The Ambassador in Mexico ( Clark ) to the Secretary of State

No. 26

Sir: Referring to my telegram number 335 of December 1, 5 p.m.,30 regarding my interview of that date with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, with respect to the meetings of the General and Special Claims Commissions, I have the honor to transmit herewith a memorandum giving a detailed account of the interview in question.

Respectfully yours,

J. Reuben Clark, Jr.
[Page 500]

Memorandum of a Conversation Between the American Ambassador (Clark) and the Mexican Minister for Foreign Affairs (Estrada), December 1, 1930

I went to see Mr. Estrada this morning at eleven AM, by appointment. After discussing the matter with Mr. Lane, I determined to take no interpreter, but to use one at the Foreign Office. Mr. Casanova acted as interpreter.

. . . . . .

III. Mr. Estrada’s statement:—In the course of his discussion, he brought up the matter of an en bloc settlement, and indicated that he thought this was a proper way to settle the whole question. He spoke of a “global” settlement, by which I understood him to mean a settlement with all of the countries, because he said that if a settlement were made with the United States, he could make a settlement with the other powers. In this connection, he seemed to assume that the settlements would be paid in the order in which they were made, since he observed that Belgium had already been paid a considerable sum because they had reached an agreement as to the amount due; that Germany would next be paid the amount of all awards because that sum had been determined and that the payment was extending over a period of five years; that if the French were to make a settlement, they would come next, and so on. The point that he evidently wished to make was that if the United States did not make its settlement now, it would be postponed as to the time or order of payment until all of the others who had made settlements were paid.

Reply to Mr. Estrada:—During the making of these statements by Mr. Estrada and thereafter, I brought up the following matters:

I said that I had suggested the desirability of an en bloc settlement of these claims to Mr. Morrow and to the Department before Mr. Morrow came to Mexico City in 1927; that an en bloc settlement had always seemed to me desirable; but that neither Mr. Morrow nor the Department felt quite sure that there was any real advantage in it.

I asked Mr. Estrada as to when he had in mind taking up the discussion. He said immediately. I then, somewhat jokingly, called attention to the rumor that he was to be married on December 10th;—he said the rumor was correct;—that he was to leave for New York on his wedding trip on the 10th;—he said that was correct;—that he would not return to Mexico until sometime in the first half of January;—he said that was correct. I then said that it seemed to me that it would scarcely advance the matter to begin before he went away, since we would have to let the matter rest in abeyance until he returned. He said he thought that was right, but that at least we could be thinking about it. I told him that that certainly could be done. He [Page 501] seemed to manifest a real and rather anxious desire to make an en bloc settlement.

His observations regarding the time and order of payment obviously raised the question of priorities. I did not deem it wise to enter into any discussion of this matter, so when he spoke of our coming in ahead of the British and French claims if we made an immediate en bloc settlement, I said that probably the other governments would object to such a preference for us and would insist that whatever Mexico had to pay should be divided among the governments rateably. Mr. Estrada made no comment to this.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

J. Reuben Clark, Jr.
  1. Not printed