The Ambassador in Mexico ( Messersmith ) to the Secretary of State
[Received July 30.]
Sir: Reference is made to previous correspondence in connection with the operation of the agreement of April 26, 1943, between the United States and México whereby the War Food Administration has been recruiting labor in México for employment in the United States in agricultural work. It will be recalled that a quota of 75,000 had been established as the number of such labor which might be in the United States at any one time.
In this connection, I have the honor to report that Mr. Harry F. Brown, the local representative of the War Food Administration, called at the Embassy on July 21 and stated that he had just received instructions from Mr. Anglim, Berkeley, California, Regional Director [Page 1145] of the War Food Administration, that owing to budget difficulties it would be necessary to close down WFA recruiting activities in México with the sending of the train the evening of that same day. He stated that he had been instructed to disband his recruiting organization at Irapuato, although he is to keep his office open in the Capital.
Mr. Brown continued by stating that when General Bruton had been Director of Labor of the WFA,53 he felt that he could, and undoubtedly could have obtained from Congress funds as needed for the program; that the budget had been estimated to cover 100,000 foreign workers, including West Indians; but that the number of workers in the United States is now slightly in excess of 100,000 and since the Department of Agriculture will not now approach Congress for increased funds, it is therefore necessary for WFA to retrench. Mr. Brown said that the WFA was taking the question up with the Department of State and he expressed surprise that the Department had not informed us as to the action taken.
In view of the fact that this matter treated of an international agreement it was deemed advisable in the Embassy immediately to inform the Foreign Office as to the termination of the War Food Administration’s recruiting activities. A note was therefore prepared and delivered to the Oficial Mayor of the Mexican Foreign Office at 12:30 on July 21. A copy of this note is attached hereto.54 It will be noted that no mention is made as to the real reason for the curtailment of the WFA activities but that the termination of such activities is based on the fact that the quota of 75,000 had been approximately reached.
Subsequent to his visit to the Embassy, Mr. Brown, who was considerably perturbed as to the reaction of Labor officials, called on those officials and told them frankly of the action which was being taken and the reasons therefor. He has informed the Embassy that although these officials were originally considerably annoyed over the abrupt manner in which this recruiting was terminated, he succeeded in mollifying them and he believes that there will be no further official repercussion. In this connection, he stated that this was largely possible owing to the cooperative attitude of Mr. Churchill Murray, the local representative of the War Manpower Commission, who has agreed to take over the labor which had been set aside by the Ministry for the use of the War Food Administration.
The Embassy has had no official reaction to the termination of the WFA activities but it is entirely possible that some may be forthcoming, [Page 1146] more especially since the Ministry of Labor had recently gone to considerable trouble in order to make additional manpower available to the WFA. Newspaper comment has been limited to two articles in the often unfriendly Novedades of July 22 and 23.
The Embassy is keeping in touch with this situation and will keep the Department informed.
First Secretary of Embassy