812.52–Agrarian Commission/272/7

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Mexico (Boal)

No. 2335

Sir: Reference is made to your despatch 7858, December 24, 1938, particularly the second paragraph5 following the text of the notes dated November 9–12, 1938 in the DAPP release.

The Department assumes that the statement and release in question were intended to allay possible domestic opposition to the arrangement but possibly also with a view to the effects in other countries. In any event, the Department does not feel that it may properly ignore this [Page 656] public official statement that this Government has receded from its position in the matter of the principle concerning prompt and effective compensation since silence on this Government’s part might be held to denote acquiescence. Attempt might be made later to invoke this situation as a precedent sanctioning expropriation without prompt compensation.

Accordingly you are instructed to deliver a note to the Foreign Office as follows:

My Government has noted statements attributed to the President of Mexico, in a DAPP release dated December 23, 1938, to the effect that the Government of the United States agrees that payment for agrarian expropriations need not be made previously nor even immediately, as it had been contending.

With a view to preventing any possibility of misunderstanding of the position of this Government, I have been instructed to remind Your Excellency that in reaching an arrangement with the Mexican Government for the settlement of agrarian claims my Government specifically stated, in its note of November 9, 1938,6 that it had not modified the position set forth at length in its notes of July 21, 19387 and August 22, 19388 and that it must insist that the recognized rules of law and equity require the prompt payment of just compensation for property that may be expropriated.

You are requested to deliver the note personally and to state that while your Government has no desire to be contentious, it feels that for the purposes of the record it is obliged in the most amicable spirit to call attention to this matter.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
Sumner Welles