737.5 MSP/1–953: Telegram

The Ambassador in Cuba ( Beaulac ) to the Department of State

top secret

332. Reference Circular Airgram November 24, 1952, 3:45 p.m. and Top Secret cirtel 722 January 7, 1953.1

Cuba’s economic development in recent past has been retarded less by inadequate technical assistance than by official corruption and demagoguery and by nationalistic and restrictive laws and practices which have discouraged private investment. In circumstances our Point IV program is small and directed at objectives of immediate as well as long-range importance to United States and Cuba.

Most important is cooperative fiber project aimed at development Kenaf industry which in turn it is hoped will help make continent less dependent on bagging material from Far East.

Considerable success has attended program. Kenaf varieties developed adaptable Cuban conditions which have high percent good quality fiber and resistant disease. Decorticating methods and machinery developed and have demonstrated feasibility mechanizing extraction Kenaf fiber.

Although project still experimental, more than $1 million private capital invested in industry last year and all companies and private individuals now operating expected expand or continue plantings this year.

Cuban Government attaches great importance to Kenaf project and gives full credit American cooperation. Cuban requirements bagging fiber approximately 110 million pounds annually which would require 110,000 acres to grow and labor of 10,000 workers three months annually during sugar industry’s dead season. Land for Kenaf industry immediately available without disturbing other crops or industries.

Minerals program and limited aid in specialized fields authorized but United States has failed implement program apparently for bureaucratic reasons. Program is of great importance to United States and should be implemented promptly.

Embassy recently instructed by Department State suggest to Cuban Government that present overall Point IV Agreement2 which is working satisfactorily be replaced by more complicated and cumbersome agreement which probably would conflict with Cuban Constitution. [Page 882] Embassy and competent Cuban officials opposed to adding to or replacing existing agreement at this time.

Cuban Air Force received grant aid during 1952 which is being used increase operational effectiveness aircraft. Additional such aid planned for 1953 and 1954. While grant aid given fairly promptly, great delays have occurred in connection reimbursable aid. Recommend reimbursable aid be given higher priority and encouraged and that red tape in connection therewith be reduced.

1953 program of grant aid is planned for Cuban Navy. Meanwhile, Cuban Government taking useful steps place vessels and naval aircraft in state of readiness.

Military coup 10 March 1952 raised delicate problems for United States in view close cooperation with Cuban Armed Forces which are more preoccupied with domestic political situation and maintaining own political position than with contributing continental defense. Essential our military assistance be quiet and discreet and that air and high-ranking military officers and public ceremonies in connection such visits be sharply limited.

Sudden decrease Cuban Government’s revenues and fact majority Cuban people living under very difficult economic conditions makes it especially important we keep our requests for Cuban contributions in money to minimum.

Combination of (1) political tension following violent change in government which occurred 10 March 1952 when Batista assumed Presidency by force, and (2) sudden drop in income from sugar due to withholding large amount last year’s crop from market and to limitation this year’s crop naturally limits Cuba’s ability cooperate in specific matters with United States. Nevertheless, present regime committed to policy cooperation and in some ways is giving more satisfactory cooperation than Constitutional regime which preceded it.

  1. The referenced airgram (700.5 MSP/11–2452) and circular telegram (700.5 MSP/1–753) requested reports from chiefs of mission abroad concerning the status of programs authorized by the Mutual Security Act of 1951.

    For text of the Mutual Security Act (Public Law 165), approved Oct. 10, 1951, see 65 Stat. 373.

  2. For text of the general agreement for technical cooperation, signed at Habana, June 20, 1951, and entered into force on the same date, see TIAS No. 2272, or 2 UST (pt. 2) 1231.