812.52 Agrarian Commission/119

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

Sir: Having reference to the Department’s communications of January 9 and January 26, 19405 and the enclosure with the former, there is herewith enclosed for your further information in that connection a copy of a memorandum of conversation of February 56 with the Mexican Ambassador during which he indicated that the Mexican Government is not entirely satisfied with the information regarding individual claims which is being given by you to the Mexican Commissioner.

It is presumed that the letter from President Cárdenas, to which the Mexican Ambassador referred, was written before any action was taken by you pursuant to the suggestions made in your letter of January 16, and in the Department’s letter of January 26 and is therefore not applicable to your present course of action. With a view, however, to clarifying the matter, the Department offers you the following explanation of its proposed procedure.

As indicated in the Aide-Mémoire which accompanied the abovementioned communication of January 9, it was orally agreed that the two Commissioners should proceed to evaluate the damages caused American nationals by the expropriation of lands in which they were interested, but without any discussion of those technical principles of law relating to international liability, the right to diplomatic protection, et cetera, concerning which the two Governments have thus far reached no definite understanding. As indicated in the Department’s communication of January 26, it was thought that a procedure, which would be appropriate and at the same time be agreeable to you, would be for you to submit to the Mexican Commissioner, as a basis for discussion, a brief abstract of the facts of each case including therein such data as the following: [Page 950]

Name of claimant, with statement of facts concerning his status as an American national.
Date of acquisition of the lands affected.
Location and description of the land affected.
List, with dates, of the decrees or other official acts by which the affectations were brought about.
Computation of damages caused by the affectations.

Such data should enable the Mexican Commissioner to check all necessary facts to determine the amount of damages involved in particular cases so that, when the two Commissioners shall have checked all claims in that manner, the two Governments will have been provided with an evaluation of all of the claims thus enabling them to proceed with discussions concerning an en bloc settlement of the claims without regard to the technical points mentioned above.

The enclosed memorandum of conversation indicates, however, that the Mexican Government expects the two Commissioners to discuss not only the amount of damages caused but also “such questions as the validity of the claim, the nationality of the claimant, et cetera”, which are among the technical questions it has been agreed to put aside pending the conclusion of such a joint appraisal as is indicated above. In this situation, the Department is desirous of receiving a full and frank expression of your views concerning the proper course of action on the part of the two Governments and of the two Commissioners with a view to bringing about a settlement of the claims without the delays and difficulties which would attend a discussion of them on their individual merits in the manner suggested in the enclosure herewith.

Your prompt consideration of this matter would be greatly appreciated.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
Sumner Welles
  1. Latter not printed.
  2. Supra.