Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of the American Republics (Duggan)

Mr. Stocker26 went over with me the Yaqui Valley situation. He expressed appreciation for the efforts of the Department to withhold [Page 673] definite dotation of the lands and asked whether the Department thought it would be able to have the lands restored to the American citizens there. I told Mr. Stocker that the whole question of procedure and compensation in connection with agrarian expropriations was now under discussion with the Mexican Government and I hoped that some formula would be evolved that would take care of the situation in a manner satisfactory to American landowners but that I was unable to give him any encouragement that the Yaqui Valley lands would be returned to their American owners.

Mr. Stocker corrected a misconception which I entertained based upon reports from both Mr. Yepis and the Embassy at Mexico City. I had understood not only that the lands had not been definitely dotated but that they were still being worked by their American owners. Mr. Stocker informed me that the situation is as follows. The irrigated lands belonging to American citizens, with the exception of the pequeñas propiedades,27 have been turned over to the former workmen who have constituted themselves into ejidos. He said that the lands were occupied just at the time of planting when they had been plowed, harrowed, and otherwise prepared. Nevertheless, on account of ignorance as to proper planting, the crop this year would be almost a total failure. Mr. Stocker said he thought it should be made very clear that the irrigated lands have been turned over to the former workmen of the farms there, many of whom came from other states, and that these persons were not, with a very few exceptions, Yaqui indians.

The lands on the right bank have been in the hands of the Yaqui indians for some time. It is on these lands that exist the indian pueblos, whereas there are not now, nor have there ever been, indian pueblos on the irrigated lands.

Recently, and despite the definite word in the acuerdo of last fall,28 the Government has signified its intention of giving about 30,000 acres to the Yaqui indians south of the Yaqui River. These lands do not connect with the irrigated lands but are further west.

I asked Mr. Stocker how long it would be before the Government would complete the works for irrigating the new lands in the Yaqui Valley. Mr. Stocker thought that it would take several years, possibly even ten, since it would be necessary to go a long ways upstream in order to get the height necessary to carry the water to the new lands which are higher ground.

I asked Mr. Stocker whether the Americans in the Yaqui Valley would remain there to farm their small property or whether they [Page 674] would leave. He thought that the younger people would probably leave since it would only be possible to eke out a very poor living on their small properties. Some of the older people would probably remain, such as his father.

  1. John D. Stocker, representative of the American landowners in the Yaqui Valley.
  2. Small properties. Article 51 of the Agrarian Code provided that 150 hectares of irrigated land or 300 hectares of seasonal lands were to be inaffectable or reserved to owners whose lands were to be expropriated.
  3. Presidential Acuerdo of October 27, 1937, Foreign Relations, 1937, vol. v, p. 622.