710 Conference W and PW/2–545

The Ambassador in Mexico ( Messersmith ) to the Assistant Secretary of State ( Rockefeller )

Dear Nelson: I had a talk with Padilla on Friday evening in which we covered a number of things, and I need not tell you that Padilla is exceedingly anxious to do everything in his power to make the February meeting a success. He realizes that while some of the other countries will be making sporadic preparations, or rather, incomplete preparations, that we and Mexico are really the only two countries that will be giving considered thought to all phases of the meeting.

For this reason, he is naturally very pleased that Bohan and Sanders are here because this will be very helpful. Machold50a too is going to remain here and I think this is a good thing, and I am going to have Bohan, Sanders and Machold work as a team and with me on all matters affecting the conference.

Padilla, as you will know from my previous letters, feels so strongly that so much of the success of the meeting will depend on preparation, and there isn’t any doubt but what he and some of the people on the Mexican group are working very hard. The whole attitude of the Mexicans is that they want to work with us because they realize what responsibility rests on us in the inter-American and in the world picture. I don’t think they want to raise any question that is going to make trouble, and I think so far as possible they want to fit their attitude in with ours, to the extent that this is humanly possible, on all the major questions which will be considered.

Padilla said with regard to Dumbarton Oaks that we ought to have a very complete understanding, that is, the Department and the Ministry here, before the meeting, and if possible, well before the meeting. He says that most of the Latin American countries have very definite views with regard to Dumbarton Oaks. He says that they will want to give expression to these, although some of them have done so in memoranda. He says, as he sees it our attitude could be only one of three. We could accept these suggestions, which he doubts whether we could; we could reject them, which he doubts we should do; or we could indicate that we were taking them into account for background in connection with further conversations in the formulation of the final agreement on world security organization among the big three. He said this was a very rough way of putting it, but he said we would have to work out some way of meeting this point of view of the Latin American States with regard to the proposals as they now stand. [Page 86] The important thing is that so far as Padilla is concerned, he is ready, I believe, to accommodate the Mexican attitude into the realities of the situation and he knows enough about the big picture to know how difficult our position is and that there are certain things which we can’t say or do now, and that there are certain suggestions with which we can’t agree at this meeting, even though we might be fundamentally in accord with them. Padilla’s view I think is that the most important thing is that we have an understanding of what can be done eventually. I think he has in mind that some of these Foreign Ministers are going to be here perhaps as much as a week before the meeting, or at least three or four days before the meeting, and they will be bound to have conversations with him and perhaps with the President of Mexico,51 and he wants to be sure that before he talks with any of these people before the meeting, he will know pretty well what we have in mind, what we could go along with, and what would be constructive from our point of view.

The foregoing is a very poor way of stating this problem, but I am going to ask Sanders to write more fully on this matter. You will appreciate, however, what the situation is and what Padilla has in mind, and that all he is thinking of is to be helpful.

Similarly, Padilla says it will be very important for Mexico and us to know just what each thinks about how this Argentine question is to be handled. Padilla of course is very definitely of the opinion that it can’t come up until the very end of the meeting, if it does come up at all. He believes that there will be several countries which may try to bring it up at the beginning, but that this must be stopped at the outset. Parenthetically here I may say that I think the chances are more that Cuba will be recalcitrant than even Colombia, Venezuela or Ecuador. I think that if we are prepared to make adequate distinction between the Argentine people and the present Argentine regime, which of course we are, we can get an understanding attitude from the Colombians and Venezuelans on this matter.

Padilla is of the opinion that it will be very difficult to keep from some discussion of the Argentine question at the end of the meeting. He thinks some of the countries will be insistent on that. He doesn’t like the idea but I think he is right when he thinks it has to be done. The form he thinks should be determined by the principal delegates, if possible, very early in the session. Certainly at their first meeting they should decide that at no time during the meeting can the Argentine question be raised until the very end of the regular agenda has been disposed of. He says however he would like to know now what our own thoughts are as to how it can be handled if and when it is [Page 87] handled at the end of the meeting. His thought is that if it is handled in any way, we are going to come with such overwhelming evidence that there will be no question of an Argentine appearing because even those who may be friendly to the Argentine would realize how useless this would be. I understand that Carl Spaeth is working on the Argentine case and briefing it, and I think this is most important.

Padilla said he had no idea of a specific character but he did think that one of the things which could be done was for the principal delegates to agree that a permanent committee be set up composed of a certain number of States, to deal with the developments in this Argentine situation and to report to the other American States any developments in that situation of interest, so that if there are developments in the Argentine with respect to the regime or a change of regime which would make any change of attitude on the part of the other American Republics possible, such a change could be considered. He said this was only a very rough thought that he had not developed, but it was one of the things which he thought might be possible.

He is very sorry that you were not able to come down for the closing meeting of the Joint Economic Commission,52 as he hoped to have this opportunity to exchange views with you. Dudley Bonsal has informed me that the Department is sending us as rapidly as it can, drafts and thoughts of ours in the economic and political field, even though they are not final, and this of course, is going to be helpful. Padilla has expressed strongly how much he feels the need of discussing these matters with us and having some common point of view if possible before the Foreign Ministers and delegates and advisors begin to arrive. Of course this does not mean that he has in mind that we are going to set the stage between ourselves, because that would be inadvisable, but I think he is very sound in his thought that, so far as possible, we should have a complete exchange of views in as frank a way as possible and try to reach as common a basis as we can on some of the major matters, at least six or seven days before the meeting. His whole thought of course is to be helpful.

I should be glad to have your reactions to any of the foregoing.

With all good wishes [etc.]


[Here follows a postscript in which the Ambassador indicated certain factors in Cuban-United States relations that might affect adversely the interests of the United States at the Conference.]

  1. William F. Machold, Special Representative, Mexican-American Commission for Economic Cooperation; a Technical Officer at the Mexico City Conference.
  2. Manuel Avila Camacho.
  3. For documentation concerning this Commission, see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. vii, pp. 1198 ff.