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

No. 3483

Sir: In my call on the Foreign Minister3 today, I brought up the matter of the dotation of lands belonging to American citizens and the earnest desire of my government that the lands belonging to citizens of the United States be not appropriated in the future and payment be arranged for lands already taken. I went over with him the attempt that I had made for months to secure action on these representations and discussed with him my various conversations with former Ministers Portes Gil and Ceniceros, as well as with him since he became Foreign Minister, and urged that his Government take up the requests presented, and meet the reasonable representations of my Government.

The Minister requested me to send him an official letter embodying the views I had presented, and said he would bring it to the attention of the President and give me a reply before leaving the city. He expects to go soon—in fact expected to go last week but postponed his trip at the time of the expulsion of General Calles—and I hope to secure a reply shortly to the note I sent him this afternoon. I am enclosing a copy of my note No. 1582 of this date, which embraces the subject matter I called to the attention of the Foreign Minister.

Respectfully yours,

Josephus Daniels

The American Ambassador ( Daniels ) to the Mexican Minister for Foreign Affairs ( Hay )

No. 1582

Excellency: I have the honor to refer to various conversations with Mr. Portes Gil and with Mr. Ceniceros, when he was Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs, and particularly to my conversation [Page 693] with the latter on November 21 last year, during the course of which Mr. Ceniceros informed me that President Cárdenas had instructed him and the Minister of Hacienda to study the question of compensating American citizens for lands expropriated under the Agrarian Laws.

Mr. Ceniceros at that time asked that the American Government refrain from pressing the matter of compensation for American citizens for lands expropriated from them until after the New Year, because by that time President Cárdenas would be prepared to make a proposal which he believed would be satisfactory to American citizens and to the American Government. Mr. Ceniceros furthermore assured me that the interview as published in the New York Times of October 24, 1935, in which President Cárdenas stated that “The land taken in connection with the Government’s land parcelling program today is being paid a just valuation in Government bonds which the present condition of the budget and the National Treasury render entirely sound, especially in view of the declared intention of my Government to meet the indebtedness,” represented the true policy of the Mexican Government.

Because of these assurances and in the expectation that a satisfactory proposal would be made by the Mexican Government shortly after the New Year, my Government has patiently awaited these proposals and refrained from pressing a solution to this most important question.

However, over three months have now elapsed since the time when these proposals were to have been advanced by the Mexican Government and the American Government does not consider that it would be justified in longer withholding further representations in the matter. I am, therefore, instructed by my Government to inform Your Excellency that in accordance with the promise given by Mr. Ceniceros, while Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs, it hopes soon to receive proposals providing:

For the indemnification of American citizens for lands already expropriated, and
Positive assurances that in the future no lands will be taken from American citizens without the payment of prompt and adequate compensation.

In this connection, may I call Your Excellency’s attention to a conversation which took place on December 12, 1935, in the Department of State, Washington, D. C. between Assistant Secretary of State, Mr. Sumner Welles, and the Mexican Ambassador, Mr. Nájera, in which Mr. Nájera gave Mr. Welles positive assurance that no further American property of any kind would be taken over for agrarian purposes other than 3,000 hectares from the Chihuahua Cattle [Page 694] Company. In spite of these categorical assurances, lands continue to be expropriated from American citizens without any compensation whatsoever being offered, contrary to the Mexican Constitution and to the Agrarian Laws.

I need not assure Your Excellency that my Government considers a satisfactory solution to this problem one of the most important questions before our two Governments and I hope that you will be able to give it the serious consideration which it requires and inform me of your views at the earliest possible time.

Please accept [etc.]

Josephus Daniels
  1. Eduardo Hay.