812.52 Agrarian Commission/114

The American Commissioner, Agrarian Claims Commission ( Lawson ) to the Secretary of State

Sir: There has been received under date of January 9, 1940, from the Honorable Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles, a communication concerning conversations with the Mexican Ambassador on the subject of Mexican agrarian claims and there was transmitted copy of an aide-mémoire on the same subject according to the understanding had with the Mexican Ambassador. It is proposed that the claims presented by Americans whose lands have been expropriated, and which claims are now being checked and abstracted by the American Section of the Claims Commission, will be individually examined by the American and Mexican Commissioners and that an endeavor will be made to agree upon proper appraisals as to the amount of losses or damages sustained by the claimants in each case and without regard to the technical points regarding liability which have been raised by the Mexican Government, such as the status of claims of American stockholders in Mexican corporations. The purpose of this arrangement is stated to be as laying the foundation for a settlement of these claims for a total sum, providing that such sum were sufficient to cover and not involve the scaling down of one class at the expense of another class or other classes.

This office recommends that if the Mexican Commissioner agrees to the acceptability of such a plan, and it may be assumed that he will receive a similar request, that the complete claims as originally planned to be presented by the American Section be briefed and submitted to the Mexican Commissioner in a form which would show the claimants, their proven nationality, locations of the tracts, acreages, and amounts [Page 948] claimed for various items of the claim. The reason for this suggestion is that many claims contain in their original form what may be objectional matter and some contentious and provocative statements. The Agrarian Department of the Mexican Government has of record, of course, descriptions and other data as to these claims and undoubtedly by the use of the notices furnished the Mexican Section of the Claims Commission by the American Section has checked and examined descriptions and other details.

Commissioner Serrano has in the past several months been actively engaged as Director of the National Irrigation Commission of Mexico in the supervision of a large construction program, and attempts to reach him through his Juarez office show that he will for the next week or ten days be occupied in Mexico City on budget matters. On next Monday, January 22, there convenes in El Paso a board of engineers which will require my personal attention for final report on the Lower Bio Grande water conservation matters, carrying out the request of Congressman Milton West. I should be in a position to go to Mexico City about February 1 for a meeting with Commissioner Serrano unless he will have concluded his appropriation and budget matters and arrives at the Juarez office before that time.

Pending the settlement of the time and place of such an early conference with the Mexican Commissioner, it would be appreciated if the Department will advise relative to the form of claims presentation as referred to above.

Very truly yours,

Lawrence M. Lawson