411.12/1146: Telegram

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

351. At 11 a.m. today Mr. Lane33 and myself had a conference with Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Vázquez Schiaffino and González Roa regarding future sessions of the two Commissions. Mr. Roa did practically all of the talking on the Mexican side and I understand he was making his suggestions for the Mexican Government. The suggestions he made are these:

Immediately to prepare for a session of the Special Claims Commission to convene here in February and to continue through March and April. To this session there shall be submitted a selected list of cases which for domestic reasons here shall not include Villa cases where Villa’s official status is doubtful nor cases involving acts of Victoriano Huerta, it being expressly understood that the omission to hear such cases at this time is purely a matter of expediency and that it in no way is a relinquishment of our rights in such cases nor an indication that we abandon them. In justification of this request Mr. Roa urged the touchy state of the Mexican public mind on account of the present economic crisis as also the popular opinion in the United States which was easily inflamed over the Villa cases.
That the General Commission shall resume its sessions in Washington in early May and continue through June into July, when the Commission shall take a vacation for the remainder of July and August. Mr. Roa first suggested a vacation for three months beginning May 1st with the Commission reconvening in August. I pointed out that this would take the beginning of the session too near the period of convention renewals and furthermore it would require the Commission to sit in Washington during the [Page 505] hottest weather, something to which Commissioner McGregor had before objected. Mr. Roa expressed himself as not much impressed with the hot weather argument and I suggested the earlier session and the later vacation and he accepted.
The Mexican Government also suggests and for domestic reasons of like expediency, that no agrarian cases be heard at the May–July meeting of the General Commission with a like understanding that such omission to hear such cases at that time shall in no way constitute a relinquishment of our rights in such cases nor an indication that we abandon them, and Mr. Roa advanced as his reason for this request the state of the popular Mexican mind on the agrarian question.
More than once during the interview Mr. Roa stressed the desirability of an en bloc settlement upon which my only comment was that the Department was not fully convinced of the desirability of such a settlement.
It is agreed that the Foreign Office consulting McAuliff Elorduy and the Embassy consulting Mr. Bouve we shall try now to work out in the next few days an agreement on some of the preference matters pending before the Special Claims Commission such as the procedure to be followed in filing evidence so that the Mexican agent can go forward immediately completing the preparation of cases for hearing.
The suggestions of the Mexican Government seem essentially to meet the suggestions I originally made under your direction, namely, an immediate short session of the Special Claims Commission, then a longer session of the General Commission in Washington, then a longer session of the Special in Mexico City, except
That arrangement between the agents is substituted for a present short session of the Special Commission here and the long Special Commission here precedes instead of follows the long General Claims Commission session in Washington, and except
That by agreement claims of certain categories are not to be pressed to hearing at the sessions of either Commission at their forthcoming proposed sessions.
The interview was entirely cordial throughout and Mr. Roa seemed to manifest a real desire to reach a just and amicable arrangement.
I have another appointment for Wednesday at 5 p.m. to discuss matters covered in paragraph numbered 4 above.

It would be helpful if the Department could give me its instructions on all the foregoing plans before that time.

  1. Arthur Bliss Lane, Counselor of the Embassy.