File No. 812.77/102.
The American Chargé d’Affaires to the Secretary of State.
Mexico, August 9, 1911.
Sir: I have the honor to report to the Department that representatives of the Order of Railway Conductors and of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, of the National Railways of Mexico, called [Page 911]at the Embassy on Saturday last and represented that a general strike of pronounced anti-American character by the Mexican employees of the National Railways is imminent and will probably occur about the middle of this month. Such a strike, they alleged, will seriously endanger their welfare and even their lives, and they requested to know what protection could be afforded them in the event the strike became a reality. I replied I had reason to believe that the Government could and would fully protect them and that if they would convince me that their lives were menaced I would do everything possible to have them promptly and adequately safeguarded.
In the course of the conversation the representatives asserted that the strike was in a way the outcome of a movement among the Mexican employees of the railroad which had been going on for some time and which has heretofore been manifested, as it still is, by constant and irritating discrimination against American employees on the part of subordinate and secondary officials whenever occasion offered. The source of this discrimination, aside from the animus which they claim to be in the minds of their Mexican fellow workers, they assert is in the executive committee of the board of directors, and asked me if I would give them a letter of introduction to the Secretary of Hacienda asking that they be given a hearing, so they could lay their grievances before him. As this seemed to be a reasonable request I gave them the letter they asked for, a copy of which I am enclosing.
Yesterday Mr. Jaime Gurza, the Sub-Secretary of Hacienda and a member of the executive committee of the board of directors above mentioned, told me that a movement for the complete Mexicanization of the National Railways has been on foot for over a year. He thought a general strike extremely unlikely, as it had been pointed out to the Mexican committees when they presented their case that exact justice would be accorded American as well as Mexican employees, and that if their agitation took on a political or anti-American character it would prejudice the Government against them and quite defeat their ends. He said that about a year ago the matter of the Mexicanization of the National Lines was gone into by Mr. Limantour, the former Secretary of Hacienda, and Mr. E. R. Brown, the President of the National Railways, and that it was then agreed that while American employees already in the service should not be discriminated against in any way, Mexicans, everything else being equal, would be given preference in regard to new vacancies in positions, but that efficiency would in all cases be the sole criterion. The railroad men who visited me also spoke of this arrangement and said that the point had been conceded by them.
This question, which indirectly affects the entire country, directly concerns over four hundred Americans, and several thousand—I believe about twelve—Mexican employees. Mr. Gurza told me the gross receipts of the lines were larger than the national revenues, and from these facts an idea may be gained of the importance of this question and the seriousness of a strike which would hamper the transportation facilities of the entire Republic.
I have [etc.]