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

No. 5629

Sir: I have the honor to refer to recent reports regarding the affectation of American-owned lands in the Yaqui Valley, Sonora, particularly despatches numbers 5616 and 5617, dated November 2 and 4, 1937, respectively.

There is enclosed a translation of note number 312538 of November 6, 1937, from the Foreign Office on the subject. A translation of the enclosure to that note is also enclosed.

Respectfully yours,

Josephus Daniels

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

No. 312538

Mr. Ambassador: I have the honor to refer to Your Excellency’s note number 2492 of the 3rd of the present month.

Your Excellency states that certain American landowners desire to have their lands classified as lands irrigated by rains (temporal) for the purpose of determining their pequeña propiedad, and you ask me before which authorities they should file application to this end.

In reply, I wish to inform Your Excellency as follows:

While it is true that in my previous note number 312243 of October 29th, I explained to that Embassy the reasons why there was no legal objection to the selection by the landowners of the Yaqui Valley the pequeña propiedad which the Agrarian Code prescribes for lands irrigated by rains (temporal), provided they were agreeable to not receiving water, nevertheless, in the same note, under point three, I informed Your Excellency that that solution was not expedient for the owners in question, and that for that reason the Government had considered it advisable (oportuno) to convert them into irrigated lands (tierras de riego), granting them water free to this end.

Inasmuch as, contrary to what might logically be supposed, it appears that certain American landowners now prefer to change the terms of the agreement, and desire to know the competent authority before whom to make application, I beg to inform Your Excellency that it is the Agrarian Department before which such a petition [Page 632] should be filed, and that, since the Chief of the Agrarian Department is at present in Sonora, studying the most expeditious and expedient manner of complying with the Presidential Acuerdo of the 27th of last month,35 he would be the best person to receive that request.

However, I wish to draw the attention of Your Excellency to the following points which I have had the opportunity to discuss amply with Mr. Pierre de L. Boal, Counselor of the Embassy, and which I am certain will convince Your Excellency that the American landowners should desist from the action contemplated:

  • First. In the conference between the President of the Republic and the landholders of the Yaqui Valley, including the American landholders, the President made it clear, and without the slightest protest on the part of the interested parties, that the small property which the proprietors would retain would consist of 100 hectares of irrigated land.
  • Second. The works of distributing the lands to the ejidatarios and of locating the small properties should be practically completed by now, and any change of procedure might seriously retard the solution of the problem and, consequently, to create a situation of insecurity and of tension which we should for every reason seek to avoid.
  • Third. If the American landowners retain lands, which undoubtedly will not have water, they will feel themselves defrauded and consider that the Government is leaving them a useless property.
  • Fourth. If, as a result of the works on the dam, or due to any other cause, those 200 hectares, which are now lands irrigated by rains, should be converted into irrigated lands, they would again be subject to agrarian affectation, in excess of one hundred hectares, and therefore would create new problems in the region.
  • Fifth. It cannot be assured a priori that it will be possible to permit each landowner to retain 200 hectares and still have enough and to satisfy the needs of the campesinos entitled to receive lands. Consequently, by accepting the change proposed, the problem of the Yaqui region, which it is precisely sought to solve, would remain without solution.

In view of the foregoing reasons, the Government deems it necessary to insist upon the expedience of not modifying the arrangement made to the effect that it shall be 100 hectares of irrigated land and not the hectares corresponding to lands irrigated by rains which are indicated as the pequeña propiedad for the landowners of the Yaqui Valley.

As regards the supposition of Your Excellency that the American landowners might challenge the eligibility of the persons figuring in the census list, in order to ascertain whether or not the needs of the campesinos are entirely satisfied, I should say to Your Excellency that the time for that right to be exercised has now passed and that, [Page 633] in the present status of this case, it would be not only illegal but highly inexpedient to seek to reopen the controversy concerning the eligibility of the petitioners.

The remaining points of your note refer to indemnities for land, animals and equipment, as well as to works on the lands which have been affected.

In my conversations of yesterday and today with Mr. Pierre de L. Boal, Counselor of the Embassy, we discussed extensively each one of the details presented by the practical situation, and in those talks I set forth the reasons for the attitude of the Government, which attitude is characterized by the desire to seek the cooperation of the landowners and to obtain promptly an understanding between them and the ejidatarios, in order to prevent the works from being suspended and to preserve the harmony which fortunately has been maintained in the Yaqui region.

In the acta drawn up in Ciudad Obregon, Sonora, on October 30th last, there were precisely determined the form and method to be followed for the payment of the indemnities to which the note under acknowledgment refers. I am transmitting herewith to Your Excellency a copy of that acta, which answers the questions contained in Your Excellency’s note number 2492.

I renew [etc.]

