Violations of neutrality: prohibition of shipment of arms and munitions of war into Mexico from the United States, and exceptions thereto
Note. On March 14, 1912, the President proclaimed a joint resolution of Congress of that date1 providing:
That whenever the President shall find that in any American country conditions of domestic violence exist which are promoted by the use of arms or munitions of war2 procured from the United States, and shall make proclamation thereof, it shall be unlawful to export, except under such limitations and exceptions as the President shall prescribe, any arms or munitions of war from any place in the United States to such country until otherwise ordered by the President or by Congress.
The proclamation declared that:
I have found that there exist in Mexico such conditions of domestic violence promoted by the use of arms or munitions of war procured from the United States as contemplated by the said Joint Resolution; and I do hereby admonish all citizens of the United States and every person to abstain from every violation of the Joint Resolution above set forth, hereby made applicable to Mexico, and I do hereby warn them that all violations of such provisions will be rigorously prosecuted. And I do hereby enjoin upon all officers of the United States, charged with the execution of the laws thereof, the utmost diligence in preventing violations of said Joint Resolution and this my Proclamation issued thereunder, and in bringing to trial and punishment any offenders against the same.
In regard to the shipment of arms into Mexico from the United States for the protection of American citizens, the Mexican Foreign Office in objecting to shipments to consular offices of the United States stated3 on December 12, 1912, to the American Ambassador as follows:
This Government has followed the invariable rule of not allowing foreigners residing in Mexico to be armed by their Governments; therefore I beg that when you think it proper to ask that any American citizen domiciled in this Republic should procure arms, you will make your request as if it concerned a transaction between individuals, so that the Mexican Government may have the satisfaction of granting it in all cases where it is possible.
The Secretary of State in response instructed the Ambassador4 to say:
that although the arms and ammunition are for convenience consigned to the consuls, they are intended for the protection of individual American citizens.
Another point discussed in 1912 was the distinction between the shipments of arms forbidden by the above-mentioned Proclamation and the mere commercial sale of arms. The Department of State announced the attitude of this Government in the following statement5 to the Mexican Embassy:
It is the well-known practice of merchants of neutral countries to furnish munitions of war to one or both of contending belligerents.[Page 868]
The situation is somewhat different, however, with reference to the so-called neutrality statutes which have been enacted by this Government, which, going beyond the provisions of international law, do make illegal certain acts specified in the statutes even when no state of belligerency exists, such acts being directed against the established government of a country with which this Government is at peace. But the duties of neutrality under the law of nations cannot be either expanded or contracted by national legislation. * * * Our own statutes bind only our own Government and citizens and those within our jurisdiction. If they impose on us a larger duty than is imposed on us by international law, they do not correspondingly enlarge our duties to foreign nations. Since therefore these statutes only qualify as offenses certain specified transactions which would not otherwise have that character * * * it is evidently necessary that the act complained of should clearly fall within the statutes in order that it should be regarded as illegal.
These so-called neutrality statutes do not, any more than the general laws of neutrality, prohibit the mere commercial exportation of arms and ammunition, and, that being true, the Executive is, under them, powerless, however much it might in any given case wish to do otherwise, legally to prevent this traffic so long as it remains purely commercial and is unconnected with any other act prohibited by the statutes.
It will therefore be quite clear that under the principles of international law as well as under the so-called neutrality statutes of this country, the mere commercial sale of supplies in El Paso to Mexicans, whether insurrectos or supporters of the Government, and their simple delivery across the border, cannot be looked upon as a violation of international law or of the so-called neutrality statutes.
The Mexican Embassy responded ( For. Rel. 1912, p. 743) that the failure of the neutrality statutes to cover many important points was not good ground for failure of this Government to take any steps calculated to prevent acts that come within the field of international duty, and consequently the Mexican Government hoped this Government would take measures to prevent exportation of arms and ammunition into Mexico.
The majority of the complaints made by Mexico in relation to such shipments, however, characterized the shipments as violative of the neutrality laws of the U. S. This attitude prevails in the correspondence during 1913.
