File No. 812.512/723.
Mr. D. J. Haff to the Secretary of State.
My dear Sir: My client, The Cananea Consolidated Copper Company, has referred to me two circular notices received from Lie. Luis Cabrera, Minister of Finance of the Constitutionalist Government presided over by General Venustiano Carranza, with request for advice as to the attention to be paid to these circulars.
The whole object of the circulars, which I inclose herewith, is to lay the foundation for claims of the so-called Constitutionalist Government—in the case of its success in overthrowing the Villista, Zapatista and other revolutionary factions, also in control of territory in various parts of the Mexican Republic—that all taxes that have been paid to any de facto government in any state or district, under compulsion or otherwise, have been thrown away as pure contributions and will have to be paid again to the Constitutionalist Government. This, of course, is in absolute conflict with the principles of international law, or rather with the law as recognized and enforced by all nations in relation to dealings with de facto governments, and it is, of course, in violation of the rule established by our own Government and repeatedly asserted by the Department of State that its citizens will be protected in their dealings with de facto governments in Mexico and that payments of taxes demanded by such governments will be considered payment and satisfaction in defense of subsequent demands for payment of the same taxes. I quote from a letter, signed by the Hon. Robert Lansing, when Counsellor of the Department of State under date of May 18 last, addressed to The Sierra Consolidated Mining Company of Duluth, Minnesota, of which I am also counsel, as follows:
Under the generally accepted principles of international law, American citizens owning property in Mexico are entitled to pay taxes thereon to persons in de facto authority. It would appear, therefore, that having paid taxes upon your property located in the State of Chihuahua to the authorities exercising control in that State, you should be relieved of further payment of such taxes.
I am inclosing the referred circular in order that you may be advised of the evident deliberate intention of the Constitutionalist Government to exact payment over again of all taxes that have been paid during the past three years or more to de facto governments exercising control of territory in Mexico, other than the Carranza government. If this is enforced, it will be a great hardship and in many cases will result in confiscation of properties on account of the utter inability of Americans to pay again taxes which have already been so increased by all of the revolutionary factions in Mexico that they have become a burden, almost, if not quite, impossible to be borne. * * *[Page 976]
I sincerely hope that the Government of the United States will use its influence effectively to prevent this injustice and will take opportune steps to avoid it before it has ripened into execution.
I have [etc.]