710 Conference W and PW/2–1345: Telegram

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

175. I have just had a talk with the Department’s representatives who are here and who have been having conversations with our Mexican friends during the last days. While we have been hampered by our inability to indicate the thinking of our Government, our Mexican friends have been quite free in the expression of their views. In view of the frequent delays in the airmail, also that we are not yet altogether sure of the secrecy of our direct wire, I have asked Bohan, in view of the importance of Department’s having this information without delay, [Page 111] to transmit over the telephone the views expressed to us by our Mexican friends in the last few days without his commenting thereon.

We can secure the reaffirmation of liberal trade policies at the coming conference. This is important since it sets the objectives to be achieved, but if nothing further is offered by way of a program, it will cause the keenest disillusionment since the road by which we propose to reach those objectives is of primary interest to Latin America. To disregard implementation will actually jeopardize the ultimate and real acceptance of the principles underlying the objectives. The Mexicans are convinced that continuance of many controls, including tariffs, is essential to their protection and development for many years to come, and as these same opinions are widespread throughout Latin America, no real progress can be made unless we are prepared to present a program which is more effective in meeting transition and postwar problems than present unilateral control systems. Hence our thinking must be less adamant and we must realize that some form of protection is required to promote even economic industrialization, international agreements may be required to protect living standards and efficient utilization of exchange balances is not to be condemned per se.

Without offering constructive solutions for immediate and long term problems we are not only retarding implementation of liberal trade principles but almost certainly creating a situation on which the conference may be founded [founder?].

As we have continuously indicated from here, the probabilities are that the political problems before the meeting can be resolved without difficulty provided an adequately favorable atmosphere is created by the approach to economic problems.