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

No. 2539

Sir: The Department encloses herewith, for your information and the confidential files of the Embassy, two volumes containing signed [Page 565] copies of the minutes in English and Spanish of the recent conferences in Mexico City between the Commissioners representing the United States and the Mexican Commissioners.

In this connection, there is also enclosed, for your information and discreet use, a copy of a statement which the Department has made public with regard to the General and Special Claims Conventions which are recorded in the minutes. In view of the fact that these Conventions are to be submitted to the United States Senate for its assent, the Department is not in a position to make any further statement with respect to them at this particular time. The Department will advise you from time to time of any additional important information which it may give out regarding the minutes of the conferences.

I am [etc.]

For the Secretary of State:
William Phillips

Public Statement by the Secretary of State, September 8, 1923, with regard to the General and Special Claims Conventions

The Secretary of State made the following statement:

“A General Claims Convention between the United States and Mexico for the settlement of all claims by the citizens of each country against the other arising since the signing on July 4, 1868, of the Claims Convention entered into between the two countries (not including claims which are embraced within the terms of a Special Claims Convention relating to losses through revolutionary acts) was signed at Washington at one o’clock today. The Secretary of State and Messrs. Charles Beecher Warren and John Barton Payne signed on behalf of the United States, and Senor Manuel C. Tellez, Chargé d’Affaires of Mexico, in Washington, on behalf of Mexico.

“These two conventions were negotiated by the American-Mexican Commission which convened in Mexico City on May 14, 1923, and terminated its sessions on August 15, 1923, and are subject to ratification in accordance with the respective constitutions of the United States and Mexico.

“The General Claims Commission and the Special Claims Commission which are to be created under the terms of these conventions are to be composed of three members each, one to be appointed by the President of the United States, one by the President of Mexico, and the third by mutual agreement between the two governments, or in case of failure to agree, by the President of the Permanent Administrative Council of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at [Page 566] The Hague. The Special Claims Commission is to meet at Mexico City and the General Claims Commission at Washington within six months after the exchange of ratifications of the respective conventions, and the Commissions have the power to fix the time and place of their subsequent meetings.

“The conventions provide for the appointment by each government of the necessary agents and counsel to present arguments in favor of or against any claim, and the decision of the majority of the members of the commission is to be the decision of the commission.

“Both conventions provide that no claim shall be disallowed or rejected by the application of the general principle of international law that the legal remedies must be exhausted as a condition precedent to the validity or allowance of any claim.

“The General Claims Commission has jurisdiction over all claims of the citizens of either country against the other for losses or damages suffered by persons or by their properties, whether such citizens are corporations, companies, associations, partnerships or individuals, as well as over claims by citizens of either country growing out of losses or damages suffered by any corporation, company, association, or partnership in which such citizens have or have had an interest provided an allotment to the claimant of his proportion of the loss or damage is presented to the commission, and all claims for losses or damages originating from acts of officials or others acting for either government and resulting in injustice.

“Claims are to be filed with the General Claims Commission within one year from the date of its first meeting unless satisfactory reasons for delay are presented, in which case the period may be extended not to exceed six months. All claims filed are to be decided within three years from the date of the first meeting of the commission. However, if a claim can not be decided within this period, the two governments will extend the time for deciding such claim for such a period as may be necessary for this purpose. Claims for losses or damages accruing after the signing of the convention may be filed by either government at any time during the period fixed for the duration of the commission.

“It is provided that the General Claims Commission may decide that international law, justice and equity require that a property or right be restored to the claimant in addition to the amount awarded in any such case for all loss or damage sustained prior to the restitution. However, the government affected by such decision may elect to pay the value of the property or right as determined by the commission rather than to restore the property or right to the claimant, and if so, it shall file notice thereof with the commission within [Page 567] thirty days after the decision and shall immediately pay the amount fixed as the value of the property or right. If it fails so to pay this amount, the property or right is to be restored immediately.

“The Special Claims Convention for the settlement of all claims arising from losses or damages suffered by American citizens through revolutionary acts accompanying the disturbed conditions in Mexico within the period from November 20, 1910, to May 31, 1920, inclusive, is to be signed in Mexico City.

“The Special Claims Commission created by this convention is charged with examining and deciding all claims which resulted from any act by the following Mexican forces:

By forces of a Government de jure or de facto.
By revolutionary forces as a result of the triumph of whose cause governments de facto and de jure have been established, or by revolutionary forces opposed to them.
By forces arising from the disjunction of the forces mentioned in (2) up to the time when the government de jure established itself as a result of a particular revolution.
By federal forces that were disbanded, and
By mutinies or mobs, or insurrectionary forces other than those referred to under (2), (3), and (4) above, or by bandits, provided in any case it be established that the appropriate authorities omitted to take reasonable measures to suppress insurrectionists, mobs or bandits, or treated them with lenity or were in fault in other particulars.

“Claims presented for the consideration of the Special Claims Commission are to be filed within two years from the date of its first meeting unless satisfactory reasons for delay are presented, in which case the period may be extended not to exceed six months. All claims filed are to be decided within five years from the date of the first meeting of the commission. The total amount awarded to claimants is to be paid in gold coin or its equivalent by the Mexican Government to the Government of the United States.”