As this correspondence is largely a series of notifications of reported shipments of this kind, which the Department of State disposed of by reference to the competent authorities, without controversy, this portion of it is reduced to the following list. The correspondence is printed in full in cases where it contains remarks not of a routine nature.
|File No.||Serial No.||Character.||Date.||From–||To—||Purport.|
|812.00/6666||278||Memo.||1913. Mar. 12||Mexican Embassy.||Dept. of State.||Recruiting and shipment of arms from San Antonio, Tex., for rebel Carrancistas; requests good offices to prevent these violations of U. S. neutrality laws.|
|6666||Memo.||Mar. 17||Dept. of State.||Mexican Embassy.||No corroborative information received; referred to the appropriate authorities.|
|6667||280||Note.||Mar. 12||Mexican Embassy (De la Cueva).||Dept. of State.||J. M. Maytorena and confederates on Sonora border and Maderistas in the U. S. are violating the neutrality laws of U. S.; requests prevention thereof.|
|[Page 869]6667||244||Note.||Mar. 17||Dept. of State (Wilson).||Mexican Embassy (De la Cueva).||Does not doubt that all necessary measures are being taken but has referred the note to the appropriate authorities.|
|6702||282||3d pers.||Mar., 13||Mexican Embassy.||Dept. of State||Recruiting under Gord within U.S. by Maderistas for service at Nogales, Sonora; communicated for. Dept.’s information.|
|6702||3d pers.||Mar. 19||Dept. of State.||Mexican Embassy.||Communicated to the Attorney General for appropriate action.|
|6703||283||Note.||Mar. 13||Mexican Embassy (De la Cueva).||Dept. of State||Scandalous meetings have been held at San Antonio, Tex., and preparations to recruit men and send arms to Mexico, in violation of U. S. neutrality laws; requests appropriate action.|
|6703||Note.||Mar. 21||Dept. of State (Adee).||Mexican Embassy (De la Cueva).||Contents of his note referred to the Attorney General for appropriate consideration.|
|6991||306||Memo.||Apr. 1||Mexican Embassy.||Dept. of State||Ernesto Fernandez and; one Gonzalez Salas are connected with a scheme to ship arms to Mexico from Mississippi clandestinely; requests good offices to avoid this violation of the U. S. neutrality laws.|
|6994||Memo.||Apr. 5||Dept. of State.||Mexican Embassy.||The matter has been referred to the Dept. of Justice.|
|7007||309||Memo.||Apr. 3||Mexican Embassy.||Dept. of State||Requests utmost of display of military activity along the boundary to prevent rebels from joining in attack on Laredo, Tamaulipas, in violation of U. S. neutrality laws|
|7190||Memo.||Apr. 23||Dept. of State.||Mexican Embassy.||The Embassy’s request has been communicated by the War Dept. to the commdg. general at Fort Sam Houston.|
|7056||Letter.||Apr. 3||Gov. of Texas.||Dept. of State||Transmits copy of letter from J. A. Fernandez alleging violation of U. S. neutrality laws, and of his reply thereto.|
|7033||3d pers.||Apr. 7||Sec. of State.||Att’y General||Incloses for appropriate action telegram from G. E. Miriles protesting against his threatened arrest. As editor of El Demdórata he is fighting the spurious government of Huerta but without violating; laws of. the U.S. Also incloses letter from T. R. Beltran protesting against presence of Huerta’s spies at international bridge at Eagle Pass, in violation of neutrality laws. Also incloses telegram from Consul Ellsworth stating that Miriles is secretary to chief of revolutionists, and Beltran is his agent and instigator of scheme to hold mdse of Americans for ransom.|
|7074||423||Note.||Apr. 9||Mexican Embassy (De la Cueva).||Dept. of State||Requests that T. R. Beltran. R E. Muzquiz, R. Madero et al be prevented from entering the U. S. at Eag’e Pass to carry on rebellious activities there in violation of the neutrality laws of the U. S.|
|7074||Note.||Apr. 15||Dept. of state. (Bryan).||Mexican Embassy.||Communicated to the Dept. of Justice for appropriate action.|
