812.6363/1279: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Mexico ( Summerlin )

171. Your 124 November 18, 12 noon.

Inform Mr. Pani that you advised the Department of the proceedings in the Chamber of Deputies on the 17th instant and of his communication to you covered by your telegram 122 November 17, [Page 704] 1 P.M., and state that you are instructed to invite his attention to the following official statement of the Department given to the press on the 18th instant which explains the attitude of this Government in this matter.

“The officers of the Department of State were much surprised to learn of the expressions in Mexico that the United States Government was seeking to interfere in Mexico’s internal affairs. This Government has not the slightest desire to do so. As Secretary Hughes said in his recent speech at Boston,52 it is not for us to suggest what laws Mexico shall have relating to the future, for, of course, Mexico must be the judge of her own domestic policy. What we have said as to the proposed legislation was with the understanding that the Mexican authorities would welcome an expression of our views.

The Mexican regime desires recognition by the United States. The confiscatory policy of Mexico has stood in the way. We have said that when a nation has invited intercourse with other nations, has established laws under which investments have been lawfully made, contracts entered into and property rights acquired by citizens of other jurisdictions, it is an essential condition of international intercourse that international obligations shall be met and that there shall be no resort to confiscation and repudiation.

We have repeatedly said that we are not particular as to the form of the assurance against confiscation. We desire the fact.

The Mexican authorities have said that they could not make a treaty to give this assurance against confiscation. They have said that the proper course was for the Mexican Congress to regulate the application of the Constitution of 1917 so as to preclude confiscation. We have said that we have not stood in the way of such legislation and should be glad to see it.

Recently we were informed that a bill for this purpose had been drafted. But the provisions of this bill according to our advices were utterly inadequate to protect against confiscation of valid titles acquired under Mexican laws prior to the Constitution of 1917.

Of course we did not desire to rest apparently satisfied with such procedure and permit the Mexican authorities to assume that recognition by this Government would follow the passage of such an inadequate measure.

We were given to understand that the Department’s comment on the proposed measure would not be unwelcome.

We had not the slightest intention of interfering in Mexican affairs and have not done so. The Mexican Congress, of course, is entitled to pass its laws. But if they resort to legislation to interpret the Constitution of 1917 with the idea of precluding confiscation and obtaining recognition by this Government it is only fair that they should know the views of this Government as to the efficacy of the legislation for that purpose. Had this Government in no way intimated its view before the legislation had been passed, there doubtless would have been complaint.

We desired to maintain friendly relations with the Mexican people and it is in the interest of that friendship that we have hoped they [Page 705] would find a way of giving protection against confiscation. Upon that fundamental question the position of this Government remains precisely what it has been.”

  1. Oct. 30, 1922.