Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Davis)

Memorandum of Interview with Mr. Fernando Iglesias Calderón at 12 o’clock, June 30, 1920.

Señor Iglesias first stated he could not speak English, but had an interpreter. I told him I should prefer not to have an interpreter, which seemed to relieve him. He then thanked me for granting him an interview, and said he quite clearly understood that I could only receive him as a private citizen. He informed me, however, that he had been designated as High Commissioner and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary by the present Mexican Government and that he desired to give to me unofficially information regarding the conditions in Mexico, the attitude, policies and desires of his Government, and to have a general exchange of views with the hope that an understanding might be reached for the elimination of all obstacles to a closer and more friendly cooperation between the two countries and the ultimate establishment of official relations between the two governments.

He further stated that all of the responsible parties in the existing government are not only desirous of living in peace and harmony with all the foreign countries, and most especially with the United States, but they are firmly convinced that as a matter of expediency such a policy is necessary for the ultimate salvation of Mexico itself; that it is and will be the fixed desire and policy of the existing government not only to make all reparation within its power for [Page 175] damages and injustices which have been committed in respect to the property and lives of foreigners and especially of American citizens, but also to maintain a government adequate for the protection of life, property and individual liberty.

He then stated that he recalled with pride and satisfaction the interview which President Wilson granted to him as a private citizen in 1914, in which he was most favorably impressed with the attitude of the President and his great patience and justice, as well as the desire of the United States to be considerate of the shortcomings of countries which may not be so powerful or have reached the same state in democratic development. He stated it would take Mexico some time to reach anything like the development that the United States had reached, but ultimately by education, et cetera, they hoped to approach it. He recalled with pride that President Wilson had known of his father as a historian.

Señor Iglesias expressed with considerable warmth his appreciation of my having consented to see him and to give him an opportunity to discuss direct with me the situation which so vitally affects his own country and also the United States. He said he had been led to believe that he might not be able to secure a direct audience. I then told him I had decided to depart from usual practices because I was glad to have an opportunity to state to him unofficially, that this government has watched with considerable interest all developments in Mexico; that many of the statements and acts of the present authorities in Mexico have, since obtaining control, given considerable hope of an improved change in the Mexican attitude and policy which if maintained must be for the great good of Mexico. I also told him we are desirous of encouraging such hopeful developments which come at a most opportune time when the unparalleled patience of the American people towards Mexico shows indications of exhaustion.

I also said it was a pleasure to receive him as a distinguished citizen of Mexico, of whose reputation as a man of culture and letters I had previous knowledge, and that I was glad to have from him such assurances of the will and purpose of those in control of Mexico, of which I would take occasion to inform the President in the hope that those assurances may be translated into a satisfactory understanding with reasonable certainty of the power of the existing Mexican Government to carry out the policies indicated and ultimately justify the President in entering into closer and official relations with the Mexican authorities.

I then told him that I would not enter into further details at least for the present, but would advise him later when I might be able to continue the discussion.

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Before leaving, I informed Mr. Iglesias of the receipt of Cable No. 309 of June 29 from our Chargé in Mexico27 communicating a reply from the Mexican Minister of Foreign Affairs regarding the Jafredson murder case. I told him it was very satisfactory to receive such a frank communication from the Mexican authorities, which was quite different from that to which we had become accustomed in our dealings with previous leaders, and which indicated an acceptable change in policy and gave considerable hope for the future. I added that this change might result in ultimate benefit to Mexico as well as to the United States, and that we would not object to the Minister of Foreign Affairs giving out to the press in Mexico City this communication of his Government, which would show the Mexican people the change of policy of the Mexican Government. He told me he would telegraph his Government to that effect.

I was most favorably impressed with Señor Iglesias. He is cultured and apparently patriotic and sincere.

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