Memorandum by the Secretary of State to the President


Subject: Appointment With Ambassador Machado of Cuba

Final agreement was reached yesterday among the Executive departments on the draft sugar legislation. This is the matter which Ambassador Machado wishes to discuss with you during his conversation this morning.1

The principal changes in the legislation as compared with the 1948 Sugar Act are:

The increase in the quota of Puerto Rico from 910,000 tons to 1,080,000 tons.
The increase in the quota for the so-called full duty countries from 1.36 percent of the amount by which consumption in the United States exceeds the fixed quotas of the domestic areas and the Philippines to 4 percent.
The modification of section 202 (d), under which Cuba was guaranteed a minimum participation in this market, in a way that is slightly less favorable to Cuba.
The omission of section 202(e) which contained authority under which retaliatory action against Cuba might have been taken by reducing the amount of Cuban sugar permitted entry in the United States in the event of discrimination by the Cuban Government against United States trade or industry.

The basic structure of the draft act is the same as that of the 1948 Act with fixed quotas for domestic areas and with Cuba being the principal beneficiary of increases in consumption.

Cuba opposes the increase in the quotas for Puerto Rico and the full-duty countries. It is the belief of the Executive departments, however, that the increase in the Puerto Rican quota is justified by the need to help improve economic conditions in Puerto Rico. The increase in the quota of the full-duty countries, which is shared by Peru, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Mexico, Haiti and other countries, will enable these countries to re-establish the position in this market which they had during the pre-war years 1937–1941 under the 1937 Act.2 We have been under strong pressure from these countries ever [Page 1344] since the passage of the 1948 Act which was less favorable to them than the 1937 Act.

The Executive departments considered continuing the minimum guarantee to Cuba in the form contained in section 202 (d) of the 1948 Act but were finally convinced that this would be strongly opposed by domestic sugar interests and would undoubtedly lead to efforts to modify the legislation after it is sent to Congress. Since the domestic areas, other than Puerto Rico, were receiving no increases in their fixed quotas there was some basis for their view that Cuba, as the principal residual claimant under the Sugar Act of 1948 and under the proposed legislation, should bear the entire burden of the increased quotas provided by the legislation for other areas.

Section 202 (e) had its origin in failure of the Cuban Government to pay certain claims to United States citizens and in discrimination by the Cuban Government against United States industry and commerce. Its incorporation in the 1948 Act evoked such resentment in Cuba that the Cuban Government was virtually assured that it would not be used. Its omission from the present legislation should be well received in Cuba.

It is suggested that you may wish to hand Ambassador Machado the attached memorandum3 which explains the reasons for the changes provided for in the proposed legislation and which, it is hoped, may lead the Cuban Government to give attention to some of the problems in our relations with Cuba which have been neglected by the Cuban Government.4

D [ean] A[cheson]
  1. No memorandum of the conversation between President Truman and Ambassador Machado on June 14 was found in the Department of State files.
  2. For text of the Sugar Act (Public Law 414), approved September 1, 1937, see 50 Stat. 903.
  3. Not printed.
  4. In a memorandum of conversation with the Director of the Sugar Branch, Department of Agriculture (Myers), dated June 14, 1951, Mr. Cale stated in part that it had been reported that President Truman had not given the memorandum to Ambassador Machado because “the President preferred not to become involved in the details of the sugar legislation” during his conversation with the Cuban Ambassador. Mr. Cale stated further that he understood that when Ambassador Machado had handed the President a memorandum containing the Cuban Government’s views on the proposed legislation, the President “had merely commented that it was obviously impossible to satisfy everyone in a situation involving conflicting interests … but that he would ask the Executive departments to study the memorandum.” (811.235/5–951)