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

No. 21,390

Sir: I have the honor to place before the Department for its consideration a matter of prime importance to the success of the Mexican-American Commission for Economic Cooperation and which will determine in a large measure whether or not the Mexicans will judge the Commission as a success or a partial failure. At a time when the work of the Commission is on the verge of drawing to a close, it would be very unfortunate for us to permit the failure to grant two priorities on Commission projects to deprive us of the good will and real benefits of the effective work which has been done by the Commission.

The Department is quite familiar with the procedure of the Commission which established the Minimum Program for 1944 containing twenty-one projects. This program was approved by the Department, the War Production Board and the Foreign Economic Administration. The authorities of these departments are to be very highly complimented on the effective cooperation which they have given the Commission and which allowed all 1944 Minimum Program projects to receive satisfactory priorities with the exception of two. These two exceptions are the Celanese and Jorge Luis Baz Textile projects, and they are both extremely important from the Mexican point of view. Earlier in the year the War Production Board indicated that it would probably be in position to rate the two projects in September of this year, but as that was not done, they have remained pending.

[Page 1211]

In the meantime, word has been received by the Embassy and the Commission of the new policy of the War Production Board whereby projects not directly connected with the war effort will not be considered for priorities. As a result, Celanese and Baz still remain without priorities, and the Mexican importers have been advised to place their unrated orders with United States manufacturers on the best possible commercial basis. In the case of the Baz Textile project, the owner was informed by the manufacturers of textile machinery that delivery could not be expected before late 1945 or early 1946 because the backlog of priority orders and unrated orders would not permit earlier despatch.

The Resident Commissioner of the Mexican-American Commission for Economic Cooperation is writing a report to the two Washington Commissioners, wherein he recommends, after full consultation with and approval of the Ambassador, and Mr. Machold, the resident representative of Messrs. Rockefeller and Taylor, that the work of the Commission be terminated and the Commission itself dissolved after a report of its activities has been prepared and submitted to the two Presidents. This recommendation is being made because the Mexican members of the Commission have from the beginning viewed the effectiveness of the Commission by its success in securing licenses and priorities for Mexican importers. The Ambassador, the Mexican Commissioners, Mr. Machold, as representative of the Washington Commissioners, and the Commissioner resident in Mexico fully realize that the new policy of the War Production Board in not rating projects not directly connected with the war effort will eliminate practical assistance which might be given by the Commission to Mexican importers and, therefore, the Mexicans will sidestep the Commission and go direct to United States manufacturers.

Under the circumstances, the Ambassador, the Mexican Commissioners, Mr. Machold and the Resident Commissioner have reached the conclusion that it would be better to terminate the activities of the Commission after delivery of the report of its accomplishments to the two Presidents. The President of the Commission, Licenciado Primo Villa Michel, is now conferring with the President of the Republic and the Foreign Minister in order to make the foregoing suggestion to them. But, the principal accomplishment of the Commission is the 1944 Minimum Program, and the Commission feels that its responsibilities under that program will not be fulfilled until the two remaining projects are given a priority rating by the War Production Board. The President of the Republic has talked to the Ambassador on several occasions concerning his interest in the Celanese project. His interest in it is not personal, but due to his belief that Mexico urgently heeds such an industry. There are prominent industrialists and government [Page 1212] officials who are personal investors in the project and, therefore, the failure to receive a priority would destroy much of the good will which has been created by the Commission. The Baz Textile project is somewhat in the same status, and the reaction against the Commission would be quite strong if we should fail to rate this and the Celanese projects.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Therefore, the Department is urgently requested to use its full weight and influence with the War Production Board in order that the two remaining projects of the 1944 Minimum Program may receive a priority rating from the War Production Board. Such action would permit the Commission to make its report to the two Presidents on the basis that its primary work had been successfully completed with every project in the Minimum Program having received a favorable priority. This announcement will make a favorable and lasting impression upon the Mexican people and permit the United States to receive the credit and good will which it deserves through a fuller appreciation and understanding by the Mexican people of the accomplishments of the Commission. The Mexican Commissioners and Government officials, including the President of the Republic, feel that the Commission has been a success. Their prime interest has rested in the completion of the 1944 Minimum Program. After all the work and effort which our Government has given to this Commission, we should not be robbed of its richest fruits by our failure to give priorities to the two remaining projects of the 1944 Minimum Program, the Celanese and the Baz Textile projects. It would not be keeping the faith with the two Presidents if everything possible is not done to bring the work of the Commission to the most successful and beneficial conclusion possible. Under the circumstances, the Department is asked to lend its most potent assistance in aiding the Commission to obtain the two priorities in question and, thus, conclude successfully its work.56

Respectfully yours,

For the Ambassador:
Thomas H. Lockett

Counselor of Embassy
for Economic Affairs
  1. In a letter of December 6, 1944, the Secretary of State requested supply assistance from the War Production Board for the Celanese and the Baz Textile projects. In his reply of December 28, Mr. J. A. Krug, Chairman, War Production Board, explained to the Secretary of State his inability to assign priority ratings to these two projects, but assured him that efforts were being made through textile manufacturers to give these requests special preference among unrated orders. (812.24/12–2844).

    For the concluding exchange of letters concerning the Commission between Presidents Roosevelt and Avila Camacho, both dated January 20, 1945, and for text of the final report of the Commission, dated January 1945, see Department of State Bulletin, February 4, 1945, pp. 155 ff.