File No. 812.63/99.
Vice Consul Coen to the Secretary of State.
Durango, May 15, 1915.
Sir: I have the honor to report upon the recent decrees affecting mines and mining property promulgated within the past two months by the Chihuahua seat of government, copies of which are enclosed with this despatch. * * *
No information to date has been received at this office of any modification of the decree of March 19, 1915, as a result of the protests of [Page 912]the American Government and the English Government against the confiscatory nature of the decree, except the explanation credited to Manuel Bonilla and made by authority of the Secretary of Fomento, Licenciado Francisco Escudero, which appeared in the El Paso Morning Times of April 15, 1915, copy of which is hereto attached. * * *
The payment of taxes in Mexican gold and the payment of wages of employees in Mexican silver or gold (enclosures No. 2 and No. 3) are manifestly impossible, for such money is not of circulation and cannot be bought in sufficient quantities in the country. * * *
One possible motive for the decrees may have been that it was hoped that foreign interests could be forced to bring in outside capital and spend it within the country in order to save their property from confiscation, thus materially aiding the de facto government, which is moving heaven and earth to obtain gold with which to buy war supplies from the United States. This theory was tenable until the promulgation of the last decree requiring all mines to pay wages in silver or gold, or its equivalent in paper money of forced circulation. When this last decree of May 4, 1915, (enclosure No. 4) was issued, the motive for the entire series at once became evident, and the conviction clearly confirmed, that the intention and motive was confiscation by seeming legal requirements but which in reality are absolutely physically impossible to comply with.
The great amount of American capital honestly and in good faith invested in the mining industry in this consular district makes this subject of immense importance to American citizens.
I have [etc.]
- See the text of the decree here discussed, post, inclosure with Inde Gold Mining Company’s letter of May 20.↩