812.52 Agrarian Commission/137

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Under Secretary of State (Welles)

The Mexican Ambassador called to see me today at my request. I handed him the aide-mémoire of today’s date64 with regard to the Agrarian Commission and a suggested solution of the agrarian claims question. The Ambassador said that he would give this memorandum his immediate attention and would do what was possible to expedite a decision.

I asked the Ambassador what reaction he had received with regard to the note proposing arbitration of the oil controversy and solutions of the other pending problems between Mexico and the United States. The Ambassador stated that tremendous agitation had been created in Mexico as a result of the sending of this note. He said that a false report published in the press to the effect that Mexico was purchasing eight million dollars worth of arms in this country had been exploited in Mexico as meaning that the note of the United States Government contained in it a threat of armed intervention in Mexico. He said [Page 1015] that Lombardo Toledano65 had arranged for the declaration of two holidays on April 11 and 12 so that labor demonstrations and popular manifestations in support of the position taken by the Government and in opposition to the United States might be held. He expressed the belief that the situation was really very serious.

I asked the Ambassador why a constructive, friendly and courteously worded note on the part of this Government, calling attention to the just grievances of our citizens and proposing an impartial arbitration of one of the pending controversies between the two Governments, should be regarded as aggressive. The Ambassador merely replied that Mexico had no faith in arbitration as a result of past experience. I inquired, if that was the case, why Mexico at every inter-American conference always took the lead in espousing the cause of obligatory arbitration, but to this he had no reply to make.

The Ambassador told me that various Latin American representatives in Mexico City had come to the Mexican Foreign Office to tender the good offices of their governments in the dispute between the two countries. I said to the Ambassador that this was the first time I had ever heard of good offices being tendered when one country proposed to another a solution of their dispute by recourse to friendly and impartial arbitration.

I stated that in view of what the Ambassador said, I felt there was no reason to delay, and every reason to expedite, publication of the text of our note to Mexico. The Ambassador said that he fully agreed with me and that he would so recommend to President Cárdenas in a conversation which he intended to hold with him this evening on the telephone. I stated that publication, as I had told him when I handed him the note, was a matter which would have to be determined solely by this Government once the note in question had been duly received by the appropriate Mexican authorities. I said that consequently we would reserve complete liberty of action with regard to publication and that I would recommend to the Secretary of State that publication be made immediately.66 The Ambassador said that he believed this would be helpful and salutary and that he trusted the excitement would die down.

S[umner] W[elles]
  1. Ante, p. 955.
  2. Vicente Lombardo Toledano, Mexican labor leader.
  3. The note of April 3 was released to the press April 9; published in Department of State Bulletin, April 13, 1940, p. 380.