812.52 Agrarian Commission/134

The Department of State to the Mexican Embassy


The Mexican Government some months ago indicated a possible preference for a global settlement of claims presented by American citizens under the November 9–12, 1938 agreement.

This Government, desirous of giving practical effect to the agreement, is willing immediately to explore the possibility of such a global settlement, with the understanding that it can not, of course, scale down the reasonable values involved in any class or classes of claims. It is thought that the most expeditious and practicable procedure would be essentially as follows:

Each Government would proceed immediately and independently to assemble all data available to it relative to the properties seized and the amounts of damages involved, and on the basis thereof would determine the amount which in its considered opinion would represent a reasonable compensation to the American claimants.

This Government expects to have determined such an amount by April 20, 1940. In this connection, it is understood from statements made by the Mexican Ambassador to the Under Secretary of State on November 24, 1939,12 that the Mexican Government has already made certain tentative estimates of the amounts involved in the claims; it is therefore hoped that on the basis of the data available to it, which it is understood include the records and surveys in connection [Page 956] with the actual expropriations, the Mexican Government would be able promptly to determine the amount which it would propose as adequate to compensate the American claimants. In view of the knowledge it is presumed each Commissioner already has of the essential facts of each case, it is thought that this procedure would serve to avoid delay and unnecessary discussion or consideration of technicalities or details.

As soon as the two Governments reach independent conclusions as to the amounts involved, negotiations should be undertaken, preferably not later than April 30, 1940, to determine whether the difference, if any, between the two amounts so determined can be reconciled satisfactorily to both Governments and a global settlement reached.

If, as is hoped, such a global settlement of pending claims under the November 9–12, 1938 arrangement can be reached, a written agreement should be made setting forth the total amount to be paid by the Mexican Government and the amount (not less than one million dollars) to be paid annually.

The written agreement should also provide that the amount agreed upon is in full payment of all claims which have been properly filed by American citizens with the American Section of the Agrarian Claims Commission and of which informal “notices” have been supplied to the Mexican Section. In this respect it is understood that upon examination by the American Section a number of claims appear to be outside the Commission’s jurisdiction under the November 9–12, 1938 agreement. Since such claims should be excluded from any global settlement under that agreement it would seem proper to request the two Commissioners to take such steps as they may deem appropriate to eliminate them from consideration in connection with the proposed settlement. It would be understood, of course, that in suggesting the elimination of claims of this nature this Government would reserve any right to present them as diplomatic claims.

The written agreement regarding a global settlement of claims now before the Agrarian Claims Commission should also include adequate provision for payment of compensation in the so-called “new cases”, i. e., those which could not be presented to the Commission, because they arose at such a late date that it was impossible or impracticable for the owners to file claims on or before July 31, 1939, or because they have arisen since that date.

It would seem that these “new cases” of the two categories mentioned above should be examined by the two Governments, preferably by the two Commissioners designated under the November 9–12, 1938 agreement, with the view of reaching a separate agreement regarding the values involved and cash settlement in full. As a practical matter this Government would consent to this procedure despite a strong [Page 957] conviction that at least in some instances “new cases”13 have arisen in violation of the assurances given at the time and as a part of the November 9–12, 1938 agreement.

It will be expected, however, that as from today there will be full and adequate payment in cash prior to the expropriation or occupation of any further American owned lands.

  1. Ibid., 1939, vol. v, p. 660.
  2. Several cases of expropriation or threatened expropriation without prior payment were under discussion with the Mexican Government during 1940. Correspondence regarding these individual cases is not printed.