312.0022/1: Telegram

The Ambassador in Mexico (Daniels) to the Secretary of State

315. The Minister from Colombia99 called at the Embassy September 5 and suggested that as Dean of the Diplomatic Corps I call a meeting of the chiefs of missions with reference to affording asylum. He said that a few nights before about midnight two Mexicans who said they were supporters of Almazán1 called at the Legation and requested asylum because as they alleged they feared their lives were in danger. He received them and they are still there. He requested that I call a meeting of the heads of missions to have a cordial talk about what should be done in applications of this character and he thought there ought to be an agreement as to the course to pursue. I told him that my country had not ratified the Treaty of Habana with reference to asylum2 and its policy was not similar to those countries which, like his own, had ratified the Habana Treaty, and that perhaps the policy of other countries having representatives here was different from that of those countries which had ratified the Habana Treaty. He said he was aware of that but inasmuch as most Pan American countries had ratified the Treaty he wished me to call a meeting for “a cordial discussion”. I told him I would give his suggestion consideration. Just upon leaving he handed me a signed paper which he called a memorandum reading in translation as follows:

  • “First—that there be convoked the members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to Mexico by the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps so [Page 1066]that resolutions may be taken regarding the question of asylum in conformity with the convention on this matter subscribed in Habana, Cuba by the plenipotentiaries of the countries of America on February 20, 1928.
  • Second—that there may be considered in that same meeting the concrete case concerning the question of asylum that will be presented by the Colombian Minister.”

Today when I saw him I suggested to him that the wiser action would be for the diplomats whose countries were parties to the Treaty to discuss the matter among themselves. That I hesitated to call a meeting about a matter in which I could not act except in accord with the policy of my country which was very different from his country’s policy. He insisted that even if I could take no part and others might be in somewhat similar position I, as Dean, should call the meeting which would be informal. I expressed the view that because of the difficult situation I could see no good in a meeting. He strongly insisted that as Dean, I make the call. I told him that while feeling that any meeting should be confined to countries that had signed the treaty, I would be glad to see him again Monday afternoon. He stated that he had received word from his Government approving what he had done and instructing him to consult his colleagues.

I wish to be advised what is the Department’s policy in this respect—should I as Dean call the meeting for the purpose outlined by the Colombian Minister? My opinion is that the press would broadcast such a meeting (and it could not be kept confidential) as indicative of the belief that Mexico was in immediate danger of revolution and that the diplomats were taking this action because they feared serious trouble was near. I do not entertain that opinion and feel our representative here should not give room for the press to convey such an impression. If a revolution should come, the policy of our Government as I understand it is that our Embassy should not give asylum to any Mexican unless he were pursued by a mob which endangered his life and then only until he could be delivered to the Mexican authorities.

The Colombian Minister told me that when he gave asylum to these two Mexicans who told him they were in danger he sent a communication to the Foreign Office here informing the Minister of his action. He said his communication had not been answered but that the Mexican Minister in Colombia had related the incident to the Foreign Office there and assured the Colombian Government that there was no ground for the fears of the Mexicans who had asked asylum or any one else in Mexico. The Colombian Minister here was evidently aggrieved that the matter had not been taken up with him by General Hay3 instead of Colombian Foreign Office. I inquired if he would [Page 1067]like me to take the matter up with General Hay. He said “no” he would not like General Hay to be informed that he thought Hay had done wrong.

I am informed that when the Minister for Uruguay4 at the Cuban Ambassador’s was talking to President Cárdenas some one asked the Uruguayan what he would do if “Mexican reactionaries” asked asylum. The Uruguayan made his reply direct to the President stating that as the Mexican Government had assured protection for everybody there would be no need for granting any asylum and that it would not be granted at his Legation.

The Bolivian Ambassador5 has taken the position that if any chief of mission requested the Dean to call a meeting of the Corps he had no option but to do so. On this point I would appreciate your telegraphic advice in the light of the experience of other American missions elsewhere so that I may have it as early as possible on September 9. There appears to be no local practice on this point.

My opinion is that if I call a meeting of Corps as suggested the newspapers will carry a sensational story that conditions are so bad here that the whole Diplomatic Corps feels it necessary to prepare for a serious situation which will protect supporters of Almazán whose lives may be in danger by action of the Mexican authorities. No such condition exists here now and this call would be represented to the world as an impression of a situation in Mexico not justified by the facts. It will be helpful to have your instructions before I see the Colombian Minister at 4 o’clock Monday afternoon.

Daniels
  1. Jorge Zawadsky.
  2. General Almazán, unsuccessful candidate in the Mexican presidential elections.
  3. Signed February 20, 1928; for text, see Sixth International Conference of American States, Habana, 1928, Final Act and Report of the Delegates of the United States of America to the Sixth International Conference of American States.
  4. Eduardo Hay, Mexican Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  5. Hugo V. de Pena.
  6. Enrique Finot.