27. Memorandum of a Conversation Between the Cuban Ambassador (Campa) and the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Snow), Department of State, Washington, March 3, 19581


  • Arms to Cuba

Ambassador Campa, at the invitation of Mr. Snow, called on the latter today and, after a brief exchange of pleasantries, was handed a note2 concerning reports of use by the Cuban government of grant military assistance in violation of the terms of the MDA agreement.

Ambassador Campa asked if this action represented a change in U.S. Government policy toward the Cuban situation. Mr. Snow assured him that it did not.

Ambassador Campa said that in view of the attacks by armed insurrectionists against Cuban authorities, the Cuban Government naturally would utilize the means available to it to combat such attacks. Mr. Snow explained that Ambassador Campa would undoubtedly wish to understand that the Department of State was making no reference to any arms or other resources at the disposal of the Cuban Government except those included in grant assistance supplied to Cuba under the terms of the 1952 MDA agreement.

Ambassador Campa contended that when a revolt such as that which took place in Cienfuegos in September occurs, the United States could hardly expect the Cuban Government to delay its action against such revolt until it requests U.S. consent for use of the grant military assistance.

It was explained to the Ambassador that the United States in its note had in mind recurring reports of protracted use by the Cuban Government of grant assistance and that the note did not refer specifically to the incident at Cienfuegos.

Ambassador Campa sought reassurance that the United States was distinguishing between grant assistance and purchased material. Mr. Snow confirmed this. Ambassador Campa thereupon said that in view of the small amount of assistance received under the grant, the problem presented by the U.S. note would probably not be of major proportions.

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The Ambassador said that he would forward the note to his Government and would not discuss it with anyone. He asked if the Department of State intended to give information concerning the note to the press. Mr. Snow said that the Department did not intend to do so, “at least for the moment”.

(Subsequently, at Mr. Snow’s request, I informed Ambassador Campa that Mr. Rubottom would probably be interrogated on the subject of arms to Cuba during his appearance before a Senate committee and might have some remarks on the subject of arms to Cuba. I said, however, that Mr. Rubottom would give careful consideration to whatever statements he made on the subject.)

On leaving Mr. Snow’s office, Ambassador Campa remarked that the note “will certainly not be of any help to the Government of Cuba”. It was explained to the Ambassador that it was unfortunate that the alleged violations of the agreement left us no recourse but to make it the subject of the note that we had handed him which indeed was couched in the friendliest terms possible under the circumstances. He agreed and made his farewells.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.56/3–358. Confidential. Drafted by Wieland and initialed by Wieland and Snow.
  2. In this note, dated March 3, the U.S. Government inquired whether the reports were true that the Cuban Government was disregarding the provisions of the 1952 Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement. (ibid., 737.5–MSP/3–358)