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

No. 5616

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my despatch 5588 of October 28, 1937, reporting my conversation with the Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs regarding the agrarian expropriations in the Yaqui Valley and enclosing a copy of my note 2486 of October 27th on that subject; and to enclose a copy and translation of a note which has just been received from Licenciado Beteta in reply thereto, number 312243 of October 29, 1937. Comments on this note will be forwarded to the Department in a separate despatch.

Respectfully yours,

Josephus Daniels
[Page 625]

The Mexican Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs (Beteta) to the American Ambassador (Daniels)

No. 312243

Mr. Ambassador: I take pleasure in referring to Your Excellency’s esteemed note 2486 of the 27th instant regarding the interview which the representatives of the American landowners of the Yaqui Valley had with the President of the Republic; an interview of which they gave an account to Your Excellency and which gave rise to certain observations contained in the note under reference.

As regards the apparent duality in the classification of the lands to which Your Excellency refers: that is, that they were considered non-irrigated (de temporal) for purposes of dotating up to eight hectares to each ejidatario, and, on the other hand, were considered as irrigated lands for the purpose of limiting each small property to only one hundred hectares, I beg to inform Your Excellency as follows:

First: The owners of lands in the Yaqui Valley are not owners of the water, and therefore the lands are, in reality, non-irrigated (de temporal) and certainly would be converted into irrigable lands subsequent to the dotations, upon application of the Law of Waters, which gives preferential rights to ejidos. Therefore, when the ejidatarios are granted more than four hectares such action is within the law.

Second: As a result of the foregoing, if the owners prefer that they be left the small property which the Agrarian Code specifies for non-irrigated land (up to 300 hectares), this can be done—but they will not have water rights.

Third: Believing that the above solution is not favorable to the interests of the owners, the Government thought it proper to convert the non-irrigated lands into irrigated lands, giving them, accordingly, an equal right (to water) as the ejidos and making a free grant of water. Thus conditioned, the lands are strictly irrigated lands, and therefore the small property can consist of only one hundred hectares. Your Excellency can see, therefore, that there has been no duality of standards, but, on the contrary, a desire to help the affected landowners.

As regards indemnification asked by the owners for canals and other irrigation works, it should be borne in mind that, since on the new lands which they will receive there will also be improvements (obras) of this nature, made at the cost of the Mexican Government, such improvements will therefore be ample compensation for the owners in question.

The matter of water rights pertaining to the lands which are given in exchange for the properties affected is set forth absolutely clearly in the acuerdo issued by the President: The Government of Mexico [Page 626] will give lands which are gravity-irrigated and equivalent to the lands affected.

The appraisal prior to dotation, desired by the American Government, is impossible in view of the fact that the dotations will be made next Sunday, the 31st instant. But, since the nature and condition of the lands would not vary, the appraisal can be made immediately following the dotations, without fear of any change due to the mere fact that the lands have been granted in dotation. The Government believes it has a right to command confidence, and not the belief that, once the lands have been distributed, it will cease to meet its obligations (cumplir sus compromisos).

As regards the animals and tools, these will be paid for in cash at the time they are delivered by their present owners to the ejidatarios.

Your Excellency is right in thinking that the crops obtained on these lands which have been sown with wheat up to October 30th of this year will belong to the present owners, and that crops sown later than that date should be the property of the ejidatarios. This is in fact provided for in the President’s Decree, already known to that Embassy. Nevertheless, the owners will be indemnified for the work of preparing and irrigating the lands. To prevent the danger of lowered production of wheat, an effort will be made in each case to secure an arrangement between the owners and the workers whereby the planting will not be delayed and the owners not suffer losses.

As Your Excellency will see from the foregoing explanations, the desire of the American Government that the owners of lands in the Yaqui Valley should receive adequate compensation for tools and equipment as well as for the lands affected, is met by the provisions of the respective Presidential Acuerdo; for, as regards the lands, the owners will receive the equivalent in other lands with water rights—lands in reality better than those which they are losing, since at present they have to pay for the water and in the future irrigation will be free both for the small properties left to them and for the new lands which are given to them for colonization purposes.

As regards equipment, tools, and animals, as well as the work done in sowing wheat: the Government will indemnify in cash.

Accept [etc.]

R. Beteta