13. Letter From the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Rubottom) to the Ambassador in Cuba (Smith)1

Dear Earl : We are giving priority consideration to your telegrams Nos. 442 and 4432 relative to your suggestions on our future course of action in Cuba and hope to incorporate our reply into a single instruction. We here appreciate the ability and hard work you are dedicating to this knotty problem, and the remarkable degree of progress apparent as a result. We feel, therefore that before completing this instruction we should have a résumé from you of just what steps you have taken since your return to Habana to implement the policy paper on Cuba of January 173 which, as you know, had the Secretary’s approval. This should bring us well up to date, so that our thinking here can be guided accordingly.

In this respect, I note that in your telegram 4024 you mentioned that President Batista would incorporate in an address he was to make on January 24 certain suggestions you made to him the previous day. It would be most helpful to get from you a record of your conversation with the President with your views on your suggestions to him and the extent to which they were followed. To formulate a reply to the above-mentioned Embassy communications, I should appreciate receiving your comments on what has been accomplished thus far in carrying out the policy approved last month, in order for us to have a clear picture here of the situation.

The Department’s telegram No. 384 of January 225 was meant to give you the green light on the memorandum of January 17 and I consider it most unfortunate that this communication was delayed some eight days in getting to you. I understand that steps have been taken to insure that the Embassy’s communications center will not permit such a delay to occur again.

It is my understanding that since January 23 you have not seen Batista and that the question of the delivery of the armored cars was not discussed with him personally but with Minister Guell. Do you [Page 24] consider that the message we really wanted to get across to the President on the mutual problem confronting both countries in our sale of arms to Cuba may have been dissipated in transmission?

The policy towards Cuba which we agreed upon during your recent visit has been somewhat complicated by the recent question which has risen relative to the use of MAP equipment and units by the Cuban armed forces. We feel that this matter could be treated in the context of our original policy paper with some modifications but, of course, we will first have to get the concurrence of the Department of Defense.

It would be extremely helpful to us, of course, if we could have the opportunity of discussing these matters with you personally but I believe there would be many an eyebrow raised both here and in Cuba if you were to come to Washington on consultation at this time. I should like your thoughts on the possibility of Dan Braddock’s coming up immediately for a couple of days instead, to give us the benefit of your views on the progress you are making on the policy instruction and to discuss the fast developing Cuban situation.

I would appreciate having your personal views on the progress being made on the January 17 policy paper and the advisability of Dan’s coming to Washington.6 There seems to be an increasing amount of violence throughout Cuba which, no doubt, is an attempt by the militant opposition to force Batista to suspend constitutional guarantees. I hope he does not have to do so, as this might have disastrous consequences. For this reason, I feel that we must act quickly.

Sincerely yours,

R.R. Rubottom, Jr. 7
  1. Source: Department of State, CCA Files: Lot 70 D 149, Arms. Secret; Official-Informal. Drafted by Leonhardy.
  2. Document 11 and supra.
  3. Document 5.
  4. See Document 8.
  5. Document 7.
  6. No reply by Smith has been found.
  7. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.