File No. 312.52/180.

The Secretary of State to Vice Consul Simpich.114

No. 386.]

Sir: The Department acknowledges the receipt of your despatch No.

289, of February 19, 1914, with regard to the protection of the Desengaño mine at Guanacevi, Durango, which is the property, mainly, of Spanish subjects. You state that Carranza’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs has replied to you that he

must state that representations and claims of these foreigners should be made to General Carranza through the Secretary of Relations, by the diplomatic representatives of the countries to which they belong.

The Department has read this reply with equal regret and concern, and its sense of apprehension would be greatly intensified if it were convinced that the reply was made in full contemplation of the grave situation which it would’, in its practical application, necessarily create. The Department, however, cannot help believing that the circumstances were not fully considered, and that General Carranza will not, upon further reflection, desire either to increase the difficulties and embarrassments with which, in the disturbed conditions existing in Mexico, foreign Governments and their citizens have been obliged to contend, or to force upon such Governments the consideration of new and serious complications.

The foreign powers have and can have in the Mexican Republic only one set of diplomatic representatives, and those representatives are, as General Carranza is aware, at the City of Mexico, which is the capital of the Republic. That city is in the possession of the administration presided over by General Huerta, which exercises actual control, north and south, over a number of the States of the Republic. In these circumstances it is no more possible for the diplomatic representatives at the City of Mexico to address representations to General Carranza, then it would be for them, if the case were reversed, to address representations to General Huerta.

In these circumstances the consular representatives of foreign Governments, including those of the United States, have, in conformity [Page 795] with the usages and necessities incident to such a situation, made unofficial representations to the local authorities in the territory controlled by General Carranza and the forces that acknowledge him as their leader. At various points, however, within that territory, countries other than the United States are not represented by consular officers, and unless representations can be made in behalf of their citizens through the American consuls, such representations can not be made at all.

The representations thus made through the American consular officers in behalf of other foreigners are strictly in accordance with international law and usage. It is a common thing for the consular representatives of one country to act in an unofficial capacity for the citizens or subjects of other countries. This is a matter of constant, indeed almost daily, occurrence, in peace as well as in war. To prohibit the exercise of such friendly offices would in any circumstances be a deplorable act; but, in the midst of conditions such as exist today in Mexico, it assumes an aspect peculiarly grave and could not fail to give rise to a feeling of anxiety. The Government of the United States has up to the present time exerted all its influence to prevent the adoption of coercive measures on the part of foreign powers for the redress of grievances in Mexico, and in so doing has lent to its influence the weight of its own example; but it is compelled to feel the utmost solicitude as to the situation which would be likely to arise, if it should be announced as the final determination of General Carranza that, within the territory which he controls, requests for the protection of foreigners and their interests may be made only on conditions that manifestly preclude such requests altogether.

It is needless to say that these representations are made in the same friendly spirit that has heretofore inspired the course of this Government, and the Department does not permit itself to doubt that General Carranza, with that intelligence and high sense of justice which are understood to characterize him, will see to it that the consuls of the United States are permitted in the future, as they have been in the past, to use their good offices in behalf of other foreigners in the territory under his control.

I am [etc.]

W. J. Bryan
  1. This instruction was communicated to the American Embassies at London and Mexico City, to the American Consuls at Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua and to Special Agent Carothers.

    The reply of General Carranza to the representations made in pursuance of this instruction is printed under Protection of British Subjects, pp. 850860 of this volume, in Vice Consul Simpich’s telegram of Mar. 11, 1914. The papers relating to this controversy, in their chronological order, are: Bryan’s Oct. 19, 1913 (protection of British subjects)’; Bryan’s Feb. 6, 1914 (protection of Spanish subjects); Simpich’s No. 289, Feb. 19, 1914 (protection of Spanish subjects); Bryan’s Feb. 24, 1914, to Simpich (protection of British subjects); Simpich’s Feb. 26 (protection of British subjects); Bryan’s Feb. 27 to Simpich (protection of British subjects); Simpich’s Feb. 28 (protection of British subjects); Bryan’s No. 386, Mar. 2, to Simpich (protection of Spanish subjects); Simpich’s Mar. 11 (protection of British subjects); Bryan’s Mar. 14 (protection of British subjects); Spring Rice’s Mar. 16 (protection of British subjects); Bryan’s Mar. 18 to Spring Rice (protection of British subjects); Bryan’s Apr. 6 (protection of Spanish subjects); Carothers’s Apr. 9, 7 p.m.; Apr. 11, 7 p.m.; Apr. 12; Apr. 14 (protection of Spanish subjects); Bryan’s Apr. 14 (protection of German subjects); Letcher’s Apr. 15 (protection of German subjects); Letcher’s Apr. 15 (protection of Spanish subjects); Lansing’s Apr. 17 (protection of Spanish subjects); Lansing’s Apr, 17 (protection of German subjects); Bryan’s (2d) June 8 to Carothers and Miller (protection of Spanish subjects); Miller’s June 10 (protection of Spanish subjects); Bryan’s June 18 to Hanna (protection of German subjects); Bryan’s June 24 (protection of British subjects); Carothers’s June 28 (protection of Spanish subjects); Bryan’s July 8 (protection of Spanish subjects); Hanna’s Aug. 5 (protection of Spanish subjects); Riano’s Nov. 20 (protection of Spanish subjects); Bryan’s Dec. 2 (protection of French citizens); Bryan’s Dec. 5; Dec. 10 to Canada (protection of Spanish subjects); Canada’s Dec. 18 (protection of Spanish subjects).