277. Memorandum of a Conversation Between the Officer in Charge of Caribbean Affairs in the Office of Middle American Affairs (Hoyt) and the Chief of the Economic Section of the Cuban Ministry of State (Meyer), Department of State, Washington, July 13, 19551

SUBJECT

  • Sugar

Ambassador Meyer said that he, Ing. Amadeo Lopez Castro and Dr. Arturo Mañas had returned to Washington because it now looked as if there might be more chance sugar legislation would be forthcoming in this session of Congress. He said the Cubans were also concerned over rumors that Chairman Cooley desired to give greater benefits to the full duty countries. Dr. Meyer said he presumed this was a move on Cooley’s part and did not represent the Administration’s point of view. I assured him that the Administration had made its statement on the division with the full duty countries and that this was still the Administration’s position.

Ambassador Meyer also said that the Cuban Foreign Office had delivered to our Embassy on July 12 a note2 again protesting any change in the Sugar Act before January 1, 1957 and setting forth arguments against the division proposed by the Administration of the quota between Cuba and the full duty countries. It was evident that the Cubans are more concerned about the full duty division than they are the proposals made regarding the regular domestic and Cuban quotas. Dr. Meyer pointed out that any change in the Act prior to 1957 would present the Cubans with a very difficult domestic political situation because it would be “impossible” to explain to the Cuban public. He referred to Cooley’s proposal that 60 or 70 thousand tons of sugar be purchased in 1956 to compensate Cuba for the loss it would take under the Administration bill. He indicated that Cuba would be interested in such a proposal because it would then give them an answer to Cuban criticism of a change in the Act.

In answer to my question the Ambassador said that he and his group had come with full authority to indicate the extent to which Cuba was prepared to compromise on sugar legislation should they be asked. Dr. Meyer did not indicate what his instructions were.

As I have with other Cubans, I emphasized to Ambassador Meyer that his government should give careful consideration as to [Page 822]the political climate next year before insisting that there should be no change in sugar legislation this year. I pointed out to him that Chairman Cooley has stressed throughout the question of a “moral agreement” with Cuba and that once that consideration was eliminated with termination of the Act next year Mr. Cooley’s attitude towards legislation might change and that other members of the Committee who have shown sympathy for the Cuban position might also feel that any obligation to Cuba had been fulfilled. Dr. Meyer said that he and his Government understood this perfectly and that this was one of the reasons why the Cuban group had returned to follow the hearings closely.

Comment:

Given the complicated nature of the sugar legislation it probably wouldn’t do any good to discuss with the Cubans just how far they are willing to go because we probably couldn’t meet their wishes. Nevertheless, if legislation should get so bogged down that it can’t be passed at this session, it might be well between now and January to ascertain the Cuban views. I again gained the impression that the Cubans are not too upset over the main part of the Administration’s proposals but that they do feel strongly on the division between the full duty countries and Cuba. (On July 13 Dr. Meyer gave me, on an informal basis, a copy of the note sent by the Cubans to our Embassy. I sent this copy to Mr. Holland.)

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 811.235/7–1355. Official Use Only. Drafted by Hoyt.
  2. Not printed. (Ibid., 837.235/7–1855)