The Counselor of Embassy for Economic Affairs in Cuba (Clark) to Mr. Harvey R. Wellman of the Office of Middle American Affairs
Dear Harvey: Your letter of August 9th1 regarding Ambassador Guell’s2 suggestion that the Cuban Government might make a small air contingent available to the Korean effort in lieu of a battalion of ground troops, reached me yesterday. I did not have an opportunity to explore it until this morning, as yesterday was a local holiday, informal variety in commemoration, I believe, of the overthrow of the Machado3 regime. In any event I got Guell this morning and while the result of the conversation was not particularly satisfactory I want to pass along to you the reflection of our talk for what that may be worth.
I explained to Guell that I was afraid that there was considerable disappointment that the Cuban Government seemed to feel that it is inexpedient to make further plans for sending a battalion of ground troops to Korea. In reply, Guell repeated again the decision which apparently was reached in the Council of Ministers that for political reasons stemming principally from next year’s elections it had been decided that it would not be politic to send Cuban troops to Korea, [Page 1357] Unfortunately, the campaign for volunteers for such service seems to have been a source of considerable embarrassment to the Cuban Army, the implication being that the Army is unable to perform its responsibilities and that the volunteer campaign is a natural outgrowth of a basic desire of some Cubans to participate in the Korea effort. In any event I got the very definite impression that ground troops from Cuba for Korea, volunteer or from Army Forces, is now and will be during the coming year pretty much out of the question.
We then discussed the suggestion of the contribution of a few fighter or pursuit planes by Cuba and I think that Guell was rather amazed when he realized that a squadron would consist of no less than 9 planes with a supporting flying and ground personnel of something like 200 men. This is far beyond what they had been thinking of and Guell confessed that the maximum contemplated was about 3 pursuit planes and possibly 30 or 40 men who could be drawn, not from the Army but, from other sources. He was, of course, thinking in terms of Cuba supplying funds for the purpose of aircraft in the United States and when I pointed out that the problem is not one of funds but of material and equipment which should be drawn from Cuban sources, he seemed completely stymied.
I advanced to Ambassador Guell as a purely potential suggestion which he might care to explore with the Ministry, the Pentagon suggestion4 that Cuba might be able to send to Korea 3 or 4 of the C–47 Douglas planes which are now in the possession of the Cuban Army Air Force. I mentioned that such a transport unit would constitute a token contribution by Cuba to the Korean effort, that the equipment would draw from Cuban supplies and that the personnel required to fly and maintain these transport planes would probably be considerably reduced as compared with that for the pursuit units.
Guell seemed to be relieved and pleased with the idea of the contribution of the transport planes and he told me he would discuss it immediately with the Foreign Minister. I suspect that the Minister will then feel out the Cuban Aviation people who may not be too enthusiastic about giving up 3 or 4 of their C–47’s. In any event Guell promised to let me know of any developments as soon as he could. If and when there are any I will certainly pass the word along to you without delay.
- Not printed.↩
- Gonzalo Güell, Special Consultant, Cuban Ministry of State.↩
- Gerardo Machado, President of Cuba, 1925–1933.↩
- At this point the margin of the source text bears an asterisk, and after the signature appears the following handwritten notation, evidently by Mr. Clark: “I told Guell this is my idea. I did not mention its having originated in the Pentagon.”↩