Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Charles C. Hauch of the Office of Middle American Affairs1


Subject: Quetzal Case2

Participants: Ambassador Nufer, Director of MID
Ambassador Beaulac, U.S. Ambassador to Cuba
Mr. Charles R. Burrows, Deputy Director of AR and U.S. Acting Representative on the Inter-American Peace Committee.
Mr. Edward A. Jamison3AR
Mr. Hobart Spalding, Intelligence Adviser—ARA
Mr. Harvey R. Wellman, Acting Officer in Charge, Caribbean Affairs—MID
Mr. Charles C. Hauch, Caribbean Affairs—MID

This meeting was held to review the Department’s position with reference to the “Quetzal” case, particularly in the light of information from the Embassy at Habana that the Cuban Foreign Minister was planning to come to Washington in connection with “Quetzal” matter and would probably wish to discuss it with Ambassador Beaulac, now on consultation in the Department.

After considerable discussion of the whole “Quetzal” matter, the sense of the meeting was as follows:

That the Department and particularly the U.S. Ambassador to Cuba should avoid getting involved in the controversy between the Cuban and Dominican Governments which had been referred to the Inter-American Peace Committee.
That Ambassador Beaulac not change his travel plans but return to Habana on December 1 as projected.
That the Department should receive the Cuban Foreign Minister or other Cuban representatives if they should call for an appointment and that Ambassador Beaulac should be present at any such meeting, but that the Department should discourage any call by the Foreign Minister at the Department to discuss the “Quetzal” matter, in view of its having been placed before the Peace Committee and the desirability of avoiding prejudicing the position of the United States representative on the Committee.
That if the Cuban Foreign Minister or other Cuban representatives in discussions with Department officers should make a final effort to get the U.S. to influence the Dominican government to release the Cuban seamen, the suggestion be made to the Cuban representatives that they communicate with the Chairman of the Peace Committee. (In this connection Ambassador Beaulac stressed that our reply to any such Cuban suggestion should be of a nature acceptable to Cuba and helpful to a solution of the problem.)
That if prior to Ambassador Beaulac’s return to Cuba, the Cuban Foreign Minister should wish to discuss the matter with him, the Ambassador should of course see him, but should make clear our position in the foregoing sense.
That the Department should interpose no objection to the fulfillment of an order of the Dominican Government for three combat aircraft from Canada. (Ambassador Nufer communicated that this decision had been taken at the ARA staff meeting.)

  1. Drafted by Mr. Hauch on December 4, and rewritten by Mr. Wellman on December 10.
  2. On November 23, 1951, the Dominican Government had put the crew members of the Quetzal on trial. All of the crew were convicted of engaging in subversive activities; the three Guatemalan and five Cuban sailors were sentenced to 30 years at hard labor. Upon appeal, the two Dominicans involved were acquitted, and the sentences of the others were reduced. Pertinent documents are in Department of State decimal files 637.39 and 739.00.
  3. Officer in Charge, Special Political Problems, Office of Regional American Affairs.