412.11 (41) Agreement/15

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Chief of the Division of the American Republics (Bursley)

Participants: The Under Secretary.
Señor Dr. Don Francisco Castillo Nájera, Mexican Ambassador.
Señor Antonio Espinosa de los Monteros, Mexican Under Secretary of Finance.
Mr. Bursley.

The Mexican Ambassador presented the attached informal statement regarding general claims,90 stating that the figures had been prepared by Licenciado Cordova of the Embassy and were at wide variance with the figures recently mentioned in the Department. Mr. Bursley said that while the figure regarding the remaining American claims appeared to be substantially correct, it was also the case that the Mexican claims consisted in large measure of Texas land claims. The Under Secretary stated that the Department had made most minute examination of the American claims and was satisfied that the figure he was about to mention in connection with the proposed settlement was a fair one.

The Under Secretary said that after the most careful consideration of all the factors involved he had reached the conclusion that Mexico should pay $40,000,000 in settlement of the claims listed in paragraph 3 of the memorandum, which he shortly thereafter handed to the Mexican Ambassador. A copy of the memorandum is attached.91 Mr. Welles said that the memorandum was substantially the same as the previous memorandum given to the Mexican Ambassador except for the mention of the specific sum of $40,000,000 and the insertion of paragraph 8, which was new.

The Mexican Ambassador, after reading the memorandum, stated that no Mexican executive could agree to paragraph 6 (b). Mr. Welles stated that the Department was not concerned with the form of the undertaking but that a binding undertaking was of the essence. The Mexican Ambassador said that he would examine the matter with a view to finding a formula to meet this condition. He said that it would have to be handled in such a way that there was no question of yielding under pressure on the part of the Mexican Government and he suggested tentatively that the incoming President of Mexico might make a statement to an American journalist stating that his policy would be in the sense of this paragraph. He had previously [Page 1052] said that adoption of the paragraph in its present form would involve changing the Mexican constitution or making a commitment not consistent with it, either of which would be unacceptable. Mr. Welles said that perhaps an interview of the character mentioned might serve the purpose if it were followed up by a note from the Mexican Ambassador based on an instruction from the President of Mexico stating that the interview represented his policy. Mr. Welles, as a personal suggestion, said that perhaps the inaugural address of the new President would be a suitable occasion for this declaration of policy, adding that the recent public declarations by General Avila Camacho had had a good press.

Mr. Espinosa de los Monteros inquired whether the $2,000,000 already paid on account of agrarian claims were to be deducted from the $40,000,000 and Mr. Welles replied that they were.

There was some discussion of paragraph 8, the Mexican Ambassador indicating some anticipations that it might not be workable. The Under Secretary said that in his opinion that plan was preferable to the other and he and the Ambassador agreed that some combination of that plan and the one outlined in paragraphs 6 (a) and 7 might be worked out.

The Ambassador said that he would give these matters further thought and an appointment was made for him to confer with the Under Secretary again on Wednesday afternoon.

Mr. Welles several times referred to the desirability of carrying out the proposed plan and twice emphasized that it was necessary to consider it as strictly confidential for the present.

  1. Not printed. The statement listed American claims of $222,929,893.84 and Mexican claims of $123,833,197.29, leaving a balance of $99,096,696.55 in favor of the United States.
  2. Supra.