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

No. 1131

Sir: Reference is made to the Department’s instruction No. 793 of July 25, 1941 forwarding a draft agreement for the proposed Guantánamo extension and to your despatch no. 2919 of November 1225 returning Draft F consisting of the Cuban counter-proposal which would establish “A Cuban military zone for joint defense” adjacent to the present United States Naval Station at Guantánamo.

There is now enclosed what may be designated as Draft H.26 This draft has been developed from the Cuban draft by a representative of the Navy Department and officers of the several Divisions of the Department concerned, including the Legal Adviser, the Liaison Officer, the Division of the American Republics and the Treaty Division. The translation from the Spanish of Draft F apparently resulted in inconsistencies in the English versions of Drafts D and F. These have been corrected and the phraseology usual in such agreements has been formalized.

You may find the accompanying memorandum of December 19 from the Treaty Division27 of some use in understanding the reasons for formalizing and increasing the precision of the English draft. The following additional observations may also be of interest.

It appears to the Department that the fact of mentioning in the first paragraph of Article I of the Cuban Draft G that the zone will be “commanded, occupied and administered by the armed forces of the Republic of Cuba” et cetera, creates a doubt as to sovereignty. It should be taken for granted that the zone is Cuban, as clearly indicated by the title and that it will be so commanded, et cetera, by Cuban forces.
The more general language of Article II of Draft H as to the powers of the Joint Commission, as compared with the text in Draft F appears to both the Navy Department and this Department to be far preferable. The English translation of this portion of Draft F has been thoroughly overhauled for clarity without, in the Department’s opinion, affecting its intent.
With regard to the insertion in Article VII of the clause “who may be hired locally”, the Navy Department points out that the engagement of certain skilled workmen and foremen in the United States for temporary employment in connection, for example, with installations of delicate apparatus, should be retained within the Navy’s jurisdiction. The Department sees no reason for objection to this clause.
The Navy Department in connection with the second sentence of Article VIII of Draft F feels that for it to obligate itself to install “the instrumentalities which may be indispensable” is an invitation to misunderstanding or misinterpretation. The reservation of the right to make such installations as now provided in the second sentence appears to obviate this danger. In the next paragraph the Navy Department has considered it advisable to insert the word “remaining”, which would permit the replacement of equipment during the life of the agreement, the removal of equipment to other zones of action as military necessities may dictate, and would yet assure that property of the United States Government in the zone upon termination of the agreement would become Cuban property as desired by the Cuban Government.

You are authorized to sign the agreement on the basis of the attached draft if it meets with the approval of the Cuban Government. The Navy Department concurs.

While there is no need for you to submit to the Department for final approval the Spanish version of this agreement, you are requested to satisfy yourself of the accuracy of the Spanish text. Any minor modifications desired by the Cuban Government in the English text should however be cleared by telegraph with the Department.

Yours very truly,

For the Secretary of State:
Sumner Welles
  1. Despatch not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not found in Department files.