The Ambassador in Mexico (Messersmith) to the Assistant Chief of the Division of Mexican Affairs (Carrigan)


Dear Carrigan: …

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… Personally I do not see any use for keeping the embargo in effect in any form now that we have the movement of cars north going forward in such volume and regularly.

Of course I know that Colonel Johnson thinks that this movement of cars north in better volume than for some time is due to his having put a scare into the Mexicans. He is utterly wrong about this. The [Page 1251] increase in cars here above the 5,000–6,000 level, which we had been able to maintain, was entirely due to the grain movement, and the corn movement and this extra volume in Mexico is something which should have been reduced gradually and it would have been reduced gradually. As I pointed out in a previous/letter, the emergency steps which are being taken to get cars back in this precipitated fashion are not good practice but the one ameliorating factor in the situation is that due to the mining strike the smelters have not been operating for some time nor the mines. The miners are now operating again but the smelters are not yet operating as the strikes in the American Smelting & Refining smelters are not yet settled. The need for cars for the movement of minerals and metals therefore recently has been somewhat less so that the precipitated movement north of empty American cars is not as serious as it might have been so far as the internal economy is concerned.

We have to reckon with the fact, however, that these cargoes of wheat from Australia and corn from the Argentine are beginning to arrive and it is simply necessary for the Mexicans to use some American cars for this movement or the ships cannot be turned around fast enough. The Mexicans have enough cars for ordinary movement but all these things are extra movement placed on the Mexican railways in addition to the burden which they carried before the war and of course they have not been able to get any new equipment since the war. The only thing they have had in the way of cars is some gondolas which they should never have bought anyway and for which they were rooked because most of them were of no use at all.

One of the things which the American Railways and which the Office of Defense Transportation does not understand adequately is that before the war Mexico had these sea services to the east and west coast as well as better coastwise service and this greatly reduced the burden on the railways. Another thing they forget is that in addition to this volume formerly carried by sea between the United States and Mexico, the railways are obliged to carry a very considerable increased volume of freight due to the development in the economy of Mexico and the increase in our trade. Another thing that some of our people, certainly not in the Department, have been disregarding is that the Mexicans simply do not have enough cars of their own to carry the volume of goods they have to carry and which we want them to carry. They won’t be able to get any new cars, which they are quite ready to purchase, until the end of the war so we have to reckon with a certain use of railway cars of ours by Mexico during the war.

The important thing is to keep that use to a minimum and of course just as the Mexican Railways are inefficient in other ways, they are [Page 1252] naturally inefficient in this but we are getting progress and the situation is better already and I am sure will continue to get better.

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The movement of empty cars north is proceeding satisfactorily and I will keep you currently informed of developments.

With all good wishes,

Cordially and sincerely yours,

G. S. Messersmith