R. Beteta

Acta of October 30, 1937

In Ciudad Obregon, State of Sonora, Mexico, on the thirtieth day of the month of October of nineteen hundred thirty seven, at four o’clock P.M., there gathered together in the Decree Room of the Confederation of Agricultural Associations of the State of Sonora, under the Presidency of Mr. José María Parada, Manager of said concern, the under-signed, with a view to seeking (concretar) the manner in which they shall cooperate in the resolution of the agrarian problem in the Yaqui Zone, in compliance with the decree dictated by the President of the Republic, General Lazaro Cardenas, on the twenty-seventh day of the present month, the following being approved:

  • First: The farmers who sign hereto appreciate in its real significance the attitude of the President of the Republic, Division General Lazaro Cardenas, as well as that of Messrs. Lic. Gabino Vázquez, Chief of the Agrarian Department, General Román Yocupicio, Governor of the State, and Engineer Pascual Gutierrez, Director General of Credit of the Ministry of Finance, whose cooperation they expect in exchange for that which the undersigned offer to lend. They esteem in its true value, and lend their support to, the decree dictated [Page 634] by the President of the Republic on the twenty-seventh day of the present month.
  • Second: The undersigned farmers are willing to cooperate in proportion to their strength and their possibilities, for the best realization of the sowing of the affected lands, for which effect they have agreed:
    That the indemnification for preparation of the affected lands, which have not been sown up to midnight of Saturday, October 30th, be made by the proprietors accepting notes for the value of said work, issued by the Delegate (member) chosen and the President of the Board of Vigilance of the Local Association of Credit of the Ejido in question. The notes shall have a maturity of 260 days from the date of their emission and they shall earn nine percent interest per annum for the total length of time they remain unpaid. The documents will carry the endorsement signature of the Agency of the National Ejidal Bank of Credit in Navojoa, which endorsement will cover all the responsibility for principal and interest in case the ejidatarios do not fulfill their agreement. The amount of the indemnifications shall be fixed by agreements entered into by the proprietor affected and the Ejidal Society of Credit in question, with the intervention of the Bank’s representative, in the understanding that within a period of three days from this date, all the corresponding notes shall be granted. The farmers shall decide the payment (en pago—typographical error?) (or, “shall determine in payment said documents”) (decidirán en pago dichos documentos) on condition that the local banks accept them for discount with endorsement without the responsibility of the benefiting farmer (endorser).
    For the work of sowing, the continuation of which is requested for the account of the ejidatarios, the farmers shall accept the payment in documents emitted with the same characteristics of those described in the above paragraph, which shall be presented for discount of the local banks in the same manner. The liquidations shall be made weekly, or before, on request of the contractor, serving as order of payment the inspection note or constancia on work effected, expedited by the inspector of the Ejidal Bank or the Bank which accepts the discount, in the understanding that the inspection shall be practiced also weekly or before, on request of the contractor.
    The Ejidal Bank of Credit shall furnish the seed and the water necessary to carry out the sowing.
    In the cases where the proprietors do not agree (aceptar) to celebrate a contract to effect in order to effect the sowing of the affected lands, the sale of the necessary implements to carry it out can be made, if the same proprietors are willing; it being possible in every case for the Ejidal Bank in question to enter into the respective contract with a person distinct from the affected proprietor.
    For the effects of the Federal Labor Law, the contracting proprietors shall be considered as mere intermediaries between the workers employed and the Ejidal Society of Credit in question, which shall be considered as the “boss” (patron) for all the effects of the law.
    The contractor shall make the contracted sowing in the usual manner in the region, with the care they would take in their own business; [Page 635] but in no way will he be responsible for accidents, suspensions or other analogous cases caused by force majeure or unexpected reason.
  • Third: The farmers affected by dotations and amplifications to the poblados of Cocorit, Bacum, Esperanza and the thirteen benefited lately in the region of the Yaqui, accept in compensation for the lands which are the object of dotations or amplifications, lands of those comprised by the colonization system which will be opened upon the conclusion of the works of the Angostura Dam, in proportion to the quality and value of those lands, which proportion shall be not less than 1½ hectares for each one of those affected, with the understanding that the location and transfer of the lands offered in compensation shall be effected immediately, according to the views set forth by the Governor of the State, who will continue to watch this matter until Point No. VIII of the Presidential Decree (acuerdo) of October 27th to which reference has been made, has been entirely complied with.
  • Fourth: The farmers consider it expedient that the problem arising from the affectation of their lands be studied and resolved in a form satisfactory to their interests, in relation to the purchase-sale contracts with mortgage guarantee concluded with respect to such lands with the Richardson Construction Company and other institutions and persons. Considering the official character of the said company which practically makes the Federation the owner of the lands covered by the contracts in question and subject to the agrarian affectations (under consideration).
  • Fifth: The taxes on the lands affected shall be for the account of the new owners from the time of their delivery in provisional possession, with the exception of those upon areas covered by extensions of time granted for the harvesting of crops, in which case they shall be for the account of the proprietor affected until the termination of the period granted.
  • Sixth: The necessary expenditures to make the fences (cercas) which separate the properties affected from the portions not affected shall be shared equally by the owners of adjoining properties.

This concluded the meeting, the resolutions of which are contained in the present act for purposes of record, which act is signed by those who participated therein.

  1. Ante, p. 622.