Eisenhower Library, Eisenhower papers, Whitman file, DullesHerter series

Memorandum by the Secretary of State to the President



  • Proposed Modification of Sugar Act Unwise and Unfair.

The Ambassador of Cuba has requested, upon instruction from President Batista, an audience with you to bring to your attention the grave consequences which would result for Cuba if the Sugar Act should be modified as proposed by certain segments of the domestic sugar industry to increase United States quotas by 225,000 tons and to provide that domestic producers receive 55% of further increases in United States consumption.

The Sugar Act of 1951 provides that the Secretary of Agriculture shall estimate total United States requirements annually. It establishes a tonnage to be supplied by domestic producers and provides that the excess shall go to foreign producers. The quotas established in the 1951 Act caused a reduction in Cuba’s annual exports to the United States of approximately 240,000 tons. Cuba accepted this reduction because the Act allocates to foreign producers any increases in United States consumption. She interpreted this as giving her a chance to recoup the 240,000 tons by which the 1951 Act reduced her sales. She was led to this conclusion by the position assumed by the spokesman for the domestic sugar industry who stated to the House Committee on Agriculture that the 1951 bill would settle the question of quotas for the four-year period ending in 1956 which it contemplates. This position of the United States industry spokesman was accorded much weight by the Cuban Government.

Without objection from the Bureau of the Budget the Department informed the Senate Committee on Finance of its opposition to pending bills to increase domestic quotas a total of 300,000 tons. The new proposal if adopted might easily tip the scales to cause revolution in Cuba and would certainly increase instability and promote anti-American feeling and communist activity in the Caribbean area. It would be a blow to the Cuban economy already suffering from severe curtailment [Page 903] of sugar production and lower prices. It would result in corresponding reductions in the considerable United States exports to Cuba and would jeopardize the concept of Cuba as a strategic sugar reserve.

It is recommended that when you receive the Ambassador of Cuba you assure him that if such a proposal for modification of the Sugar Act should be presented to the United States Government, the Administration will, in determining its position, give very careful consideration to the situation of Cuba and the effect of the proposal upon United States-Cuban relations.

John Foster Dulles