The Secretary of State to the Counsel of the Association of Foreigners Owning Land in Sonora, Mexico ( Malcolm C. Little )

Sir: I am in receipt of your letter of September 23, 1919,12 stating that on December 23, 1915, General Calles, the Military Commander and Governor of the State of Sonora, Mexico, issued Decree No. 17, pursuant to which the lands in the state were appraised for purposes of taxation at excessively high valuations and a variable tax rate dependent upon the area of land held by each individual or corporation was established. You state that on July 7, 1919, the Richardson Construction Company instituted in the Federal District Court of Nogales, Sonora, a suit in amparo against the application of this decree with respect to its properties, and that on September 8, 1919, the court entered a decision holding that taxes can be imposed only by laws; that the said Decree (No. 17) can not be considered as a law because the Constitution of the state in force at the time of its issuance, as well as the present Constitution reserves to the local congress authority to issue laws, and that only in exceptional cases can the Executive when vested with extraordinary powers by vote of two-thirds of the deputies present exercise such authority.

[Page 632]

You say that an appeal has been taken from this decision to the Supreme Court at Mexico City, and that if representations could be made resulting in this decision being sustained a great injustice to about three hundred foreign property owners would thus be averted.

The Secretary of State is glad to learn of the decision of the Federal District Court in favor of the Richardson Construction Company. However, with reference to the suggestion in the last paragraph of your letter, I beg to say that the Secretary of State does not consider that he would be justified in directing the making of representations to the Mexican Government concerning the decision of the Supreme Court on the appeal of the case.

I am [etc.]

For the Secretary of State:
Henry P. Fletcher
  1. Not printed.↩