The Chief of the Division of Mexican Affairs (Reed) to the Assistant Secretary of State (Welles)

Mr. Welles: As you know, certain persons who are attacking the Administration for its refusal to intervene in the Mexican religious situation have made much of certain incidents in our past relations with foreign countries which they have cited as constituting historical precedents for action by this Government similar to that which they are demanding it should take with respect to Mexico.

Whether or not the cases cited do constitute precedents is probably a matter of opinion. In the Secretary’s letter to Senator Pittman concerning the Borah Resolution, a number of cases were cited to prove that intervention of the character suggested was contrary to our established policy. The fact of the matter would seem to be that this Government has not always pursued a consistent policy in the premises.

At present, however, this Government is definitely pledged to a policy of non-interference in its international relationships, and it is formally committed to such a policy as respects the Latin American countries, by Articles 5 and 8 of the Convention Signed at Montevideo on the Rights and Duties of States,56 viz.,

  • Article 5. “The fundamental rights of states are not susceptible of being affected in any manner whatsoever.”
  • Article 8. “No state has the right to intervene in the internal or external affairs of another.”

Furthermore, this Government’s reservation57 to the Convention included the following statement:

“Every observing person must by this time thoroughly understand that under the Roosevelt Administration the United States Government is as much opposed as any other government to interference with the freedom, the sovereignty, or other internal affairs or processes of the governments of other nations.”

Mexico has not yet ratified this Convention, but the United States has ratified it and although it is not actually in force between the two countries, there would seem to be no doubt that we are morally bound, at least, to observe the principles which it embraces.

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If the Mexican Congress were in session it might be worth while to suggest informally that Mexico’s ratification of the Convention be expedited. Incidentally, the deposit of Mexico’s ratification would furnish a suitable occasion for a statement to the press in which the implications of the Convention’s provision might be stressed. However, the Mexican Congress is in recess and does not meet until September 1, 1935.

Edward L. Reed
  1. Department of State Conference Series No. 19: Report of the Delegates of the United States of America to the Seventh International Conference of American States, Montevideo, Uruguay, December 3–26, 1933, p. 165.
  2. Conference Series No. 19, pp. 169170.