The Ambassador in Mexico (Morrow) to the Secretary of State
[Received August 7—3:36 a.m.]
306. Your 428, August 3, 2 p.m. Had conference with Estrada late afternoon of August 5th with following results:
1. Referring to paragraph 3, Department’s 402,9 Minister Estrada stated yesterday that he was willing that the two agencies should [Page 442] continue to prepare and submit memorials, briefs, etc., after the extension of the two conventions and pending the choice of a presiding commissioner. It was considered that this could be accomplished without entering into any formal protocol covering the matter and merely by instructions from the two Governments to their respective agents.
2. Estrada did not prepare draft of interpretative letter referred to in our 302, August 3. Matter accordingly taken up orally. After considerable discussion he agreed to the extension of the general claims convention upon conditions that Secretary Stimson should sign a letter, either prior to the signature of the extension of the convention or contemporaneous thereto, which should set out an understanding in regard to the payments called for under article 9 of the convention. The following draft letter incorporates the points which we understood Estrada desired to have inserted in the letter:
“In proceeding to a signature of the convention extending the life of the General Claims Commission, United States–Mexico, I am pleased to state that, appreciating the difficulties now existing in the finances of your Government and your hesitation to renew this convention because of the terms of payment set out in article 9 thereof, and understanding that your Government is taking steps which look to an early general readjustment of the entire financial situation of your Government, including an en bloc settlement of claims covered by the convention, it is understood that the two Governments will consult later, as occasion arises, as to the measures to be taken for the implementing of the provisions of said article 9 of the general claims convention with reference to the time and method of payments.”
Estrada has not yet seen the text of foregoing draft. Before finally closing the matter he will have to submit matter to the President. If the foregoing letter is satisfactory to the Department I will immediately take up text with Estrada. With reference to the value of article 9, a reading of the minutes of the Warren-Payne conference in 192310 leads me to the belief that paragraph 2 of that article was considered by the American Commissioners as very important to American claimants and that paragraph 3 was considered necessary by the Mexican Commissioners in order to give Mexico the option of paying cash in lieu of specific restitution of property or rights which might prove politically embarrassing.
3. Referring to paragraph 2, Department’s 402, I mentioned the appointment of a presiding commissioner. Estrada stated that it was the policy of his Government to have American questions adjusted by Americans. He referred to the provisions of the Havana convention of arbitration11 (text not found in Embassy) providing [Page 443] for the choice of presiding commissioners. He stated he was prepared to submit immediately 21 names or double that number if we desired. He referred to the presumed feeling of the Department of State that commissioners chosen from Latin American countries would be favorable to Mexico rather than the United States and stated that, notwithstanding the identity of language and presumed common sympathy from a common heritage of Latin America, as a matter of fact there was little that Latin Americans could agree upon among themselves. I suggested that perhaps we might take some one who is already acting as presiding commissioner on some of the other commissions to which Mexico is a party.
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4. In regard to point 2 in the Department’s 426, I did not discuss again negotiations for an en bloc settlement. It will be noted that specific reference is made to such negotiations in the draft of letter suggested in paragraph 2 above. This matter can be taken up when the extending conventions have been signed.