dr. Prío in his conversation with Guatemalan officials were to reiterate Cuba’s intention to adhere to its policy of nonintervention, it might well be of assistance in eliminating some of the tension in the Caribbean area.