The Deputy Director of the Office of American Republic Affairs (Bonsal) to the Director of the Office (Duggan)

Dear Larry: During the course of my stay in Mexico50 I had a number of conversations with the Ambassador, with Tom Lockett and with my brother51 regarding the Mexico-United States Economic Commission. These conversations have covered a very wide range of matters, both theoretical and practical, in connection with the Commission. I am summarizing below what I understand to be the conclusions which have been reached, and I am showing this letter to the Ambassador before sending it:

It is important that the favorable position taken by the Department, the WPB and the FEA with regard to the so-called Minimum Program for 1944 be maintained and strengthened.
Under present circumstances it is important that the Mexicans continue to feel that we regard the Commission with favor and that we are disposed to extend cooperation, within the limits of our own situation, to Mexican industrial projects which appear economically sound. It would be highly undesirable for the doubts which have been expressed by certain persons in the Department as to the desirability of continuing the Commission to become known to the Mexicans. (I myself believe that, while a good case on certain grounds could be made out for dropping the Commission on the basis that it has fulfilled the function for which it was created, such a step would be disastrous at this time in view of the general feeling of doubt here as to our future policy.)
It is important that the Commission not submit for the approval and support of the Department and of other agencies in Washington any projects or programs which might conflict with the general commercial policy of the United States (i.e., lowering of trade barriers) or which might give rise to controversy in this connection. In consequence it appears advisable for the Commission, acting as a joint inter-governmental body, merely to present specific projects which appear to be good prospects of getting through the Washington machinery within the immediate or relatively near future, avoiding the presentation of broad or long-range industrial projects. This does not mean that it would not be desirable for Mexico to have a long-range industrial program. The drawing up of such a program, however, should primarily be the responsibility of the Mexican Government, acting, if it desires to do so, through the Mexican section of the Commission and using such technical aid as the American section may wish to furnish. However, the American section, representing as it does the Government of the United States, should not be asked to approve such a broad program nor should it present such a program for the approval of the State Department and of other agencies in Washington.

[Page 1207]

The Ambassador has some reservations regarding numbered paragraph 3 above. However, I thought I was able to give him a sufficiently good picture of the practical situation in Washington so that he will exert his influence in the direction of preventing the Commission from pushing plans or programs which are apt to get bogged down in theoretical controversies at home.

With warm regards,

Sincerely yours,

  1. Mr. Bonsal arrived in Mexico April 13, 1944, on the first stage of a visit to several Central and South American Republics.
  2. Dudley B. Bonsal.