The Mexican Ambassador ( Téllez ) to the Secretary of State


Mr. Secretary: In compliance with a telegraphic instruction from my Government, I have the honor to place in Your Excellency’s hands the enclosed memorandum containing the text of the reply which Señor Licenciado Sáenz, Minister for Foreign Affairs, made to the aide-mémoire which Your Excellency was pleased to deliver to him through His Excellency, Mr. James R. Sheffield, the American [Page 538] Ambassador in Mexico,35 regarding a bill to regulate section 1 of article 27 of the Constitution, which is now under consideration in the Senate.

Accept [etc.]

Manuel C. Téllez

The Mexican Minister for Foreign Affairs ( Sáenz ) to the Secretary of State 37

I have transmitted to the President the personal appeal which you in a friendly manner were good enough to make to me in order legitimately to remove the clouds which you say you perceive upon the horizon of friendship between Mexico and the United States, without thereby implying in the slightest a criticism of the legislation which Mexico as a sovereign state is at present elaborating.

After asserting the foregoing you are pleased to propose the negotiation of a treaty of amity and commerce between the two nations, a treaty of which there has been talk since July 1924. You now judge that there are no longer any impediments to its conclusion, so that it may serve as a pledge for the establishment of the mutual relations of both countries upon a firm basis.

You again add that the proposal of the treaty has no connection with the pending legislation in Mexico. You say, however, that there are certain considerations that are now causing you concern, and you refer to the fact that American citizens who have acquired rights in this country will appeal to your Government which is naturally bound to do its utmost on their behalf. Therefore you believe that the situation may become extremely confused and intimate that the two Governments must always bear in mind the letter and spirit of the proceedings of the Mixed Commission which convened in Mexico City on May 14, 1923, the conclusions of which you do not believe that the Mexican Government wishes to contravene, and you call attention to the economic aspects and consequences of the new legislation.

You finally express the hope that nothing will be done which might affect the good relations between the two countries, and that the mutually constructive policy initiated during the Presidency of General Obregón will be continued.

The foregoing has been considered by President Calles, and he requests me to say to you as follows: [Page 539]

“In his opinion there is absolutely no cause for perceiving clouds upon the horizon of friendship between Mexico and the United States since the Mexican Government is disposed, as it has ever been, to fulfill all the obligations imposed upon it by international law, and since surely the United States will be under no necessity to contravene them. The Mexican Government, therefore, is disposed to negotiate with the United States a treaty of amity and commerce provided such treaty shall protect the legitimate interests of both countries and bear a character of strict and effective reciprocity and of recognition of and respect for the sovereignty of the two contracting parties. You manifest a decided intention of not wishing to interfere with the Mexican legislation which is being elaborated nor of criticising it; but as you repeatedly refer to it, I am constrained to understand that it is this legislation which causes you concern and which you believe may injure American interests and conflict with the friendly spirit of the conversations of Messrs. González Roa and Ross, on the one hand, and Messrs. Warren and Payne, on the other, in May 1923. Therefore I wish to make to you the following explanations:

  • “1. The conferences which took place on the above-mentioned date of May 1923, did not result in any formal agreement other than that of the claims conventions which were signed after the resumption of diplomatic relations. Those conferences were limited to an exchange of views intended to see if it was possible for the two countries to renew those diplomatic relations, and during the conferences President Obregón explained through his Commissioners his intention to follow a policy of understanding with the United States as well as with the other countries of the world—a policy which, in the main, consists of extending a friendly reception to foreigners and capital that would settle in Mexico and giving them the guarantees which are granted to them by our laws.
  • “2. The legislation pending in the Chambers which in any way refers to foreigners is based precisely on this policy. For example, the law which regulates section 1 of article 27, which has been approved by the Chamber of Deputies and which is pending in the Senate Chamber, has respected in their entirety acquired rights, as an unbiased examination can prove.

Furthermore, this legislation has been inspired with the object of eliminating the vagueness in this section, which was much more injurious to the very foreigners it concerned. It embodies only the practice towards foreigners that has been followed from 1917 to the present, without any protest being heard from them in years. I should regret if you were misinformed in this regard and, without any wish to assume the part of adviser, I take the liberty to call your attention to the very human fact that individuals and capital are generally opposed to any innovation, even though such innovation does not mean any invasion of their rights.”

With the foregoing explanations I wish to say to you that the President and I are inspired by the best wishes to continue cultivating the good relations between Mexico and the United States, and I repeat again, that we should view with much pleasure the initiation [Page 540] of negotiations for a treaty of amity and commerce between the two countries since the treaty could contain only fair stipulations which would not establish undue privileges for the respective citizens nor attempt to obstruct in any way the sovereign power to legislate to which both nations are entitled within the bounds of international law.

I believe that in this way I am showing you the friendly manner in which both President Calles and I have received your personal appeal, and I now renew the expression of my high consideration.

  1. File translation revised.
  2. See telegram No. 254, Nov. 13, to the Ambassador in Mexico, p. 527.
  3. File translation revised.
  4. A copy of this memorandum was delivered to Ambassador Sheffield on November 27 and telegraphed to the Department in telegram No. 254, Nov. 27, 5 p.m.; telegram not printed.