The Ambassador in Mexico (Messersmith) to the Secretary of State
[Received October 25.]
Sir: I have the honor to refer to my secret despatches No. 25,338 of July 12, 1945, No. 25,470 of July 19, 1945, and No. 25,896 of August 15, 1945,25 all with reference to the desire of our Government to proceed with the setting up and functioning of the Joint Mexican-United States Technical Advisory Committee of aviation experts provided for in the recent Staff Conversations between our military and the Mexican military authorities.…
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In the final report of the Joint Staff Conversations between Mexico and the United States held in Mexico City in March, 1945, above referred to, the Mexican and the United States delegates, keeping in mind some of these matters above referred to, recommended in their joint report that “in view of the highly specialized technical nature of the contemplated air program for Mexico, the two governments appoint a Joint Advisory Technical Group to assist in obtaining maximum success in the development of the program in the most economical manner and in the shortest period of time. This Joint Technical Group to be charged with the responsibility of recommending layouts of facilities, training programs, the supply and maintenance systems and assisting in expediting all action in connection with these matters, both in the United States and in Mexico”.
It was recognized in this paragraph of the joint report of the Staff Conversations and in the joint recommendations that it would take some time for the two governments to carry through certain implementing legislation. In view of the desirability of proceeding with a sound air program as rapidly as possible, it was recommended and agreed to by the Mexican and United States members participating in the Staff Conversations that a Joint Technical Advisory Group of aviation experts and technicians be set up as soon as possible.
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As soon as I had taken these exploratory steps, I had a conversation with President Avila Camacho on October 18, 1945, and I went fully into this matter of the joint committee. I said that I fully understood the reason why he had not been prepared to have the committee set up and wished to delay somewhat longer. I said that it was not imperative for defense purposes between the United States and Mexico and in the inter-American picture that the joint committee should be set up at once. I explained to him, however, our difficulties with regard to the delivery of material, as lend-lease was no longer operative. I said to the President that it was the opinion of our military concerned that if the committee were set up with two Mexican and two United States members, it would be possible for it, under existing law and authority vested in the War Department, to transfer certain air equipment to the United States members of the joint committee, who after such use thereof as they saw fit, could channel it and deliver it to the Mexican members and to the Mexican Air Force at no cost, or practically no cost. I said that this was the only way in which we saw that we could make certain deliveries of air equipment to Mexico while such equipment was still available, without charging sums which the Mexican budget could not bear, and until both Congresses had passed legislation implementing the Staff Conversations and defense arrangements between the American Republics.
The President said that he appreciated the situation fully, and said that under these conditions he thought he could agree to the immediate setting up of the joint committee. He asked me if I had given a memorandum on the subject to the Minister of Foreign Relations. I said that I had not mentioned the matter to him. He said that if I would give the Minister of Foreign Relations a memorandum along the lines of my conversation, he thought he could authorize the setting up of the joint committee without delay.
I may say that in discussing this matter with the President, the President spoke for at least half an hour of the necessity for certain defense arrangements among the American Republics, and that Mexico could be depended upon in every respect to participate in such defense arrangements and without reserves. As the remarks which he made were those of an enlightened statesman understanding the world situation and all its implications and indicated as well his deep devotion to the consolidating of the relationships with the United States, as well as his consecration to the ideals of inter-American collaboration, I shall not burden this despatch with these remarks, but will make them the subject of a separate despatch26 because of the importance of the statements made by the President, which, I may say, I believe also [Page 1127] represent the ideas of the overwhelming part of the Mexican Army officials.
In view of the fact that my conversations, referred to in this despatch, with General Henry were of an informal character, I do not feel that I am in a position to present a memorandum to the Minister of Foreign Relations without the authority of the Department and of the War Department. One of the basic considerations in the relationship between states is that commitments, whether oral or written, must be scrupulously kept. I do not wish, therefore, to state that with the setting up of the committee, certain surplus air material in the United States may be made available through this channel at no cost, or practically no cost, to the Mexican Government, without authorization from the Department and the War Department. As the President is now expecting me to deliver such a memorandum to the Minister of Foreign Relations, I have prepared a draft of a memorandum which I could leave with the Foreign Minister after a conversation on the lines of the memorandum. This draft is attached hereto. (Enclosure No. 2).27
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… I will not go into detail in this despatch and recite the particular types and numbers of aircraft involved together with spare parts, as all the appropriate data is in the files of the War Department. I need only say here that the quantity which Mexico has expressed a willingness to receive is considerably less than the quantity that our own air officials and military authorities would wish Mexico to acquire or to receive. I make mention of this matter of quantity only to make it clear that Mexico is not endeavoring to secure, either through purchase or at an altogether nominal sum, any considerable amount of military air material. She wishes to receive only the minimum that she can use and maintain.
I should like to emphasize that I should not be authorized to have this conversation with the Minister of Foreign Relations and leave with him the memorandum confirming such conversation (Enclosure No. 2) unless it is determined that with the establishment of the Joint Technical Advisory Committee we will be in a position to channel, under existing law and authority by the War Department, to the two United States members of the committee this air equipment, which can then be written off our books; and after appropriate use by the committee in Mexico, be turned over to the Mexican members of the committee and to the Mexican Air Force without cost. When I say without cost I mean this literally in the sense that we should not expect payment other than of a token character. The transfer of such equipment [Page 1128] should be made, let us say, for a dollar a plane, or such token sum. …
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I shall await further conversations with the Mexican Government and with the President and the Foreign Minister of Mexico on this matter until I may receive authorization to leave with the Minister of Foreign Relations a memorandum along the lines of that herewith submitted (Enclosure No. 2), and to discuss with him the matter on the basis that the immediate establishment of the Joint Committee will permit the delivery of certain air material at what would be equivalent to no cost.
The Department is aware of the continued and serious consideration which I have given to these matters of inter-American defense and collaboration in every field; and I wish to reiterate my conviction that we would be failing our people and not serving the cause of our country if we do not proceed with the immediate implementation of the Acts of Chapultepec and with such concrete action, such as this contemplated through the setting up now of the Joint Technical Advisory Committee with Mexico.