|[Page 870]7105||425||Note.||Apr. 11||Mexican Embassy (De la Cueva).||Dept. of State.||Requests that Messrs Enciso, Maderistas at Naco, et al in Sonora, be prevented from entering the U. S., securing arms, carrying messages, etc. in behalf of revolutionary chiefs.|
|7105||268||Note.||Apr. 16||Dept. of State (Adee).||Mexican Embassy.||Communicated to the Sec. of War and the Atty. General for appropriate action.|
|7106||427||Note||Apr. 11||Mexican Embassy (De la Cueva).||Dept. of State.||A revolutionary junta will soon meet at El Paso, Tex., to be attended by Messrs. Pesqueira, Navarro, Mercado, Zamacona, Hernandez et al, for revolutionary purposes. Requests the arrest of these; assistance will be given by Mexican consul at El Paso if desired.|
|7106||270||Note.||Apr. 16||Dept. of State (Bryan).||Mexican Embassy.||Communicated to the Sec. of War and the Atty. General for appropriate action.|
|7160||432||Note||Apr. 15||Mexican Embassy (De la Cueva).||Dept. of State||Máximo Avalos of Golconda, Ariz., is engaged in recruiting in the U. S. to join the rebels in Sonora, as appears in the inclosure. Requests action thereon.|
|7160||Note.||Apr. 21||Dept. of State (Bryan).||Mexican Embassy.||Referred to the Atty. General.|
|7501||300||Note||May 19||Dept. of State (Moore).||Mexican Embassy.||Copies of Avalos’ letter have been sent to the commanders of forces on the border for their information.|
|7338||452||Note.||Apr. 30||Mexican Embassy (De la Cueva).||Dept. of State.||Eduardo Hay has ordered arms of one Saldana of Douglas, Ariz.; requests that they be prevented from entering Mexico.|
|7338||285||Note||May 6||Dept. of State (Moore).||Mexican Embassy.||Referred to the Sec. of War and the Atty. General for appropriate action.|
|7444||291||Note||May 13||Dept. of State (Moore).||Mexican Embassy.||Appropriate agents of the Dept. of Justice were informed of the matter with instructions to take action.|
|7423||459||Note verbale.||May 7||Mexican Embassy.||Dept. of State.||Requests prevention of exportation to Mexico of an aeroplane now at Tucson, Ariz., intended for rebels in Sonora.|
|7446||460||Note||May 8||Mexican Embassy (De Terrerros).||Dept. of State.||Refers to his note verbale of May 7; has since learned that the aeroplane has been confiscated by the Tucson authorities. Requests arrest and punishment of those who had planned to export it.|
|7423||3d pers.||May 10||Dept. of State.||Mexican Embassy.||Communicated to the Secretaries of War and the Treasury and to the Atty. General for appropriate action.|
|7493||298||Note.3.||May 17||Dept. of State (Moore).||Mexican Embassy.||The Collector of Customs at Nogales instructed May 13 to prevent exportation of aeroplane.|
|7511||301||Note||May 20||Dept. of State (Moore).||Mexican Embassy.||A copy of the foregoing sent to the Atty. General. Replying to its request for arrest of those concerned, the Atty. General states, May 14, that warrants have been issued therefor; shipment of aeroplane has been stoped.|
|7500||306||Note||May 24||Dept. of State (Moore).||Mexican Embassy.||Aeroplane, en route to Mexico, was seized 30 miles south of Tucson, where it is being held.|
|[Page 871]7639||Tel||May 29||Gov. of Arizona.||Dept. of State||Provisional Governor Pesqueira of Sonora notifies of arrest of certain officers presumably implicated in the aeroplane shipment. Requests to know what disposition of them is desired.|
|7639||Tel||June 12.||Dept. of State.||Gov. of Arizona.||No action necessary.|
|7523||465||Note.||May 16||Mexican Embassy (De Terrerros).||Dept. of State||The str. Honduras sailed to-day from New York carrying munitions of war worth $200,000 apparently consigned to 4 hardware stores on the Texas frontier for the use of enemies of the Mexican Government; it will unload at Velasco near Corpus Christie Requests detention of this contraband of war.|
