The Ambassador in Mexico (Daniels) to the Secretary of State
[Received April 17.]
Sir: Yesterday morning, accompanied by Mr. Norweb, Counselor of the Embassy, I called on the Foreign Minister, and told him I was leaving Monday14 for the United States to be gone several weeks. Before going I asked to bring to his attention several questions upon which I expected to confer with the Secretary of State when in Washington. I was particularly desirous of ascertaining the attitude of the Government with reference to matters touched upon in instruction No. 673, containing the memorandum from Mr. Harold Walker, Vice President of the Huasteca Petroleum Company. Following the expression of that instruction, I refrained from “specific reference to the difficulties encountered by any particular American company”, but propounded questions designed to ascertain the situation, not only with regard to the petroleum question, but also on the payment for agrarian expropriations,15 and the religious situation16 at the present time.
At my request, Mr. Norweb has prepared a memorandum of the conversation, which is appended. The answers to my questions indicate that no immediate response may be expected bearing on the fears [Page 767] of Mr. Walker with reference to the petroleum claims of the Huasteca Petroleum Company.
As to the payment for lands expropriated, the Minister is waiting upon the studies of the Minister of Hacienda. In view of my interest he said he would take the matter up again with the Minister. At a previous interview, when I called his attention to the fact that, whereas bonds had formerly been given in payment for the lands expropriated, but none had been provided recently, he had said that all the bonds authorized by law had been issued, and that no new authority for additional bonds could be obtained until Congress meets in September. A recent statement shows that during February last nearly 50,000 hectares were provisionally donated and 42,017 hectares definitely given to agrarians.
In a former conversation I had told the Minister that the action of certain Mexican states, particularly meaning Tabasco, in closing churches and denying the exercise of their office by priests, had caused much sentiment in favor of the Borah Resolution.17 Yesterday I told him that tourists just from Mazatlan had told me the churches were closed, and asked if there had been any change in the situation with reference to churches and priests. I indicated, as I had formerly done, that such action had militated against the best conditions between the two countries. He realizes the situation and said that the situation is less acute and is improving.
The Minister believes the strike situation will not be as serious as has been generally feared in view of the declaration of some of the labor organizations (there are several and they are antagonistic) for a general strike on April 20th. He bases his optimistic view upon the action of the President in the Puebla strike, brought on by a bitter struggle between rival unions.
The Minister made reference to the fact that his predecessor, Dr. Puig, and myself had arranged to go to the border and at first hand to study the situation regarding the disposition of waters of the Rio Grande and the Colorado River, which was not carried out because, as Dr. Puig was retiring, he concluded to leave the trip and preliminary study for his successor. “I think upon your return”, said Mr. Portes Gil, “it would be well if you and I can carry out the original idea so our governments may know all the conditions that must precede a treaty agreement.” I told him that in 1934 my government had approved the visit and study and I would be pleased to take the matter up with him upon my return in June.
Upon taking leave of the Minister, I asked him to give the same courteous reception and consideration to Mr. Norweb, who would [Page 768] be in charge in my absence on leave, he had always shown me. The Minister and Mr. Norweb are already on good terms and Mr. Norweb will have access to him when public business requires. Inasmuch as May is an “off month” in government circles, with thirteen days of holidays in the public departments, it is not probable that any of the important matters I brought to the attention of the Foreign Minister or now pending will come to a head during my absence. While in the United States I wish to discuss those and other matters with the Secretary of State at his convenience.