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

No. 5494

Sir: I called on Licenciado Beteta, Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs, by appointment at the Foreign Office today to discuss various pending matters.

I first mentioned the question of the Yaqui Valley along the lines of a memorandum of which a copy is being submitted under cover of a separate despatch21 (copy not left at Foreign Office), supplemented by observations to the effect that before very long our Congress would re-assemble and the matter might be discussed very acrimoniously were the lands of American citizens in the Yaqui Valley to be expropriated under the Agrarian Code. I also called attention to the substance of a telegram from the American Consul at Guaymas dated October 4, 1937,21 in which the Consul said:

“The State Secretary General, in the absence of the Governor, informed me today definitely that the Yaqui lands will be divided later this month upon the arrival from Mexico City of Agrarian Chief Vázquez who will bring the Agrarian Department file on the case with him. I will leave tonight for Consular Convention at Mexico City. Department has been informed.”

Licenciado Beteta said that he was not familiar with the latest developments in the Yaqui Valley case. I told him that last December I had discussed the matter at some length with President Cardenas and I requested Mr. Beteta to ask the President to take no action in the matter until I could see him again. Mr. Beteta replied that the President was expected to return to Mexico City on October 8, and that he would make arrangements for me to have an interview promptly with President Cárdenas.

On the general subject of agrarianism as it affects American citizens, I stated to Mr. Beteta that I did not see how Mexico could possibly justify its policy of expropriating lands without making provision for them, his Government having in the original legislation authorized the issue of bonds in payment of lands expropriated. I then handed him a copy of the enclosure to my despatch number 5489 dated October [Page 613] 5, 1937,22 consisting of figures taken from Mr. Simpson’s “The Ejido.”23 These figures were attributed to Mexican official sources by Mr. Simpson. Without definitely indicating the source of the figures, I said that they were the best available and inquired why Mexico could not at least issue the remaining bonds which had been authorized, and stressed the importance to Mexico of at least paying for the lands dotated. The reply was made that this avenue would be explored. (I may observe here that the Commercial Attaché24 has been informally advised by the Secretary of the Treasury that he has worked out a plan for the payment of bonds to affected land owners. The Commercial Attaché also understands that a part of the two million pesos supposed to have been included in this year’s budget for the beginning of payment of the agrarian debt, was allocated to the issuance of bonds of the interior public debt, which are now being exchanged for the old Federal agrarian bonds, and that the remainder will be set up in the Treasury towards redemption of the coupons of the new bonds it is proposed to issue. The plan the Secretary of the Treasury has in mind apparently does not envisage any payment of accrued interest on existing agrarian bonds, but does contemplate servicing the new bonds to be issued.)

I also took up the matter of the threatened dotation of lands in San Luis Potosi, known as the Hacienda de Pardo, belonging to Valdemar Knudsen, Edward D. Bangs and Emile Von Hiller, all American citizens. Mr. Beteta said that the agrarian question in San Luis Potosi was a complicated one due to the existence of several schools of thought on the subject. One, as a result of General Cedillo’s25 influence, being a preference for ownership of lands in fee simple, which course is apparently advocated by various campesinos who in this way are on the side of the land owners. He promised to look into the matter of the Hacienda El Pardo concerning which I left a memorandum (copy enclosed with separate despatch) with him.

I also took up the matter of the regulations of the so-called Stolen Automobile Convention,26 and suggested that the best way to put an end to the present delay would be for him to designate a representative of the Foreign Office to confer with a member of my staff. This thought seemed to appeal to Mr. Beteta and he said that in a day or two he would advise me of the name of the representative he would designate.

Respectfully yours,

Josephus Daniels
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Eyler N. Simpson, The Ejido, Mexico’s Way Out (Chapel Hill, 1937), pp. 221–222.
  5. Thomas H. Lockett.
  6. Saturnino Cedillo, former Minister for Agriculture.
  7. Signed October 6, 1936, Department of State Treaty Series No. 914, or 50 Stat. 1333.