|7523||302||Note||May 19||Dept. of State (Moore).||Mexican Embassy||Communicated to the competent authorities.|
|7584||309||Note||May 27||Dept. of State (Moore).||Mexican Embassy.||The Sec. of the Treasury on May 22 instructed the collector of customs at Galveston to take all necessary precautions as to the Honduras.|
|7592||469||Note.||May 23||Mexican Embassy (De Terrerros).||Dept of State.||Requests that certain specified munitions of war be not sold but delivered to the Mexican consul at Roma, Tex. They were seized in March when an attempt was made to bring them into the U.S.|
|7592||Note||May 23||Dept of State.||Mexican Embassy.||Communicated to the Sec. of the Treasury with recommendation that the request be complied with. The question of permitting these articles to be exported from the U. S. into Mexico will be carefully considered on receipt of a formal request setting forth names and addresses of consignor and consignee.|
|8132||15||Note||July 22||Mexican Embassy (De Terrerros).||Dept of State.||Formal request as above stipulated.|
|7674||478||Note||May 31||Mexican Embassy (De Terrerros).||Dept of State .||240 cases of dynamite have been sent from Nogales, Ariz., to Mexico and delivered to the rebels. Requests investigation and measures to prevent future clandestine shipments of munitions of war, in conformity with the President’s proclamation of Mar. 14, 1912.|
|7754||315||Note||June 17||Dept of State (Moore).||Mexican Embassy.||Communicated to the Sec. of the Treasury and the Atty General for appropriate action; the former, on June 8, issued instructions for prompt investigation.|
|7898||332||Note||July 2||Dept of State (Moore).||Mexican Embassy.||Transmits report that investigation showed the dynamite had already passed into Mexico and had been delivered to the rebels.|
|7896||Tel||June 25||Gen. Carranza||The President.||Four guns consigned to Huerta forces at Laredo, Mex., are in the express office at Laredo, Tex.; 75 cases ammunition have already come across for said forces. Requests appropriate action.|
|7901||Tel||June 26||Gen Carranza.||The President.||Two of above-mentioned guns have passed into Mexico. As Constitutionalist Chief he calls to the fact.|
|[Page 872]7940||306||Tel||July 1||Ambassador Wilson.||Dept of State.||Reports smuggling into Mexico of 14,000 rifles with ammunition in violation of the neutrality laws. Mexican agents report sheriffs and other officials in U. S. in collusion.|
|9216||Memo.||Sept 23||Mexican Embassy.||Dept of State.||The Copper Queen mine of Bisbee, Ariz., has 500,000 cartridges and 4000 rifles which it is intended to pass as contraband to the rebels in Sonora; the garrison at Bisbee is ineffective for preventing the same, although Col. McComb had knowledge of the situation.|
|9216||Memo.||Oct 8||Dept of State.||Mexican Embassy.||Communicated to the appropriate authorities for investigation.|
Washington, March 24, 1913.
File No. 812.113/2070A.
Washington, March 25, 1913.
File No. 812.113/2088.
 The Secretary of State to the American Consular Officers at Nogales, Ciudad Juarez, Ciudad Porfirio Díaz, Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros, Tampico, and Vera Cruz.
Washington, April 2, 1913.
File No. 812.113/2268A.
Austin, April 7, 1913.
File No. 812.00/7100.
Washington, April 8, 1913.
File No. 812.113/2135.
File No. 812.113/2190.
Washington, April 30, 1913.
File No. 812.113/2135.
Washington, May 13, 1913.
File No. 812.00/7443.
Austin, May 19, 1913.
File No. 812:00/7578.
Austin, May 19, 1913.
File No. 812.00/7577.
 The Confidential Agent of the Constitutionalist Government of Mexico to the Secretary of State.
File No. 812.00/7897.
Washington , November 26, 1913.
File No. 812.00/10023.
Washington , December 3, 1913.
File No. 812.00/10317.
Washington , December 15, 1913.
File No. 812.00/10265.
Washington, December 19, 1913.
File No. 812.00/10316.
Washington, December 20, 1913.
File No. 812.00/10317.