File No. 812.011/48a
The Secretary of State to Ambassador Fletcher
Washington, June 6, 1917—5 p.m.
You are instructed to bring the following to the immediate attention of General Carranza:
This Government is reluctant to believe that it is the intention of the Mexican Government to depart from the assurances given by the Minister for Foreign Affairs who stated to the American Ambassador at an interview on February 20 last, in substance, that the effect of the new Constitution would be in no way prejudicial to existing property rights, calling attention at the same time to an article of the new Constitution which provides that no laws may be made retroactive and again at an interview on February 26, that it was not the intention of the Mexican Government to confiscate American property. Inconsequence of these assurances, and in view of the international responsibilities assumed by the Mexican Government toward other Governments in seeking their recognition on the basis of equality of rights, the Government of the United States has noted with grave concern evidences of an intention on the part of the Mexican Government to give certain provisions of the Constitution adopted by the Constituent Assembly in January last, retroactive application to the rights of foreign owners of property in Mexico, to the extent of destroying or impairing those rights. This amounts to confiscation, and to this the Government of the United States cannot consent because, as the Mexican Government has already been informed by the Government of the United States, it cannot acquiesce in the direct or indirect confiscation of American owned properties or discrimination against American citizens with reference to their legally acquired rights and interests in Mexico.[Page 1068]
In this connection attention is directed to the petroleum export tax decree of April 13 and supplemental regulations which appear to contemplate the confiscation of American rights by retroactive legislation, impairing contractual obligations and, inasmuch as action thereunder is required prior to the 10th instant, they call for immediate consideration.
The Government of the United States invites an expression of the views of the Mexican Government on the principles underlying this subject involving national interests of grave importance which cannot be adequately represented by the private property owners concerned but require direct discussion between the two Governments. Pending the consideration of this matter, the Government of the United States earnestly desires that the enforcement against American interests of any confiscatory or discriminatory enactments be suspended.