File No. 812.00/14477.
Mexico City , March 2, 1915 .
380. I have been earnestly requested by the International Committee of Relief to transmit to you the following telegram which was impossible for them to send in clear on account of Vera Cruz censorship.
An International Committee consisting of forty members and representing seventeen foreign colonies resident in the City of Mexico held a meeting tonight and passed a resolution to the effect that the following be sent to you:
For three days every business house in Mexico City both large and small has closed its doors and the entire commercial traffic of a metropolis of over half a million inhabitants has been completely paralyzed. This has been due to the request of the military authorities here that a special tax levy of twenty million pesos be paid for the ostensible purpose of relieving the poor whose situation has become really desperate due to the shortage of foodstuffs.
We think in all fairness not only to the various colonies represented but to the business men of Mexican nationality that the fact that this shortage of foodstuffs is due to the deliberate campaign of military leaders desirous of starving the working classes into enlisting should be given as wide publicity as possible. This committee composed of the leading business and professional men of the capital has amassed indisputable evidence pointing to a definite order forbidding the importation of cereals and other foodstuffs for the reason above stated. Furthermore all food possible to secure has been shipped out of the city in furtherance of the scheme. This evidence will be placed at the disposal of the various members of the Diplomatic Corps here.
At all times the foreign and native business interests have been willing and anxious to subscribe to a fund for the relief of the poor but when a representative of this committee approached General Obregon last night relative to the disposition [omission] already collected for this purpose he was met with the following answer:
“The Mexican people do not need gratuitous help from foreigners. The sons of Mexico will work actively to mitigate the pains from which they suffer but they will do that work themselves.”
On the following day General Obregon made the following statement:
“At the first attempt at riot I will leave the city at the head of my troops in order that they may not fire a single shot against the hungry multitude, as the merchants did not accept the invitation which was made to them to assist the people and prevent violence.”
This we consider as an open invitation on the part of the authorities for the mob to loot our places of business which we are prepared to defend as best we may should the occasion arise. Three thousand employees local street railways left their cars today, held mass meeting, decided join Carranza. After meeting paraded streets joined by rabble. All places of business, hotels, cafes, banks, theaters closed. Men authorized remove trolleys take same Vera Cruz. General exodus expected begin tomorrow. Street car system has over two hundred miles track, two hundred and fifty cars, carries million passengers monthly, is Canadian corporation, head offices Toronto but been operated by Government for some time. Condition city desperate, without water, insufficient food and no police protection. Obregon said again this morning:
“I will not fire single shot into any mob who may attempt get what hunger has driven them to seize. Rather than fire upon my people I will evacuate city leaving selfish merchants who refused contribute their relief manage their own defense.”
Tonight business men been summoned meet local theater where Obregon will make address. These same men refused pay extraordinary tax recently levied. Nearly two hundred empty box-cars stand ready to take away Carranza sympathizers when evacuation becomes fact. Up this time no looting though fear generally expressed mobs may attempt destroy property. For past four days foreigners everywhere generously contributed relief funds but Obregon refused receive these contributions. Likewise Catholic clergy offered donations cash which refused. Priests still imprisoned in Palace and Obregon says will carry them away when city evacuated placing available ones in army. Mobs bearing red flags are now parading streets.
Chairman International Committee, and sixteen others including representatives colonies France, Germany, Great Britain, Russia, Italy, etc.
B. W. Wilson.