811.504 Mexico/8–2845

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

[Extracts]
No. 26,023

Sir: Reference is made to my telegram #1027 of August 23, 6 p.m., 1945 and to telephone conversations between Mr. O’Donoghue of my staff and Mr. William G. MacLean of the Mexican Division of the Department respecting the termination of the War Manpower Commission’s labor recruiting activity in Mexico under the agreement of April 29, 1943.

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On August 27 Mr. O’Donoghue called at the Foreign Office and told the Oficial Mayor, Lic. Campos Ortiz, that it would appear now that it will be impossible for the War Manpower Commission to recruit any of the large number of Mexican workers who have been concentrated at various points in the Republic for contracting. He said that the contracting of workers by the War Manpower Commission had been carried out under war-time legislation or authority and that this originally provided that all foreign workers in the United States should be returned to their countries of origin within thirty days following the cessation of hostilities, but that following representations made by the Mexican Government, the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service had ruled that insofar as Mexican workers are concerned all such in the United States at the time of cessation of hostilities would be permitted to terminate their contracts, which were usually drawn up for a period of six months; and that this measure provided that the return flow of Mexican labor from the United States would be at the rate at which they were contracted and would be over a period of six months. Mr. O’Donoghue told Lic. Campos Ortiz that under existing legislation it would be impossible to recruit any other workers in Mexico for six months’ employment in the United States, since all foreign workers now in the United States would have to leave there within six months as of August 14, which was the date set by the Immigration Service as the date of cessation of hostilities.

Lic. Campos Ortiz then referred to the first paragraph of the general provisions of the agreement of April 29, 1943, which reads as follows:

“It is understood that the War Manpower Commission will cooperate with such other agencies of the Government of the United States in carrying this understanding into effect whose authority under the laws of the United States are such as to contribute to the effectuation of the understanding. Either Government shall have the right to renounce this understanding giving appropriate notification to the other [Page 1148] Government ninety days in advance. This understanding may be formalized by an exchange of notes between the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Mexico and the Embassy of the United States of America in Mexico.”

In this connection Lic. Campos Ortiz inquired if the United States Government is taking any steps to renounce the agreement and was informed that no renouncement was being made at this time. Lic. Campos Ortiz then said that in the opinion of his Government the ninety day clause contained in the general provisions was inserted for the precise purpose of obviating such a situation as has now arisen and to provide for the orderly contracting of and liquidation of workers who had been assembled at contracting points in the Republic by the Mexican authorities at the request of the War Manpower Commission. He felt therefore that the Mexican Government’s claim that the Commission should contract these workers was binding and, since the question involved an international agreement, he suggested that such an agreement was more binding than the law of the land. He indicated that the Ministry for Foreign Affairs would doubtless be addressing the Embassy a formal communication along this line (a copy of a memorandum prepared by Mr. O’Donoghue following his conversation with Lic. Campos Ortiz is attached hereto).56

While I feel that the position taken by the Mexican authorities in the matter of the recruiting of labor which it has assembled at various points in the Republic may be considered as too demanding, nevertheless I consider that a certain amount of right pertains to it. There is no doubt that these workers were assembled at the direct request of the War Manpower Commission and that some expense and considerable difficulty were met with in collecting these individuals. There will also be considerable more difficulty and at least some more expense now in returning these prospective recruits to their homes. I do not know what proposition, if any, we can or would be in a position to make to the Mexican Government in liquidation of this matter, but I would suggest that thought be given to finding some means of liquidating any justifiable complaint which the Mexican Government might possibly have as to the War Manpower Commission’s abrupt termination of recruiting activity.

Respectfully yours,

George S. Messersmith
  1. Memorandum dated August 27, 1945, not printed.