582. Letter From the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Mann) to the Ambassador in Cuba (Bonsal)1

Dear Phil: I have your letter of August 2, 1960 to Dick Rubottom2 which I gather has not been answered. You may consider your suggestions somewhat out of date in view of all that has transpired since.

In any case, it seems to me that we cannot really hope for any improvement in our relations with the Castro regime until it takes effective steps to diminish Sino-Soviet influence in internal Cuban affairs and to cease exporting its “revolution” to Latin America. The prospects that Castro will take action along this line seem to me to be very dim, if not non-existent.

Similarly, I don’t believe we really have any chance of working out with the Castro regime a satisfactory solution of the problem of the expropriated properties. Our best bet is to wait for a successor regime in the hope that we can work out something fair and reasonable. In this connection, considering the magnitude of our claims and the need which Cuba will have for development capital, I would think we [Page 1074]should try for a return of the industrial properties to their owners and for at least the return of a part of the sugar and cattle properties. In this way we could hope for adequate compensation for the properties which remain expropriated.

If this is a sound premise, I see no point in proposing the setting up of a compensation fund to be created out of import or export taxes. There is no reason to believe the Cubans would agree. And even if they should, it would seem to me to give a certain degree of finality to the expropriations. Futhermore, the creation of a compensation fund in the manner you suggest, or in some other manner, is something which could be worked out later if this is thought to be wise. We lose nothing by delaying action on this and we might gain considerably by doing so.3

With every good wish,

Sincerely yours,

Thomas C. Mann4
  1. Source: Department of State, Rubottom–Mann Files: Lot 62 D 418, Cuba (July–Sept.) 1960. Secret. Drafted by Mann.
  2. Document 570.
  3. In a reply of October 4, Bonsal acknowledged that his suggestions had been somewhat overtaken by events and agreed that postponement of the creation of a compensation fund as Mann had suggested would be wholly justified. He also observed:

    “I believe that your approach to the expropriated properties is sound in principle. I do not believe we have any prospects of getting back lands taken or to be taken under the Agrarian Reform Law. Nor do I think the prospects of getting back the utility companies are good. This has been an issue in Cuban politics for the past generation. I doubt whether the prospects in connection with the refineries are particularly promising, but I am sure we should make a strong effort here. As for the sugar mills, the outlook may be somewhat better.” (Department of State, Central Files, 837.19/10–460)

  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.