Memorandum by Mr. John W. Carrigan of the Division of Mexican Affairs to the Chief of the Division ( McGurk )

Mr. McGurk: Colonel Johnson telephoned this morning and, referring to the railway car situation in Mexico, he said that matters were continuing to get worse. He said that he was trying his very best to hold off any action, but he said that he wanted us to know that he was just about “driven to the wall”. He said that he wanted us to know that he was “very uneasy” and he recalled that his promise had been that he would hold off provided that an immediate improvement be shown, and provided that the situation continued to better itself. He said no immediate improvement was shown, but rather the very reverse. He said that “except for my high consideration for Ambassador Messersmith and the State Department, I would have clamped the embargo down on them ten days ago.” …

I told the Colonel that we had communicated his conversation of the other day to the Ambassador, and that both the Ambassador and we were very anxious to see that President Avila Camacho’s decree of March 9 had a fair and adequate opportunity to work itself out. He said that he wanted to give the decree an opportunity to work out also, but that he was really in a position such that he could not continue to hold off.

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I also told him that I believed that the reason wheat movements to Manzanillo had a very definite effect on the railway car situation, in [was] that, driven by the necessity of unloading the vessels as rapidly as possible, the Mexicans undoubtedly had had to concentrate an abnormal quantity of motive power and rolling stock in the Manzanillo area. I said that I would of course appreciate the advantage of this Australian wheat transaction since it meant a tremendous decrease in the amount of wheat we would otherwise have to haul across our own country. He said that he felt that this was an excellent reason, but that he also felt it was exceedingly unfortunate that when reasons as good as this existed the Mexicans did not take time out to tell us about them. He said that, in any event, this movement of Australian wheat could not account for the continued increase in cars moved into Mexico, and could not justify the continued decrease in cars coming back. He said that the Australian wheat movement was certainly a matter which should be taken into consideration.

He then emphasized once again that he was doing his best to avoid any adverse action, and that the reason that he was doing this was because of his high regard for the Ambassador and his desire to cooperate with the Department of State, but he also emphasized that his responsibilities and duties were such that his position of cooperation was becoming entirely untenable.4

John Willard Carrigan
  1. As a result of this conversation, telephone contact was made the same day with Ambassador Messersmith in Mexico, after which a letter of the same date (not printed), signed by Secretary Hull, was sent to Commissioner Johnson requesting the avoidance of any early action restricting rail traffic into Mexico (812.77/1950).