Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State9

During the call of Mexico’s Secretary of the Treasury10 and the Ambassador,11 I brought up the land seizure question and, after expressing lasting friendship and interest, said that we were in entire sympathy with any program to distribute lands among the peasants; that as friends and neighbors we were encouraging the same thing in Cuba; and that we had no sympathy with people from other countries going into Mexico and fleecing the Mexican people by any sort of method. I said that any foreigner going there and purchasing properties [Page 606] for a trifle and later expecting the Mexican Government to pay large amounts therefor, comparatively speaking, was without any sympathy so far as I was aware or concerned; that the only real question arising was whether it was possible for the Mexican Government—when some citizen from this country, in good faith and in a spirit of good will towards Mexico, had gone there and in a perfectly honest manner purchased lands or other properties with no plan or purpose to make undue or unreasonable profits or, as stated, to fleece the Mexicans, but solely with a view to fair play and fair dealing—to determine what would be reasonable and just in the way of compensation when properties were thus taken; if so, that it would be much appreciated by this Government and would enable us to be much more helpful to the Mexican Government and the Mexican people than we otherwise would be able in the future.

The Secretary of the Treasury promptly replied that he understood and appreciated this viewpoint and that they were undertaking to work to this end. He repeated it with emphasis.

C[ordell] H[ull]
  1. This memorandum, together with one on the Pan American Highway (not printed), was sent to the Ambassador in Mexico under cover of a personal letter dated April 25, 1937 (not printed). “With respect to the agrarian claims”, Secretary Hull wrote, “you will understand that our conversation was informal. Bach case arising will, of course, require careful consideration of all the pertinent facts.”
  2. Eduardo Suarez.
  3. Dr. Francisco Castillo Nájera.