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

No. 275

Sir: Referring further to the Department’s instruction No. 82 of December 11, 1924, in relation to the desire for renewal of the privilege formerly accorded by the Mexican Government to the United States Fleet to operate from the waters of Magdalena Bay during periods for which diplomatic arrangements would be made beforehand in each case, I have the honor now to report the receipt of a memorandum dated January 24, last, from the Mexican Department of Foreign Relations, of which a copy with translation is herewith enclosed.

I also enclose herewith a copy of the aide-memoire left by Ambassador Sheffield with the Secretary of Foreign Relations on December 27, last,82 in connection with his oral representations on this subject, as reported in his telegram No. 430 of December 31, 12 noon, 1924.82

I have [etc.]

H. F. Arthur Schoenfeld

The Mexican Minister for Foreign Affairs (Sáenz) to the American Ambassador (Sheffield)

With reference to the aide-mémoire of December 27, last, it is stated that from 1903 to 1910, in view of the good relations between both countries, Mexico granted to the United States at its request permission for its naval vessels to hold maneuvers and target practice in Magdalena Bay and for its coaling ships to take up their station there. These facts caused the press of Mexico, as well as of the United States and of other countries, to publish news of a supposed cession of that bay by Mexico to the United States. Because of this fact an agreement was reached with the Department of State of the United States, and such news as had given rise to unacceptable comment was corrected. Upon the expiration of the last permission in 1910 Mr. P. C. Knox made the statement to the Ambassador of [Page 588] Mexico that the United States did not intend to request further permission for the reason that in the future naval maneuvers and target practice would be held on the high seas.

In view of the foregoing reasons and especially of the distrust which this subject has raised whenever it is discussed, and considering, moreover, that the good harmony and understanding which happily exist between our two countries would be secured by avoiding a question regarding which, however unjustifiably, there exist such serious prejudices, Mexico would desire that the American Government should for the present maintain the same point of view set forth in 1910 by the Secretary of State, Mr. P. C. Knox, and should continue in its attitude of not requesting new permits for Magdalena Bay, since such a decision would avoid all comment.

The Government of Mexico desires to state to the Government of the United States, however, that if eventually its Navy Department should solicit, as an exception, a permit relative to the stationing of its fleet in Magdalena Bay for maneuvers and target practice, Mexico would be disposed, upon previous diplomatic negotiation in each case, to indicate the conditions under which it would grant such a permit in accordance with Mexican laws.

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  3. File translation revised.