Mr. Charles A. Timm of the Division of the American Republics to the Adviser on Political Relations (Duggan)

Dear Larry: I refer to your letter to me of November 10, my letter to you of November 13,70 and your telephone conversation yesterday with Joe.71

In regard to Senators Connally and Hayden,72 it would appear that, in the light of developments during the last day or two, should you have occasion to discuss the matter further with them, it might be well to suggest that the success of the negotiations is by no means assured, by reason of the fact that the Department’s representatives are determined not to accept terms that make unreasonable demands upon the United States or that go beyond the Santa Fe proposals.

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My letter to you of November 13, while not altogether optimistic in tone, was nevertheless a bit too hopeful. The reasons for this were covered by yesterday’s telephone conversation, and on that general point I should like to make a few additional comments.

The major difficulty centers, as we said yesterday, around the effort of the Mexicans to find loopholes by which they could demand virtually all of the 1,500,000 acre-feet at points above the lower boundary, thus insuring, first, that most of the allocation would be practically fresh water, and second, that in time they could be virtually assured of having the use of several hundred thousand acre-feet of usable water without charge against their allocation. This last named quantity would be available for their Sonora lands, which, we understand, may in time reach 100,000 acres in extent.

On our part, we went on the assumption that the basic point of an over-all quantity of 1,500,000 acre-feet had been accepted by the Mexicans and that this total would include water made available for them at all points. We introduced the question of the point of diversion on the lower boundary and also diversions through the All-American only in order to evidence our desire to be of such practical assistance to the Mexicans as was feasible. …

During a conference yesterday afternoon, lasting from four until six-thirty, the Mexicans (especially Orive Alba), gave further expression to their views; but they also made it clear that they were loath to break off negotiations. They proposed that we present a draft treaty and that they take this draft to Mexico City for further discussion and instructions, after which they would promptly return to El Paso. In this same conference we adopted a somewhat firmer tone in regard to our basic proposition. Also, in a few well chosen words, Joe made it abundantly clear to them that the Commissioner’s proposals represented the views of the Department. This they finally and explicitly recognized. Today we are drawing up a clear-cut statement of our position on the basic points at issue. This will be discussed with the Mexicans this afternoon at four.

Without elaborating too much, it may be that the following conclusions are warranted:

Orive Alba, or perhaps Marte Gómez, appears to be the dominant figure among the Mexicans, with the Foreign Office representatives having a less and less important role.
The Mexicans now seem to recognize that it may have been a mistake for them to attempt to bring the Ambassador into the picture. Incidentally, Joe and I do not believe that the Ambassador made the categorical statement attributed to him, that is, to the effect that Maxico would not be charged with more than 60,000 acre-feet of Yuma drain and waste water.
The Mexicans now seem to recognize that the negotiations must proceed here, even though some of them may have to make another trip to Mexico City.
There is, I believe, no reason for us to go beyond the Santa Fe proposals on any important point, or to recede in any degree from the tentative agreements regarding the Rio Grande, even if the conferences threaten, by reason of our firmness, to break up for a while with the Department having, as a result, to report failure to the Committee of Fourteen and Sixteen. I believe that the result would strengthen the department, both as against Mexico and as regards the Committee. Although it is by no means certain that the discussions will not terminate for the present, it seems clear to me that the Mexicans are very desirous of getting a treaty and that, all things considered, they need a treaty more than we do.
The threat of arbitration should not be wholly disregarded; on the other hand, it need not be taken too seriously. It is not believed that any competent, fair tribunal would give to Mexico an award more favorable than or even as favorable as our proposals. Much might depend upon the composition of the tribunal.

Sincerely yours,

Charles A. Timm
  1. Neither found in Department files.
  2. Joseph F. McGurk.
  3. Tom Connally, Senator from Texas, and Carl Hayden, Senator from Arizona.