• U.S.

CABINET: Wrinkle Remover

4 minute read

It is Statesman Franklin Roosevelt’s ambitious plan to have next month’s Pan-American Conference in Lima put as much starch into Democracy as Japanese armies and Munich have put into Autocracy. Last week the State Department announced the members of the U. S. delegation to Lima, which will be headed by Secretary of State Hull.

To the expected front of diplomats— Ambassador to Peru Laurence Stainhardt, Minister to the Dominican Republic R. Henry Norweb, the State Department’s legal adviser, Green H. Hackworth, and its roving, wondrous Assistant Secretary Adolf Augustus Berle Jr.—Secretary Cordell Hull added an ingratiating prize package. To give Latin America its first look at a big Republican since Herbert Hoover’s battleship visit of 1928, and to stress national unity, the Secretary named President-reject Alf M. Landon of Topeka, Kans.

Other delegates: Bryn Mawr College’s Charles G. Fenwick, top-flight expert on political science; Chief Justice Emilio del Toro Cuevas of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico; President Dan W. Tracy of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; Miss Kathryn Lewis, who quit Bryn Mawr to help her famed father John L., with U. A. W.; Rev. John F. O’Hara, president of Notre Dame University; Mrs. Elise F. Musser, who had kept herself before South American eyes by paying a flying visit to the continent last year with a group of U. S. women on a People’s Mandate to urge ratification of Inter-American treaties drafted at Buenos Aires two years ago.

So that these Good Neighbors will go over even better at Lima than their predecessors did at Buenos Aires, the Administration last week applied remover to the two outstanding wrinkles in its Latin American relations.

Dictator. Franklin Roosevelt five years ago sent aristocratic Ambassador Sumner Welles to pluck Cuba from under the heel of bloody President Gerardo (“The Butcher”) Machado. That chunky brown soldier, Fulgencio Batista y Zaldivar, organized a revolt against Ambassador Welles’s dummy President Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, made himself Cuba’s army chief and proceeded to set up and knock down presidents of his own in a way that has made Dictator Machado look almost constitutional.

As a Good Neighborly gesture, Dictator Batista was invited by his counterpart in name only, U. S. Chief of Staff Malin Craig, to attend last week’s celebration of Armistice Day at Arlington National Cemetery. Boss Batista eagerly left Cuba for the first time in his 37 years, turned up with his buxom lady, several aides and a trunkful of uniforms. His old enemy Sumner Welles, now Under Secretary of State, was the first to pump his hand at Union Station. To make the welcome royal, the U. S. Army band struck up the Cuban national anthem, and with a blare of trumpets gave the beaming Colonel a full general’s salute.

When Ambassador Pedro Martinez Fraga squired him to the White House. Boss Batista tactfully changed his uniform and spurs for a sporty grey suit and blue fedora. Franklin Roosevelt talked to him half an hour about Cuba. Afterward, Batista bubbled: “I was able to ascertain the enormous goodness in the President’s character.”

Washington newshawks, bending over backward to find polite synonyms for “dictator,” discovered that: 1) Dictator Batista has a cigaret holder like Franklin Roosevelt’s amber one; 2) unlike the President he takes it out of his mouth when he talks; 3) he likes to sleep until 11 a. m., then brunches, sees visitors, plays squash or tennis; 4) he then works until 1 or 2 a. m., after that he sees movies; 5) he likes newsreels of Mussolini, of which he once saw seven in one night; 7) he says that sometimes he likes what Mussolini does, sometimes he doesn’t.

Settlement. An awkward Latin American wrinkle this year has been the bitter renewal of the eleven-year-old U. S.-Mexican quarrel over agrarian land expropriations. Last week. Secretary Hull released a cordial exchange of notes with Mexican Foreign Minister Eduardo Hay, embodying a settlement.

Terms: the 253 claims already filed by U. S. landowners, and all future claims, will be adjudicated by a two-man commission, one member chosen by each country. If these two fail to agree a third commissioner will be appointed by a permanent commission of inquiry at Washington. Mexico will put $1,000,000 on the line by May 1939, at least that sum each year thereafter until the claims, unofficially estimated at $10,000,000 to $15,000,000, are settled. As his commissioner President Roosevelt promptly chose Lawrence Lawson of the U.S.-Mexican International Boundary Commission. President Cardenas named Gustavo P. Serrano, now Mexico’s water man on the same Commission.

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