812.52 Agrarian Commission/124

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

Sir: Under date of February 10 Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles, calling attention to the Department’s communications of January 9 and January 26, 19407 on the subject of agrarian claims, United States and Mexico, enclosed for further information a copy of memorandum of conversation of February 5 with the Mexican Ambassador during which he indicated that the Mexican Government is not entirely [Page 951] satisfied with the information regarding individual claims which is being given by the American Commissioner to the Mexican Commissioner. As the Department has assumed, the presentations to the Mexican Section of the Agrarian Commission, beginning last March, were simple notices of the receipt of claims giving the name and location of such claims as they were received by the American Section. Such notices were delivered to enable the Mexican Section to begin their study of expropriation orders and to check with the records of the Mexican Agrarian Department of land takings. Such notices of course have no bearing or connection with the more recent plan of presenting briefs, including values of claims.

It is still believed and still apparent that with the present knowledge of the situation the Department has followed the most proper and logical course in withholding the actual claims from presentation to the Mexican Section pending a very definite agreement on the actual procedure to be followed.

This course is borne out by the last communication on the subject in which it is indicated that the discussion between the Commissioners will include technical questions, the elimination of which is so desirable. I appreciate the Department’s reluctance to instruct me as suggested by the Mexican Ambassador’s outline contained in Under Secretary Welles’ memorandum to Mr. Duggan of February 5. To do so of course would invite this injection of technicalities so necessary to obviate, and which are apparently relied upon to eliminate certain claims.

With reference to the Department’s communication of January 26 this office concurred in the procedure outlined which would, in lieu of originals or actual copies of claims, furnish the Mexican Commissioner, for discussion and evaluation only, brief abstracts of the facts with respect to the name of the claimant, location, area, and values of lands and improvements. Such data would enable the Mexican Commissioner to check all the essential facts in determination of the actual values involved and use such information as the Agrarian Department of his country has assembled and acquired.

Apparently from the memorandum of conversation of February 5 officials of the Mexican Government have undergone a change of ideas over those in the previous arrangement with the Mexican Ambassador as outlined in the aide-mémoire of January 9 [November 24] which accompanied the Department’s letter of January 9 and the situation becomes cluttered by a disposition to evade the actual valuation work.

After some delay I have succeeded in making a definite appointment with Mexican Commissioner Serrano for next Saturday, the morning of February 17, and I will leave El Paso by train to arrive in Mexico City February 16. At such a conference it would be my [Page 952] expectation to endeavor to obtain from Mr. Serrano just what limitations have been imposed upon his actions in evaluation and of course keep any commitments on my part within the confines of the Department’s instructions. In the event that the Mexican Commissioner is not found to be in a receptive mood to the procedure and presentation of the claims in the approved briefed form, and based upon a certain belief that his concurrence will only be obtained with a very marked scaling down of values and with elimination of a large number of important claims, I respectfully suggest and recommend that the American Section proceed with its evaluation and report and that the results be presented to the Mexican Government for en bloc settlement.

A report will be made to the Department by code from Mexico City containing results of my conversations with the Mexican Commissioner on next Saturday morning.

Very truly yours,

Lawrence M. Lawson
  1. Latter not printed.