The Vice Consul at Guaymas ( Yepis ) to the Secretary of State

No. 276

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the last paragraph of my despatch No. 272 dated August 31, 1936, “Political Report for August, 1936,” to my despatch No. 261 dated June 10, 1936,9 and to previous correspondence on the subject of this despatch.

As mentioned in my despatch No. 272, the petitioners for lands in the so-called Yaqui Valley are now strongly asking that they be given the specific lands for which they have petitioned at the earliest practical date. They do not want the lands which the Yaqui Valley landholders offer to prepare for them (despite the fact that the landholders offer to clear and fence the lands, build canals, roads and even houses) because the lands offered are a few miles further from the railway and at least 20 miles further from Ciudad Obregón. The agrarians strongly insist that they want the lands in the so-called Yaqui Valley, and none other.

It was previously reported that a committee of Yaqui Valley landholders had been at Mexico City and that President Cárdenas had [Page 699] agreed to accept their offer to prepare the lands for the agrarians in order not to give them some or most of their own lands. My informant advised me that a committee of Yaqui Valley landholders left for Mexico City a few days ago again to interview the President in an endeavor to enlist his support to their offer, for apparently he does not now wish to “force” the agrarians to take the land offered.

It is interesting to note that, according to my informant, there are now over 3,000 petitioners; that the land which will be taken from the landholders will be at least 12,000 hectares (about 30,000 acres); that the petitioners are not satisfied with four hectares each, but demand ten hectares, making a total of at least 30,000 hectares, or approximately 60 per cent of the acreage now under cultivation in the Yaqui Valley; that the first and principal lands which will be expropriated in case the petitions are granted, will be those owned by Americans, inasmuch as these lands have the best location as regards nearness to Ciudad Obregón, first rights on irrigation water, and since these American-owned lands have better and more improvements than any other in the Valley.

My informant … said that the Mexican landholders in the Yaqui Valley, who it is expected will be the least affected, have pinned what little hopes they have of less drastic treatment on the conditions described above, that is, that the American Government will appeal to the Mexican Government inasmuch as the American landholders will by far be the heaviest losers should the particular lands the agrarians ask for be granted.

Apparently the petitioners want to eat their cake and have it too, and unless the government views the situation from a broad perspective, it might accede to the demands of the agrarians. If the agrarians are given only 4 hectares each (although it is just as easy for the Government to disregard Article 47 of the Agrarian Code and give them more), they cannot subsist on the produce of such a small area, even if they should till the entire plot diligently (which would be very unusual), but in this case they plan on working for the farmers who would have some land left after the agrarians’ “necessities” were fulfilled. Actually, however, judging from virtually 100 per cent of the agrarian cases witnessed so far, the agrarians would not cultivate as much as 1/10th of the land given them, and they would depend entirely upon the work which the regular farmers would give them for their livelihood. If, however, 12,000 or more hectares are taken away from the regular farmers, it is said that most of the latter will abandon their lands and there will be no work for the agrarians as they now expect.

Even now, the farmers are extremely hesitant about plowing for the winter wheat, fearful that the blow will be dealt sometime after the wheat is planted, and probably when it is ready for harvesting, [Page 700] in which case they would not only lose the land but the crop on the land as well. They also fear that if the demands of the agrarians are met, they will not only lose the land, and possibly the crop, but may even be forced to pay their laborers, the very men who take their lands, three months’ extra wages. The reason it is said that the landholders will abandon their lands in case the agrarian petitions are granted is that they expect the same agrarians, or others who may come in to take their places as laborers, to make further demands within a short time.

Another interesting point brought out by my informant is that the landholders are attempting to delay the agrarian procedure long enough to give the Government time in which to complete the Yaqui River Dam, when there would be sufficient land in the Yaqui Valley for thousands of agrarians. Obviously, however, this is a vain hope. Although preliminary work has apparently started on the dam, the plans call for its completion in four years (to which may be added another four years for good measure), while the agrarian situation in the Yaqui Valley is said to be coming to a head right now.

Respectfully yours,

A. F. Yepis
  1. Neither printed.