Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of the American Republics (Duggan) to the Under Secretary of State (Welles)

Mr. Welles: Mr. Richberg called today and informed Mr. Bursley and me at length concerning his recent negotiations in Mexico.

As he left, he said he would furnish the Department, for its strictly confidential information, a copy of the draft of his memorandum of his understanding of the points on which he reached agreement with President Cárdenas. A copy of this memo was presented to President Cárdenas for his approval.

All the companies have agreed that the formula embodied in the memo to President Cárdenas is a satisfactory basis for the detailed discussions. Although some changes have been suggested, Mr. Richberg has been able to keep the companies in line by holding out the possibility of securing President Cárdenas’ word that he also is prepared to go ahead without changes. The longer time goes on with no word from Mexico, the more difficult it will be to prevent the companies, which are continuing to mull over the memo, from suggesting [Page 674] modifications. He thought that he would have difficulty in holding the companies in line for more than a week longer.

He said that it would be very helpful if some intimation could reach President Cárdenas of his difficulty in keeping the companies toeing the mark as well as if the suggestion could be made that it would be highly desirable were President Cárdenas within the next few days to inform him that the basis of agreement as set forth in the memorandum had been accepted by Mexico. With this information he would decline to receive any suggested changes in the bases from the companies, Mr. Richberg said he had understood that President Cárdenas was to have conveyed such an acceptance some days ago and that he now thought the Mexicans were holding off waiting to see whether the companies would take the next step.

I told Mr. Richberg that I thought you would be willing to have a personal chat with Ambassador Castillo Nájera about this.

Mr. Richberg also stated that the Mexican Government desired to have the settlement, if reached, embodied in a treaty. He expressed the opinion that such a treaty would not encounter serious opposition in the United States Senate. There is attached for convenient reference a copy of the memorandum35 of my conversation on April 29, 1939, with the Counselor of the British Embassy on this aspect of the matter. This recites briefly the possible advantages and disadvantages of the treaty method. One of the principal difficulties foreseen was that the Mexican Government would not agree. In the light of Mr. Richberg’s statement this might not be the case.

Laurence Duggan
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