329. Memorandum From the Secretary of State to the President 1

SUBJECT

  • Recommendations of Mr. Robert Kleberg on the Cuban Situation

I read with interest the recommendations of Bob Kleberg concerning the Cuban situation which you enclosed with your letter of June 27, 1959.2 He came in to see me on June 243 for the purpose of discussing the probable expropriation of his large cattle ranch in Cuba under the terms of the Agrarian Reform Law which has been promulgated by Prime Minister Castro’s Government. The situation in which he finds himself is indeed most vexatious and frustrating and I sympathize deeply with him. We are making every possible effort to persuade the Cuban Government to consider the very real contribution which an investment such as Bob’s has made to the benefit of Cuba, in the hope that some amelioration might be obtained in the law’s implementation. Also, we are standing firmly on the principle that such expropriation, if carried out, must provide for adequate, prompt and effective compensation.

I do not believe it is necessary for you to reply to Bob or comment on his recommendations. However, if he should raise the question with you again, I would suggest you simply say that the Department of State is giving every possible consideration to his case. Although [Page 553] they are understandable under the circumstances, I believe that the execution of any one of his recommendations at this time would not achieve his desired objective and would be likely to bring strong criticism upon the United States from most other Latin American countries to the delight of Communist propagandists.

Christian A. Herter
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Dulles–Herter Series. No drafting or clearance information is given on the source text, which bears the initials “DE.”
  2. An unsigned White House staff note, dated June 25, indicated that Kleberg had met with the President for about an hour that day and that he had requested the meeting “on the grounds that he could tell the President (and no one else) certain things.” Attached to the staff note were several documents, including an undated, unsigned memorandum, presumably prepared by Kleberg, which listed the following five “immediate steps available”:

    • “1. Suspend Cuban Sugar quota as of July 15, 1959 unless properties, now seized, are returned intact before that date.
    • “2. Immediately seize all Cuban assets in the United States (government and private).
    • “3. Require passports and visas for Cuba, and issue no tourist visas.
    • “4. Order fleet on routine Caribbean maneuvers.
    • “5. Announce that in 1898 we fought to free Cubans from tyranny—we will not stand by now and allow Communism to permanently destroy this freedom.” (ibid., Staff Notes)

    In his letter of June 27 to Herter, to which was attached a copy of Kleberg’s memorandum, the President wrote he had “not thought it necessary to comment to Bob or to reply to his communication. If you think there would be any value in my saying anything whatsoever in the matter, I will be glad to do so.” (ibid., DDE Diaries)

  3. See Document 324.