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294. Memorandum of a Conversation, Washington, April 23, 19591

SUBJECT

  • Cuban Affairs

PARTICIPANTS

  • Dr. Joaquín Meyer, Financial Counselor, Cuban Embassy; Representative of the Cuban Sugar Stabilization Institute
  • Mr. William A. Wieland—Director, CMA
  • Mr. Edward S. Little—Deputy Director, CMA
[Page 485]

In the course of a luncheon today, Dr. Meyer raised the following points:

1.
Dr. Meyer thought that the Castro visit had gone off very well and was successful. He expressed his view that, following the return to Cuba of Castro, the United States should assess his direction in terms of United States-Cuban relations and should make up its mind whether it wished, on the basis of Castro’s performance, to get behind him or to part ways with him. He thought that the United States should assay the situation after Castro’s return, then determine its course of action. He warned against an indecisive, “wobbly” position.
2.
Commenting on the three economic advisers accompanying Castro, Dr. Meyer said that he regards Minister Boti and Felipe Pazos as very able but with very little influence. Minister Lopez Fresquet, he thought, is close to Castro but spoke disparagingly of his motives.
3.
Dr. Meyer said that he had heard that Assistant Secretary Mann has recommended that the Congress take no action on the extension of the Sugar Act until 1960. He commented that some members of the U.S. sugar industry were disturbed by this position. Dr. Meyer said that he thought that this would be a great mistake because of the political repercussions of not having this issue resolved at this time. He thought that leaving the issue unresolved would give Castro the opportunity to use it for the next year whenever he wished to divert attention from domestic problems and that this would result in deterioration of United States-Cuban political relations. He expressed concern that Communists and others would also exploit the error throughout the hemisphere. Dr. Meyer believes that simple extension, even though it does not meet Castro’s current public position, would mean that the question of the sugar quota, as an issue, would be eliminated, at least for this critical period. On the other hand, he thought, to recommend suspended action at this time would result in a far worsened situation, and he predicted an even more critical problem for the United States when the issue comes up again before the next session of Congress. He emphasized that he was speaking personally, and not in any official capacity. He said he wished to make this clear because be expects the Cuban Government will soon officially request better treatment for Cuban sugar. Dr. Meyer thought he might want to discuss his views on the matter with Mr. Mann or Mr. Turkel.

[Here follows discussion of visa matters.]

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/4–2359. Official Use Only. Drafted by Little and Wieland.