File No. 812.512/1115a

The Secretary of State to Special Agent Silliman

Sir: You are instructed to bring the following statement personally to the attention of General Carranza, handing him a copy thereof:

The Government of the United States is cognizant and mindful of all that is transpiring in Mexico, particularly is this so in relation to events pertaining to the revolution, and it has taken into deep and friendly consideration the incontrollable bounds which the excesses of the fratricidal strife, at times, assumed, to the consequent cost of American lives, property, and rights. This Government has consistently [Page 711] shown its friendly interest for the Mexican people in numerous and manifest ways, and it has no desire or thought of altering its well-known attitude of good will. In the capacity of a friend it wishes to continue to lend such assistance as it appropriately can, to enable the Mexican people to attain the greatest measure of liberty, peace and happiness.

During the earlier period of the revolution, because of there being no recognized government, and because of the existence of different factions, many untoward incidents occurred in Mexico, affecting the rights of Americans and other foreigners, even going to the extreme of a deplorable sacrifice of human life, and giving the deepest concern to this Government; all the more so because of its earnest and kindly inclinations toward the Mexican nation.

Since the recognition of the de facto Government, on October 19, 1915, this Government has extended its friendship in an even more tangible manner, and, in numerous ways has assisted, cooperated with, and supported the de facto Government, realizing full well that the work of pacification is no light task, and that, in the pursuance of that object, the de facto Government would have, at times, to face bewildering circumstances and to solve difficult problems.

Moved by its sincere desire to be helpful, and in accordance with the spirit which this desire excites, this Government invites the attention of the de facto Government to the unfortunate, and, it may be said, disastrous effect of a number of decrees recently promulgated by the de facto Government. These decrees were probably issued with the best of intentions. It appears, however, that in taking into account the underlying causes which probably prompted their issuance, a studious consideration of their probable effect was, unfortunately, not given before official pronouncement. In many cases decrees, designed to be remedial to the exchequer of the de facto Government, have had, and will continue to have, the contrary effect. The imposition of arbitrary and excessive taxes, practically confiscatory in their nature, tends to stifle industry and to stagnate business. On the other hand, if the cooperation of the industrial agencies which formerly operated in Mexico were invited, with assurances of protection while their plants were being rehabilitated, and in their subsequent operation; and if, at the same time, the de facto Government should announce that it wished them to assist it in the work of restoring peace and reviving prosperity, and that the old rates of taxation to which they were formerly accustomed would be applied, it is reasonably certain that such a blend of friendliness and economic wisdom would result in establishing wholesome confidence and would instill a new-born strength into the country. Millions of dollars would drift rapidly into Mexico, and, before it would be realized, the flood-tide of prosperity would have set in. Such a policy would logically have had an immediate effect on the paper money issued by the de facto Government, and would have been, and would still be, of wonderful aid to it in solving its perplexing problems, and of removing many of them forthwith.

Decrees like those of Governor Caballero, of Tamaulipas, of January 14, 1914, just now being put into effect; of the Governor of Chihuahua, of December 31, 1915; of Governor Aguilar, of [Page 712] Vera Cruz, of January 15, 1916; of Governor Triana, of Aguas-calientes, of January 21, 1916; of Governor Calles, of Sonora, of January 27, 1916; and the circular of the Secretary of Justice, of February 18, 1916, all of which affect property rights, with clauses, or phraseology, which make it plain that they are aimed at foreigners; the decree prohibiting the exportation of cotton, and that applying the same restriction to hides, can produce only ill effects. They are all in direct violation of the Constitution of Mexico and advertise to the world, all too plainly, facts which certainly should not be made so patent. Some of these decrees, it appears, were issued without the knowledge of General Carranza; but the fact that they remain in force, after his attention has been called to them, tends to show that they have his approval.

Four months have elapsed since this Government recognized the de facto Government, of which General Carranza is the Chief Executive. During that time a number of decrees have been issued, and the provisions of previous decrees insisted upon, which have seriously affected American property and rights, and if some of these decrees emanating from General Carranza continue to be enforced by him, they will assume proportions of very grave concern, for, aside from the nature of the decrees, the spirit shown throughout is not reciprocally in consonance with that shown by this Government. Owing to the importance of the case, this Government was constrained, on June 30, 1915, to take a stand relative to the increased taxes imposed by the mining decree of March 1, 1915. On December 28, 1915, this Government reiterated its stand of June 30. Since that time this Government was informed that upon the return of Senor Luis Cabrera it was expected that certain modifications would be made in this decree. Senor Cabrera returned to Querétaro the early part of the present month, and it was then stated that the excessive taxes imposed by this decree, in many cases confiscatory, should be paid on March 1, but that certain modifications would be considered for the taxes falling due on July 1, 1916. This Government regards the matter as one of such grave import that it most earnestly desires the de facto Government to give this subject full and conscientious reconsideration. In fact, it asks that the annulment of this decree, before March 1, be taken under serious advisement. It may here be stated that the operation of the decree of March 1, 1915, has already caused the threatened abandonment of certain mining properties; and when such measures begin to be adopted, it will be difficult to foresee how far they will go, or what effects they may produce.

This Administration feels assured that the broad circumspection of the de facto Government will make evident to it the fact that failure to adopt measures to win the confidence of the people at home and of foreign nations will have the effect of keeping the currency of the de facto Government at its present depreciated figure, or of still further depressing it. That condition of the currency, together with others so closely correlated that they cannot be regarded separately from it, makes the very delicate task before the de facto Government one which should be approached, in all of its phases, with the greatest caution as to means and considerateness as to consequences.

I am [etc.]

Robert Lansing