The Ambassador in Mexico (Messersmith) to the Secretary of State
[Received July 24.]
Sir: I have the honor to refer to my confidential despatch No. 25,349 of July 14,16 entitled “Transmitting Copy of Memorandum Which Will Be Left at the Foreign Office in a Few Days With Appropriate Comment and Background in Connection with Expropriation and Dotation of American-owned Lands Subsequent to the 1941 Agreement between the United States and Mexico” and to inform the Department, as indicated at the close of that despatch, that I personally left the memorandum17 transmitted with my despatch No. 25,349, under reference, with the Acting Minister of Foreign Relations18 last evening.
I stated to the Acting Minister that I was presenting this memorandum with the list of expropriations and dotations19 for the following reasons.
I said that we had on various occasions informed the Foreign Office of expropriations as they came to our attention and had received acknowledgments to the effect that the matter was being submitted to the appropriate agencies of the Mexican Government. I said that to my knowledge, however, no compensation had been paid to the [Page 1191] owners of any of the expropriated lands which did not fall within the Agreement between my Government and the Mexican Government in November 1941.
I recalled to the Acting Minister that on several occasions in the last few years I have mentioned to the then Minister of Foreign Relations, Dr. Padilla, the concern of my Government and of this Embassy with regard to the increasing number of expropriations without prompt and adequate compensation being made and also to the provisional dotations which are being carried through without any definite action being taken by the Agrarian authorities of the Mexican Government and the Executive, leaving the matter in suspense and the American owners of the lands greatly incommoded and damaged. I said that in these conversations with Dr. Padilla, I had indicated our concern that a backlog of these cases was accumulating. I had mentioned the satisfactory character of the Agreement which had settled this long standing problem of land claims, etc. between the two countries and that it was my belief that both Governments were equally desirous of avoiding any further difficulties in connection with such expropriations and dotations. I recalled to the Acting Minister that Dr. Padilla had on several occasions when I spoke to him expressed complete agreement with the point of view expressed by this Embassy and had indicated that he would take up the matter with the Agrarian Department of the Mexican Government as well as with the President of Mexico20 in order to facilitate settlement of pending cases.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Acting Minister stated that he was keenly conscious of the considerations which I had just set forth. He said that he would in his next weekly meeting with the President of Mexico bring this matter to his attention and that he could assure me that the Foreign Office was in accord with the ideas which I had expressed and would present this point of view very strongly with the President of Mexico, as well as to the Agrarian Department.
This despatch does not require any action by the Department but I wished it to know that the Consular officers in Mexico and this Embassy have been keenly conscious of this problem and of their responsibilities in connection therewith and have not failed to take the appropriate action with the Mexican authorities.
My own confidential observation would be that there is no doubt that the President and the Foreign Office have given directives in this matter but that the Agrarian Department has been grossly negligent in practically every respect. In my conversation with the Acting Minister I presented the matter very strongly as I knew this would be of [Page 1192] aid to the Foreign Office in taking up the matter with the President and with the Agrarian Department. I was careful to make it clear that we could not object to either the expropriation or the provisional dotation of properties of American citizens but that we were seriously concerned not only with the accumulating backlog of such cases but also of the manner in which they were being handled by the Agrarian Department.
I informed the Acting Minister that the next time I had the opportunity of seeing the President of Mexico it was my intention to mention this conversation reported upon to the President and asked him if he saw any inconvenience therein. The Acting Minister said that it would be very helpful if in my next conversation with the President I would again mention this matter to him but emphasize that he was also bringing it to the direct attention of the President in the immediate future.
The foregoing is for the information and background of the Department so that it may be aware of the steps which we are taking.