The Mexican Ambassador ( Téllez ) to the Secretary of State


Mr. Secretary: Your Excellency knows that since 1861 there has been in Pichilingue Bay, La Paz, Lower California, a coaling station maintained by Your Excellency’s Government and where the United States ships coal.

[Page 585]

Your Excellency’s Government is aware that the station was not established in accordance with the laws of Mexico then in force, but only by a permit which Your Excellency’s Government secured from the Jefe Político of Lower California, which permit that authority had no power to grant under the Constitution of 1857. In 1867, this permit was confirmed, also without any legal authority, by Señor Don Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada, then Minister for Foreign Affairs, but in doing so he remarked that the present situation was permitted only because of the good relations existing between Mexico and the United States.

Subsequently, in May 1900, during the administration of General Porfirio Días, in the same illegal manner, the permit was again extended, but the point was emphasized both in the agreement which was made on the subject and in the note which was sent to Your Excellency’s Government that the permit was unilateral, that is, it was entirely an act of good will on the part of Mexico and could, therefore, be revoked at any time. In other words, the United States has only a precarious title to this station, and for that very reason the permit may be revoked at any time. That must be the understanding of Your Excellency’s Government.

The present Mexican Constitution, like that of 1857, does not permit establishments of foreign governments such as the coaling station in Pichilingue in the national territory, as these very stations afford occasion for placing in charge persons in the service of the departments of those governments and for permitting foreign war vessels freely to enter and sail out of Mexican waters although they may be those of a friendly nation.

The government of President Obregón, in compliance with its obligations, has deemed the continuance of this situation to be irregular and illegal and has, therefore, instructed me to state, as I now have the honor to do, to Your Excellency’s Government that Mexico feels it has no legal or moral power to continue this permission as it has been doing, and it requests Your Excellency’s Government to remove within 6 months the coaling station now maintained in Pichilingue.

The Mexican Government trusts that the Government of the United States, and particularly Your Excellency, will appreciate the fact that this decision does not imply any unfriendly sentiment but that it is due solely to the fact that the continued existence of that station is incompatible with the fundamental laws of Mexico and with the honor of the Mexican Government which is under obligation to see that the laws are enforced.

It affords me [etc.]

Manuel C. Téllez
  1. File translation revised.