711.1216A/2617: Telegram

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

1192. To Duggan from Bursley. Reference your letter December 8.84 At the meeting today with Fernández MacGregor, Enríquez85 and Hernández86 they laid great stress on importance to the two countries of prompt resolution of the international water problem with particular reference to the example it would set to the world.

They advanced the idea that Mexico would not insist upon a guarantee of a minimum amount of water annually if this would facilitate the Department’s negotiations with the Basin States. They stated, however, that this would be conditioned upon the adoption of a strict percentage basis for the allocation of waters, also without any maximum limitation. They said they thought that any deliveries in excess of 2 million acre feet under this arrangement would probably consist only of water which could not be used in the United States otherwise than on a transitory basis. In very tentative way they suggested 12½ percent for Mexico of discharges from Boulder Dam stating also that in dry years it would be very expensive and difficult for the United States to live up to any minimum quantitative guarantee.

Fernández MacGregor is here for two purposes, one, to assist in drafting of reply to Department’s latest memorandum87 and, two, with a thought that Lawson might be brought here for definitive conversations.

I think I shall be able to manage at least to go over with the Mexican officials their draft of reply.

Although I had not yet received your letter of December 8 I gave no encouragement to the idea of having any definitive negotiations here at this time pointing out (a) that the Department was doing all that it could to reach a satisfactory arrangement with the Basin States which would have some chance of prospering in treaty form and (b) that since this question from its inception had been handled by the United States and Mexican authorities in the United States it seemed better to continue that procedure. I made it clear, however, that I would be available at any time for friendly and informal conversations.

I again sought to convey desirability of some recession by Mexico from 2 million demand with object of facilitating negotiations with the basin people.

[Page 565]

It was perfectly clear to the Mexican officials that I had absolutely no instructions and except for a desire to be cooperative had no desire to take over any functions which did not appertain to me.

All of these conversations have been on a very cordial basis but without any commitment on either side.

In reverting to the importance of a prompt solution Enríquez said that he regarded draft this matter as far more important than the Chamizal question.88

He also said that he had some information regarding international water agreements in South America which he would furnish me.

Since Fernández MacGregor desires to return to El Paso promptly unless there are to be negotiations here I shall inform him in a few days in the absence of instructions to the contrary that the Department and the Embassy appreciate the desire of the Mexican Government to expedite an agreement but the studies and negotiations now proceeding in the United States have not yet reached a point where any action here is practicable. I shall also like to be able to say that while Lawson will continue to consult frankly and freely with Fernández MacGregor the Department would prefer to continue along present lines of procedure at least until such time as they may prove unfruitful which is not anticipated. [Bursley.]

Messersmith
  1. Not printed.
  2. Ernesto Enrquez, Chief of the Legal and Advisory Department, Mexican Foreign Office.
  3. Lorenzo L. Hernndez, Mexican Foreign Office water and boundary expert.
  4. Apparently reference is to the memorandum handed to the Mexican Ambassador by Mr. Duggan on November 4, 1942, supra.
  5. Dispute over a tract of land at El Paso, Texas, subject to arbitration in 1911; see Foreign Relations, 1911, pp. 565 ff. See also ibid., 1933, vol. v, pp. 823824, and ibid., 1934, vol. v, pp. 477 ff.