812.52 Agrarian Commission/191

Memorandum by the American Commissioner, Agrarian Claims Commission (Lawson), to the Acting Secretary of State

The exchange of notes of November 9–12, 1938, establishing the joint Agrarian Claims Commission, afforded the first opportunity for American citizens to present detailed statements of their losses resulting from seizures of property under the agrarian laws of Mexico subsequent to August 30, 1927. On July 31, 1939, the final date for filing claims, a total of 350 claims had been presented.

The claimed amounts involved in the 350 claims totaled approximately $75,200,000 United States currency. For reasons which have been previously indicated, 90 of these claims have been eliminated from consideration for purposes of the proposed en bloc settlement, although it is recommended that rights be reserved to present them as diplomatic claims.

The remaining 260 claims involve the seizure of approximately 4,780,000 acres (about 1,935,000 hectares) of land, with claimed losses of approximately $56,800,000 United States currency. These 260 claims have been carefully examined and investigated by the American Section to determine impartially the reasonable amounts involved. [Page 968] In this connection I may say that in the consideration of individual claims the emphasis of the American Section has been to determine the going values in Mexican currency of the affected property on the date of expropriation, and to convert these amounts into United States currency, at the official rate of exchange on that date.

As the result of its appraisal, the American Section has determined that reasonable values involved in the 260 claims in question total $22,902,138 United States currency. Of this total, $22,565,367 represents the value of the approximately 4,780,000 acres of expropriated land and facilities inherent therein, and the remainder,—$336,771 or about 1.5 percent of the total,—represents other damages and losses such as permanent improvements, personal property, severance losses on remaining property, et cetera, suffered by the claimants as the result of the expropriations of their land.

The seizure of land upon which these claims are based occurred during a period of about twelve years from August 31, 1927 to July 31, 1939. The above-given appraisal figure does not include interest which in many cases covers a number of years. However, computations have been made and are available from which interest accruing in individual cases can readily be calculated.

Lawrence M. Lawson