The Chief of the Division of Mexican Affairs (Carrigan) to the Ambassador in Mexico (Messersmith)
Dear Mr. Ambassador: Much as I dislike to add to the problems which are demanding your attention, I believe you should be informed of the latest development in the matter of the movement of American freight cars into Mexico. This letter will also confirm the information on the subject given to Mr. Bursley by Mr. MacLean by long-distance telephone today.
Colonel Johnson of the Office of Defense Transportation telephoned MacLean late yesterday that there had been a loss of three hundred American freight cars into Mexico in the preceding days and that would mean a definite failure on the part of the Mexicans to meet the December 1 “dead line”, by which they were to have the American cars there reduced to six thousand. He interpreted the situation to indicate that they were not taking the matter sufficiently seriously [Page 1270] and stated that he would have to take definite action on December 1 to bring about the favorable balance desired. He first mentioned an order requiring a return of more than one car from Mexico for every car going in, but later, after MacLean had set forth the many considerations which must be kept in mind, showed some inclination to limit action to demanding the return of one car for every car going in. He pointed out that there had been much more leniency shown to Mexico in regard to the car situation than was shown to railroads in the United States, which were required to comply very strictly to the terms of embargo or regulating orders.
We are of course prepared to discuss this matter further with Colonel Johnson and to urge upon him the undesirability of precipitant action. However, I thought you should be informed of the situation, and you may wish to comment thereon or to discuss this serious situation with appropriate Mexican authorities.
P. S. Since writing the above, we have received the following information, which indicates a few of the many complications involved in this movement of freight cars:
During the period from November 8 to 15 inclusive, the cars sent into Mexico exceeded those returned to the United States by an average of 44 cars daily. During the period from November 16 to 23 inclusive, the average daily loss was 34 cars.
You will recall that the Mexicans had requested 40 grain cars a day and the American Association of Railways was meeting this request, with the result that during the first quincena of November there was an average daily pile-up of 196 grain cars at the border while the Mexicans would accept apparently only 18 grain cars a day. Grain loadings were then completely suspended on November 15 with the idea of reducing the backlog of cars at the border. Now only 13 cars a day are being loaded under permit, but the daily average of grain cars left at the border awaiting acceptance by the Mexican railroads is 124. During the first period under reference, the daily pile-up of freight cars of all kinds averaged 348 as compared to 315 since that time. This situation is very disturbing to the Railway Association, but they have agreed to keep loading permits slightly in excess of the receipts, especially as to grain and other foodstuffs, so that it will be entirely clear that any failure of supply in Mexico is due to the deficiencies of the Mexican operation and not to withholding in this country.
I have just read again the last sentence of the above letter and perhaps I have not made it clear that we are prepared to follow this matter through, as the time element requires, and will of course do so.