518. Memorandum From the Acting Secretary of State to the President1

SUBJECT

  • Determination under Section 552 of the Mutual Security Act of 1954, as amended, approving continuance of assistance under that Act to Cuba

The Mutual Security Act of 1960 adds a new section 552 in the Mutual Security Act of 1954, as amended (hereinafter referred to as [Page 915]“the Act”),2 which prohibits the furnishing of assistance under the Act to Cuba after the date of enactment of the Mutual Security Act of 1960 unless the President determines that such assistance is in the national and hemispheric interest of the United States.

The purpose of this memorandum is to recommend that you determine, pursuant to section 552 of the Act, that it is in the national and hemispheric interest of the United States to continue assistance under the Act to Cuba for a period of up to 180 days following the date of enactment of the Mutual Security Act of 1960, in order to permit the orderly conclusion of assistance under the Act.

The assistance now being furnished to Cuba under the Act consists of two technical cooperation projects and the training of two Cuban nationals in the United States under the technical cooperation program. The first project is a civil aviation project under which there is being provided advisory assistance in air navigation aids and airways communications for purpose of general air safety. The second project is an advisory one in agriculture, with emphasis on development of an agricultural experiment station. Both of these projects are being conducted under project agreements which are effective until June 30, 1960. The two Cuban students now receiving participant training in the United States will complete their courses of study by the end of August.

Within the last eighteen months, several technical cooperation projects have been completed and terminated. There have been several unofficial requests for new technical assistance projects from certain Cuban officials, but these have not been supported by official requests at the necessary level from the Cuban Government. Further, the intentions of the Cuban Government with respect to continuation of the two existing projects have not been made clear and no official request has been received from the Cuban Government for continuation of these activities beyond the presently agreed-upon completion dates.

In view of the absence of any demonstrated interest of the present Cuban Government in continuation of United States assistance, it is not considered that continuation of the program for the next fiscal year can be determined to be in the national or hemispheric interest of the United States. However, it is believed that continuance of the above-mentioned assistance to Cuba under the Act for a period of up to 180 days would be in the national and hemispheric interest of the United States. It would permit an orderly phasing out of activities, the conclusion of projects in accordance with the provisions of the applicable agreements, the gradual withdrawal of United States technical assistance [Page 916]and personnel, and the orderly transfer of project responsibility to Cuban technicians. This would not only serve to minimize the adverse effect of an abrupt departure of United States technical personnel, but would permit the completion of certain project activity, such as final machinery development and report preparation for the kenaf rope-fiber investigation and development work which is now in its final stages. A total of $350,000 has heretofore been planned for continuation of the technical cooperation program for the entire fiscal year of 1961. Only a portion of this amount would be required to phase out activities for up to 180 days.

In sum, the conclusion within the 180 day period of all existing technical cooperation activities in Cuba would not require the cancellation of any existing aid commitments to Cuba nor the rejection of any formal Cuban requests for aid now on hand.

It may be noted that funds appropriated pursuant to section 409(c) of the Act are, in accordance with the terms of that section, being used to finance ocean freight charges on shipments by private United States voluntary relief agencies of relief items for needy people in Cuba as well as other countries. It has been concluded that such financing does not constitute assistance to Cuba within the meaning of section 552 of the Act and thus that it is not necessary to deal with it in the determination which is herein proposed. Accordingly, it is planned to continue this financing for voluntary agency shipments of relief goods for needy Cubans not only during the 180 day period referred to in this memorandum but also thereafter.

Assistance to Cuba has been and is being furnished pursuant to basic bilateral assistance agreements pre-dating both the Batista and Castro regimes. It is not considered necessary or desirable for the United States to terminate these basic agreements. Their continuation in force would provide a basis for resumption of assistance if you should later determine that such action would serve our national and hemispheric interest. In this connection, it is contemplated that if any future request is received from the Cuban Government for assistance it will be evaluated in light of the circumstances then prevailing and, if it appears that a favorable response may significantly serve important United States national interests, will be referred to you for consideration.

IT IS, ACCORDINGLY, RECOMMENDED that you sign the enclosed memorandum3 which contains the determination required by the Act in order to continue assistance to Cuba.

[Page 917]

The Director of the Bureau of the Budget concurs in this recommendation.

Douglas Dillon
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Central Files, Confidential File.
  2. The Mutual Security Act of 1960, approved May 14, 1960; for text, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1960, pp. 841–852.
  3. This memorandum, signed by the President on May 14, is not printed. On May 27, the Department issued a statement indicating that on the previous day the Embassy in Havana had delivered a note to the Cuban Government informing it of the Presidential determination. For text of the statement, see Department of State Bulletin, June 13, 1960, p. 962.