The Chief of the Inland Traffic Section of the Foreign Economic Administration ( Brown ) to Mr. William G. MacLean of the Division of Mexican Affairs
Dear Mr. MacLean: Our conversations during the past few days with particular reference to furnishing empty cars in Mexico for loading strategic materials to USA in continued support of the war effort. We understand that Colonel Johnson has agreed to substitute December 31 for December 1 as the date on which the NdeM will have reduced to approximately 6,000 (unless this figure is revised) the number of foreign owned freight cars in Mexico.
The responsibility is on FEA to procure abroad and obtain delivery of critical materials. Efforts to accomplish this on materials from Mexico have not been wholly satisfactory or successful, owing in large part to lack of adequate freight car supply regularly as needed. This material invariably moves from Mexico in freight cars of American ownership which for the most part move underload into Mexico. The NdeM have always indicated to FEA a willingness to furnish these cars for our strategic materials but at various times have been reluctant, in fact declined to do so owing to pressure from Washington to return American owned cars to this country where they are badly needed. The number of such cars now in Mexico totals about 8,000 whereas at least a good many of the transportation experts feel 6,000 is sufficient; and the NdeM has been requested to reach the latter figure by December 31.[Page 1272]
As result of continued requests, particularly by Colonel Johnson on the NdeM to expedite return of American cars from Mexico, the NdeM has by-passed our strategic materials even to the extent of moving cars empty directly from stations where our materials are located. This happened the latter part of October and again the latter part of November in spite of our plea to the NdeM to furnish these cars and in spite of numerous advices from Mr. Arnett that while the AAR was extremely anxious to have cars returned they preferred to have them loaded with strategic materials for this country rather than be returned empty.
As late as November 29 Sr. Belaunzaran, Ass’t General Manager In Chargé of Operations of the NdeM informed our Mr. Scanlan owing to telegram of November 28 from Colonel Johnson that the NdeM felt that they must return cars empty and could not furnish them for loading of our materials. In this connection you will recall that during our several meetings with ODT–AAR Colonel Johnson repeatedly stated that it was not his purpose to in any way disrupt or interfere with the movement of traffic where, as he put it, a national interest is involved, this being in response to our request that cars be furnished for shipments whether to Mexico or from Mexico to implement our program in the war effort. Apparently the NdeM executives do not fully understand this or at least feel that subsequent advices from Colonel Johnson do not permit them to furnish cars for loading our northbound strategic materials.
For your ready convenience a statement33 is attached which shows the backlog of strategic metals and minerals (measured in terms of carloads of 50 tons each) from our principal suppliers in Mexico. You will note the total is approximately 1,077 carloads. The traffic manager of the American Metal Company was here again this week and we jointly conferred with Mr. Arnett regarding the prompt furnishing of cars for loading to USA destinations. The General Traffic Manager of American Smelting & Refining Company was also here two weeks ago and has regularly communicated with us by telephone to obtain adequate car supply for shipping our materials from Mexico to this country. The Fresnillo Company have also conferred with us from time to time in an effort to obtain adequate car supply which is true also of some of our other larger suppliers such as Eagle-Picher and W. R. Grace & Company.
The other part of the statement shows the actual carload shipped during a 6 month period from May through October of this year, delivered by the NdeM to the American railroads at the Texas border crossings. During that time our strategic materials totalled 9,351 [Page 1273] cars which amounted to 67.9% of all carload traffic delivered by the NdeM to the American railroads at the Texas border. In addition to our strategic materials there is a substantial movement of other commodities necessary to our domestic economy including for example coffee and live stock and other articles of foodstuffs.
This statement demonstrates more than words the necessity of adequate car supply in Mexico if we expect to obtain the strategic materials required.
Regardless of what decision is finally reached as to the maximum number of American cars to be used in Mexico, we think it highly important that the NdeM be assured or reassured that it will be satisfactory and that they are urged to furnish cars for loading our northbound critical materials in lieu of sending the cars empty across the border. Any arrangements you can make in this respect will be of inestimable value not only as concerns insuring an adequate supply of raw materials for industry producing war materials in this country, but also to our suppliers in Mexico to lessen their burden and anxiety in respect of obtaining adequate car supply.
Very truly yours,
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