The Ambassador in Mexico ( Messersmith ) to the Acting Deputy Director of the Office of American Republic Affairs ( McGurk )

Dear Joe: I have to refer to your telephone conversation of August 8, during the course of which you stated that Colonel Johnson of the ODT and the officials of the AAR had expressed a desire that Mr. Ortiz, the General Manager of the Mexican National Lines, and one or more of his technical assistants come to Washington to discuss the question of car loading restrictions in order to endeavor to arrive at a resolution of this vexing and important problem. I also have to refer to my letter of August 824 in which I wrote you that I would endeavor to see Mr. Ortiz about this matter immediately.

I also have to refer to your letter of August 7 in which you refer to my letter of July 29, and previous correspondence, with regard to the regulations for American freight cars going to Mexico. I note that copies of this letter were furnished to Colonel Johnson and to Mr. Buford.

I have read with interest your letter of August 7, and its enclosures, and I note therefrom that Colonel Johnson states that it would not be possible for him to come to Mexico and that he makes the suggestion that Mr. Ortiz and one or more of his technical assistants come to Washington to discuss this matter.

Mr. Ortiz of the Mexican National Lines has been exceedingly occupied the last few days with very important administrative details affecting the railways, and I have not been able to see him. In any event, as it involved Mr. Ortiz going to Washington, I thought it best to take up this matter with the Minister for Foreign Affairs who has shown such a continuously helpful and constructive interest [Page 1262] in this matter. During a conversation with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Padilla, this morning I stated to him that my recommendation that the car loading restrictions be lifted entirely had been considered by the Department, by the ODT and by AAR, and that the ODT and AAR were of the opinion that if these restrictions were lifted entirely there would be a repetition of the situation which is now being gradually corrected. I said that there was an enormous volume of freight for Mexico in the United States awaiting shipment and that if the loading restrictions were removed there would, in the opinion of the ODT and AAR, be such a movement of cars that the Mexican National Lines would not be able to cope with it.

I said that the ODT and AAR did not like this position that they were in of determining what freight should be loaded for Mexico, when freight could not move freely, as they realized that this involved undertaking functions, so far as selection of cargo is concerned, by the Mexican authorities. I said, however, that there was such a volume of freight moving in the United States that just as there were car loading restrictions for Mexico, there were car loading restrictions which affected the internal movement of freight in the United States. I said that as long as the volume of cargo within the United States and for Mexico was so considerable, certain car loading restrictions seemed to be inevitable. The question, therefore, was to determine what type of restrictions would be the most effective, and at the same time, least obnoxious and least disturbing to the internal economy of Mexico.

I said to the Minister that it was the desire of Colonel Johnson and of the AAR that Mr. Ortiz make a trip to Washington as soon as possible, accompanied by one or two of his technical assistants, in view of the fact that Colonel Johnson could not come to Mexico on account of his occupations. I said that this would give an opportunity for Mr. Ortiz and his assistants and for ODT and AAR to sit down together and to arrive at an arrangement with respect to car movements and loadings, which it was to be hoped would be mutually satisfactory and helpful. I said that one of the things which ODT and AAR had in mind was that a competent official of the Mexican National Lines should be in Washington in constant and direct contact with ODT and AAR with respect to car loadings, as in this way the desires of the Mexican Government and of the Mexican Lines, and the needs of the Mexican economy, could be more effectively met.

I expressed the hope that Mr. Ortiz and one or more of his assistants would be able to proceed to Washington in the very near future.

Dr. Padilla was obviously disappointed that the car loading restrictions could not be removed completely at once. He said that he would immediately take up this matter with Mr. Ortiz to the end that he go [Page 1263] to Washington without delay. In view of the fact that the President of Mexico is so intimately interested in this matter of the railways, because of its effects on the Mexican economy, and in view of the fact that the Minister was seeing the President this afternoon, I think Dr. Padilla will also take up with the President the question of Mr. Ortiz going to Washington in the very near future.

I think I should say that just as it is difficult for Colonel Johnson, with his very broad obligations, to leave Washington to come to Mexico, so it is difficult for Mr. Ortiz, even with his much narrower obligations in Mexico, to leave here for a few days for this trip to Washington, but I am sure that in view of the importance of the matter, and the obvious necessity for such a conference in view of our indications with respect thereto, that he will proceed to Washington in the very near future.

I will keep you informed as to developments.

With all good wishes,

Cordially and sincerely yours,

George S. Messersmith

P.S. I am sending you this letter in quadruplicate in case you wish to send a copy each to Colonel Johnson and Mr. Buford.

  1. Not printed; this letter transmitted a memorandum of the above-mentioned telephone conversation on the morning of August 8.