812.52/2075

The Acting Chief of the Division of the American Republics ( Tanis ) to the Assistant Secretary of State ( Moore )

Dear Judge Moore: I refer to despatch 4171 of December 16, 1936, from Ambassador Daniels,2 regarding his recent conference with President Cardenas, concerning the religious situation in Mexico, the expropriation law, agrarian and other matters. It is my understanding that the despatch has recently been sent to your office by Mr. Hackworth.3

I would invite your attention to pages 6, 7, and 8 of the memorandum accompanying the despatch respecting the situation in the Yaqui Valley. It appears that President Cardenas is determined to expropriate portions of the farms of about one hundred or more American farmers in that Valley. On page 8 of the memorandum appears the following statement concerning President Cardenas’ attitude:

“… if President Roosevelt insisted on it the Mexican Government would wish to make any settlement that he desired with regard to the Yaqui Valley in order to save him from embarrassment and difficulty in the United States.”

Some time ago we took the position in instructions sent to Ambassador Daniels that the Department cannot acquiesce in the expropriation of lands belonging to American citizens unless prompt and effective compensation based upon the actual loss to the owner is to be paid.

Concerning the threatened expropriation of Yaqui Valley lands belonging to American citizens, it seems to me that earnest and careful consideration should be given to the advisability of requesting the President to authorize the Department to instruct the Ambassador [Page 603] to advise the President of Mexico in due course along the following lines:

The President cannot regard without deep concern the continuance of a policy in Mexico which amounts virtually to confiscation of American-owned lands. While the President would have no objection to a settlement of the specific case of the Yaqui Valley problem along the lines of a plan acceptable to the American landowners in that area, he sincerely hopes that not as a favor but as a matter of right from now on there may be a cessation of expropriations of American-owned lands in Mexico unless prompt and effective compensation based upon the actual loss to the owners of such lands is to be paid. The President also anticipates that arrangements will shortly be made by the Mexican Government for the effective compensation of American citizens who have already been deprived of their property.4

R. C. Tanis
  1. Ibid., p. 709.
  2. Green H. Hackworth, Legal Adviser.
  3. The Secretary of State discussed this subject at length with President Roosevelt. The latter agreed with Mr. Hull that with regard to cases of expropriation arising in Mexico, each case might be treated and dealt with upon “its own special state of facts”. The United States would at the same time preserve its “formula and principle of just compensation.” (812.52/2212). Subsequently, the Secretary brought up the question in his conversation with the Mexican Ambassador on April 20, 1937; see p. 605.