File No. 812.5034/40

Ambassador Fletcher to the Secretary of State

No. 99

Sir. I have the honor to enclose a copy and a translation of a decree issued April 24, 1917 by the Secretary of Fomento, outlining the procedure to be followed by foreigners who are endeavoring to secure property in Mexico and who have not renounced certain of their rights as foreigners in so far as such property is concerned, as prescribed in the decrees of August 15, 1916 and December 15, 1916.

This decree has not yet appeared in the Diario Oficial and the copy submitted has been taken from a local newspaper.

I have [etc.]

Henry P. Fletcher


In view of the very important consideration that, if our fundamental laws concede to foreigners the same rights as to nationals, in no way should it be possible for foreigners by the exercise of such rights to obtain greater advantages than nationals, it was determined by a decree of August 15 last that the following regulations should be observed:

First: Foreigners who may endeavor to acquire in the Mexican Republic free or national lands, mining properties, waters under the federal jurisdiction, or [Page 1061]permits for the exploitation or exploration of natural resources such as products of the forests, petroleum, fisheries, et cetera, should in writing before the Ministry of Foreign Relations, make formal, express and definite declaration that in their capacity as owners or concessionaires and in so far as concerns the properties which they are endeavoring to acquire, they will be considered as Mexicans, renouncing their rights as foreigners and the right to complain or seek the protection of their respective Governments.

Foreign corporations are incapacitated from acquiring rights over any of the effects mentioned in this circular until they have become naturalized and submit themselves to the Mexican laws by making the above-mentioned declaration.

Second: An indispensable requisite to the acceptance by the Ministry of Fomento, Colonization and Industry of any denouncement or petition which a foreigner may make with regard to the matters above referred to, even though it be a simple question of an exploration permit, is the presentation with the first petition of a certificate issued by the Ministry of Foreign Relations in which shall appear the declaration above referred to.

If this requisite is lacking, the petition must be flatly rejected, and any action taken or any procedure or decision arrived at shall be null and without legal value before this certificate is presented.

The prescribed certificate must be inserted literally in the titles to property, as well as in the above-mentioned permits concerning property, issued by the Ministry of Fomento to foreigners, and also in the contracts or public documents relative thereto authenticated by notaries public; and its content must, moreover, be inserted as a special clause.

Failure to insert this certificate or the said clause will be sufficient reason for the nullification of the respective title, permit, contract or document.

Third: In all cases already initiated by foreigners which may be under consideration by the Ministry of Fomento or its administrative offices, relative to any of the effects above mentioned, proceedings shall be suspended immediately and shall not be renewed until the interested parties present the certificate referred to. If within a period of four months from the date of this decree the interested party does not present this certificate, his petition shall be considered null and void and shall be filed without recourse.

In view of the equally important consideration that many foreigners might not have been able to present these certificates opportunely, it was determined in a later decree of December 15 last, that the period of four months prescribed in the third section for the presentation of these certificates should be extended for an additional four months, which would expire on April 15, 1917. The aforesaid extension of four months having expired, and sufficient reason not existing for conceding to foreigners a further general extension, and the day being near when the strict dispositions of Article 27 of the Constitution reformed in Querétaro with regard to these matters will take effect, it should be decreed, and it is decreed:

The period of four months allowed by the decree of December 15 last, which extended the period, also of four months, fixed by the decree of August 15 last, expired on the 15th instant.
All the cases already under consideration which have been suspended by virtue of the dispositions of the third section of the decree of August 15 awaiting the certificate referred to therein, will continue suspended until the organic or reglamentary laws based on Article 27 of the Constitution have been passed, which laws shall determine the action to be taken.
Whenever, after the promulgation of this present decree and before the passing of the organic or reglamentary laws referred to in the preceding section, the interested parties may present the certificate provided for in the third section of the decree of August 15, the First Chief of the Constitutionalist Army or the Chief of the Federal Executive shall determine whether or not the certificate referred to shall be received, and in case the decision is negative this decision is sufficient definitely to close the case, which shall be filed as soon as the respective decision takes effect.
Bring this decree to the knowledge of interested parties and cause it to be published in the Diario Oficial.

Constitution and Reforms

Pastor Rouaix,
Minister of Fomento