432. Despatch From the Embassy in Cuba to the Department of State1

No. 1011

SUBJECT

  • Call on Acting Foreign Minister Marcelo Fernandez Font

I called this afternoon at 3:30 on the Acting Foreign Minister, Mr. Marcelo Fernandez Font, in order to inform him that I had been called to Washington on consultation by the Secretary of State and was departing the following morning. He replied that he hoped my absence would not be a long one and made some complimentary remarks. I said that I did not know how long I would be absent and added that Mrs. Bonsal was accompanying me.

Sr. Fernandez then said that he had been studying the note which I had delivered to him on January 112 with the President and the Prime Minister, that he expected to have a reply shortly. I asked him whether this was “insulting” note which the Government was about “to reject” according to Revolución. He said that he thought that Revolución’s reaction had not been the Government’s reaction and he referred to the statement which he himself had made on the note. I told him that Revolución was generally, and, in my opinion, rightly regarded as the official organ of the Cuban Government.

One thing then led to another and we found ourselves engaged in quite a heated discussion of Cuban-American relations. On the question of the planes which have been dropping inflammable material on the Cuban cane fields, I told him there was no evidence whatever that these had come from the United States and that they might well have originated in Cuba or elsewhere, but that everyone here in the Government, [Page 758]from the Prime Minister down, had accused us. I referred to the “Pearl Harbor” incident and its treatment by the Cuban Government as a further example of a malevolent predisposition on the part of the Cuban Government on matters affecting the United States.

The Minister then turned to the question of tourism and the efforts made by the Cuban Government to attract tourists from the United States as an evidence of affection for the American people. I said that I too favored tourism but did not see how tourists could be attracted if Cuban Government spokesmen spoke almost daily of “invasions” and “Pearl Harbors”. The Minister said that the Government did fear invasions owing to the machinations of its enemies. I rejoined that in that case it should not endeavor to attract Americans here who might be trapped in case of hostility.

I went into a pretty general description of our reaction to the Prime Minister’s public appearances on the subject of the United States and told him that I felt that our Government, its leaders and its institutions had been consistently slandered and insulted. I also said that I felt that my own efforts of an 11-months period to establish a basis of understanding and confidence between our two governments had not been reciprocated. I stated that I had endeavored, not without success, to achieve an understanding of the economic, political and social aims of the Cuban people.

The Acting Foreign Minister then said that he had often heard from President Dorticos and Prime Minister Castro what a high opinion they had of me. I said that, of course, this was gratifying but that they should realize that I was wholly identified with my Government and that my Government represents the people of the United States in a far truer sense than do the governments of many other countries.

The Minister then expressed the hope that I would be returning soon and that there would be an opportunity to negotiate on matters of mutual interest. He added that Minister Roa will be returning on the 27th, having cut short his trip somewhat.

On leaving the Ministry, I was approached by a half dozen press representatives. I told them that I had been called to Washington by the Secretary of State on consultation and had just taken leave of the Minister. In reply to a question, I said that I did not know how long I would be absent. I was asked whether I had any comment to make of Prime Minister Castro’s observations about the American Embassy in his January 20 television appearance.3 I said that if anything were to be taken up regarding the activities of the American Embassy it should be taken up through normal channels.

Philip W. Bonsal
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.37/1–2260. Confidential; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Bonsal.
  2. See Document 422.
  3. See Document 430.