837.20/173

The Under Secretary of State ( Welles ) to the Ambassador in Cuba ( Messersmith )

Dear George: I have received your interesting air mail letters of May 20 and 21, 1941,7 wherein you comment on the possibility of a military alliance between the United States and Cuba. You also discuss the purpose of the proposed military and naval mission to Cuba.

I understand your misgivings that any efforts made indirectly by President Batista or his Government to suppress talk about an alliance might be misconstrued. I am of the opinion, however, that an alliance of this nature would not materially assist in advancing the defense arrangements of this Hemisphere; on the contrary, in some countries such a move might readily be misunderstood. I still believe, therefore, that this matter should be kept in the background. In view of Dr. Saladrigas’ remarks, mentioned in your air mail despatch no. 2061 of May 23,8 and of the adjournment of the Cuban Congress, this may not be as difficult as was anticipated.

With regard to the possibility of our furnishing Cuba with a military or naval mission, or both, I agree with the suggestion made in your despatch no. 2132 dated June 5, 1941,8 that for the present no action is [Page 103] necessary and that we should await the action of the Cuban Government before doing anything further.

As to what the duties of the members of these missions would be, that would seem to me to be a matter principally for determination by the Cuban military and naval authorities. The assistance of our military and naval attachés in Cuba in this regard might be of considerable value. In several cases the War Department has sent an officer, at the request of the American republic concerned, to investigate the needs of that country with a view to choosing the personnel of a military or aviation mission. I am told that, were Cuba to request such a preliminary survey, the War Department would be prepared to send a qualified officer to Cuba to carry it out.

Sincerely yours,

Sumner Welles
  1. Letter of May 21 not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.