810.20 Defense/883

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

Dear Sumner: I have your letter of June 30th in reply to mine of June 20th15 referring to my despatch No. 2209 of June 19, 1941, with respect to the desires expressed by President Batista for the building of several airfields in Cuba. I appreciate very much the attention [Page 109] which you have given this matter and note you will be discussing it with General Marshall16 and Admiral Stark.17

The more I ponder over this matter of the airfields, the more I am impressed with the necessity of our doing something about it without delay. I think the Cuban Government will not be able to make any financial contribution, as the financial situation in the Government is so difficult that I do not see how they can make any worthwhile contribution. My own feeling is that if we have to bear the whole cost ourselves and even though the fields remain the property of the Cuban Government, we should go ahead with the matter without delay. The Cuban Government will, I am sure, be able to expropriate the land at reasonable cost so that the actual acquisition of the land by the Cuban Government should represent no considerable amount. The places at which the fields should be constructed and the technical details are matters on which I can offer no comment as I do not have adequate competence. I do believe that the erection of the fields without delay is necessary—and this aside from what we are doing to help the Pan American with a field at Camagüey.

With all good wishes,

Cordially and faithfully yours,

George S. Messersmith
  1. Neither printed.
  2. Gen. George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff.
  3. Adm. Harold R. Stark, Chief of Naval Operations.