MID files, lot 56 D 569, “Technical Assistance”

The Ambassador in Cuba ( Gardner ) to Senator Bourke B. Hickenlooper


My Dear Senator: I refer to your letter of October 131 in which you gave background on the study which, pursuant to Senate Resolution 214 of the 83d Congress,2 is being made by a special subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations committee under your chairmanship, regarding the effectiveness of our technical assistance and related programs. You request an expression of my views on the worth and accomplishments of these programs in Cuba, with particular reference to the seven specific points set forth in Section 2 of Senate Resolution 214.

Since your subcommittee is not going to find it possible to include Cuba among the countries to be given on-the-spot study, I am aware, of course, of the special responsibility which your letter places on me and hence I have arranged for Embassy appraisal of these programs to be thorough and objective. I trust that my findings, presented below, on your seven points, will be helpful.

1. Budget funds have been adequate in the past and appear to remain adequate for the future. The only phase of the program that shows any indication for a necessary increase in funds is that for training, due to a tremendous increase in enthusiasm on the part of Cuba for leadership training in the fields of labor and agriculture.

2. There has never been any duplication or confusion between the technical assistance programs in Cuba because all requests for technical assistance must be cleared through the National Economy Board of Cuba (Junta Nacional de Economía de Cuba), therefore, each program retains its separate identity. There is no active United Nations Program and the success of the program of the Organization of American States has been greatly assisted by the activities of the Point IV Program (IIAA).

3. United States agencies such as the Bureau of Mines, Geological Survey, and U.S. Department of Agriculture, have been exceptionally cooperative in making the present technical assistance program to Cuba a success. These agencies have done everything in their power to assist the present program. See also under item 6.

4. As the activities of Point IV have been principally in the field of agriculture, the cooperation of private agencies must be measured by the hundreds of farmers who are receiving advice from Cuban technicians [Page 920] trained in the United States. Local agencies, the activities of which are related to agriculture, such as fertilizer, insecticide and machinery companies, have been most cooperative in all phases of the training and demonstrating programs.

5. Cuba, in its limited capacity, has been 100% cooperative in the technical assistance program, mainly in the form of mutual assistance. They have always been willing to budget whatever money is necessary, but the actual money has not always been available immediately after the budget has been approved. However, the money is eventually available and Cuba continues to do its best under existing conditions to make the program a success.

6. In accordance with separate bilateral agreements which antedated the Mutual Defense Assistance Program (MDAP), the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force Missions to Cuba furnish technical advice and assistance in the training of the corresponding branches of the Cuban Armed Forces.

Under MDAP, operations in Cuba of the Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) are confined to the furnishing of certain military equipment to the Cuban Navy and Air Force. There is no separate MAAG staff in Cuba at the present time, and the Chiefs of the U.S. Air Force and Navy Missions are responsible for MAAG operations.

In addition, the Inter-American Geodetic Survey Group (IAGS), of the U.S. Army Engineers, furnishes technical assistance and equipment to the Cuban National Cartographic Institute in the latter’s program for the mapping of Cuba.

Under the Mutual Security Program, there has been no extension of joint military-economic aid to Cuba.

Apart from conferences with the Ambassador and the Embassy Counselor on matters of policy, there is little direct liaison at working level between our three Service Missions and our FOA Mission because, except for the relatively minor activities cited in the next paragraph, their spheres of operation are parallel with no overlap.

At the request of the Cuban National Cartographic Institute, FOA has arranged for a number of technicians of the Institute to receive 2-month training courses at the IAGS school in the Canal Zone. Similarly, at the request of the Cuban Navy, FOA has arranged for three Cuban Naval Officers to pursue courses, mainly in Washington, devoted to meteorology, tides and currents, and tropical storms.

7. The administration of the program has been very effective in advancing the foreign policy of the United States in assisting Cuba to develop the Kenaf fiber industry. Disease resistant varieties have been established and a process developed to effectively extract the fiber from the plant. The Kenaf industry has reached the stage where it is ready to be taken up by private enterprise and has also achieved its [Page 921] aim in establishing this fiber in the Western Hemisphere for national defense in the event of emergency. The program is now utilizing the same technicians that worked in the Kenaf program, to carry out further research work on other agricultural crops that Cuba is trying to establish in order to diversify.

Sincerely yours,

Arthur Gardner
  1. Not printed.
  2. For text of the resolution, adopted by the Senate on July 6, 1954, providing for a study of U.S. technical assistance programs abroad, see Congressional Record, 83d Cong., 2d Sess., vol. 100 (pt. 7), p. 9717.