Memorandum of Conversation, by the united States Representative on the Council of the Organization of American States (Dreier)


Subject: Cubans Imprisoned in Connection with “Quetzal” Case in Dominican Republic.

Participants: Dr. Luis Machado, Ambassador of Cuba to the United States
Dr. Gonzalo Guell, Cuban Representative on the COAS
John C, Dreier, U.S. Representative on the COAS Edward A. Jamison, AR.

By arrangement with Ambassador Guell and Ambassador Machado, the latter having called me on the phone, I called at the Cuban Embassy to speak to them and convey to Ambassador Guell the Department’s reaction to the questions which he had put to me last night [Page 977] (see memorandum of conversation of today’s date).1 Ambassador Machado opened the conversation by repeating in general terms the main points of the Cuban position, emphasizing their desire to avoid any public dispute in the Caribbean among members of the anti-Soviet group.

I told Ambassador Guell that, having considered the matter more fully, I had come to the conclusion that it would not be possible for me to take any step in the matter as Chairman of the Peace Committee without consulting members of the Committee. I said that I had discussed the problem which he had outlined to me last night with others in the Department in a sincere desire to work out any arrangement which might enable us to help avoid the development of any further dispute among the Caribbean countries. We had come to the conclusion that it would not be possible for any U.S. representative to attempt to intervene in the matter unofficially, since any such move would be considered to represent official U.S. policy. Moreover, I pointed out that our relations with the Caribbean countries were so intimate and broad in scope that anything that we did in the way of intervening in a situation of this sort would be liable to misinterpretation in the light of other completely unconnected aspects of our relations. We therefore had come to the conclusion that any insinuation of suggestions or requests on our part would be too likely to be misinterpreted and to worsen rather than improve the situation. Such a move would be neither in the interest of Cuba nor of the United States.

Ambassador Guell expressed some disappointment at this. In connection with one of his remarks I stated that he had asked me a second question, namely, whether we would advise him to see Accioly.2 I repeated what I had said Sunday night, namely, that we saw no reason why he should not do so in view of Ambassador Accioly’s known abilities and prestige as an impartial, intelligent and experienced international jurist and diplomat. I added that I had no idea what Ambassador Accioly’s reaction would be, since I had not spoken to him of the subject, but that it might be possible that Brazil could feel they were sufficiently removed from the area to avoid some of the dangers which we foresaw for ourselves.3

[Page 978]

Ambassador Guell then referred to the Peace Committee and said he was authorized to discuss the matter with members of the Committee. He said he might talk with them before the meeting this afternoon, or might on the other hand see them individually. I advised him informally to follow the latter course starting with Accioly, since if he discussed the matter with the whole group at once before the meeting today, the matter might get out of his control and wind up in the meeting itself without his so desiring. Guell indicated that he would probably follow this course, first calling Habana, if possible, for further instructions.

At the close of the conversation Guell seemed to be somewhat at a loss to know what to do. He spoke of the necessity for Cuba’s doing something, and presumed that they might have their Chargé at Ciudad Trujillo again request release of the Cubans and then just wait awhile. I mentioned at this point that the Uruguayan Ambassador to Peru was apparently also just waiting in Mexico, and observed that he might presumably be going back to Ciudad Trujillo in due course.

Ambassador Guell said he would keep me informed of any steps he took, while Ambassador Machado would do likewise to the Department. After he and I had left Washington, Minister Barón4 would keep in touch with Mr. Burrows.5

  1. In a memorandum of a conversation which took place on October 21, by Ambassador Dreier, dated October 22, 1951, Ambassador Güell was reported to have asked in part whether Ambassador Dreier, in his capacity as Chairman of the Inter-American Peace Committee and probable future chairman of the COAS, could “express semi-officially to the Dominican Government” the hope that the Cuban request for the release of the five imprisoned Cuban crew members of the Quetzal would be granted without further delay (637.39/10-2251).
  2. Hildebrando Pompeu Pinto Accioly, Brazilian Representative on and Chairman of the Council of the Organization of American States.
  3. On October 23, 1951, Ambassador Dreier discussed the Quetzal matter with Ambassador Accioly at the latter’s office in the Pan American Union. The memorandum of that conversation, dated October 23, reads in part as follows: “When Accioly asked me what the U.S. was going to do about this matter, I explained why we could do nothing. He expressed regret at this, since he felt it would be difficult for any other country to do anything if the U.S. did not. I then mentioned the Uruguayan intervention on behalf of Guatemala, which also apparently was news to Accioly. I asked him whether Brazil might do anything in this case, being more removed from the area, and he said he did not know. He had informed his Foreign Office of Guell’s conversation, but he doubted whether the Brazilian Government would want to step in where the U.S. did not.” (637.39/10–2351)
  4. José T. Barón, Cuban Alternate Representative on the Council of the Organization of American States.
  5. Charles R. Burrows, Office of Regional American Affairs.