The Ambassador in Mexico (Messersmith) to the Assistant Secretary of State for American Republic Affairs (Braden)

Dear Spruille: I am sending you herewith a copy of my despatch no. 27,8891 with further reference to Lombardo Toledano’s2 statement that imperialistic interests in the United States are smuggling arms to Mexican Sinarquists3 in order to foment revolution. In this despatch I report the press reaction to the statement from Washington made by the Department,4 and authorized by the Mexican Government to the effect that they had made a thorough investigation and found no basis for the statements made by Lombardo in his December 16th speech. It will be noted from the despatch that the press reaction was inadequate and that El National, which is the semiofficial government newspaper here, did not even publish it and that El Popular, which is Lombardo’s paper, also did not publish it. The other newspapers in Mexico City carried it but did not give it the display which the circumstances warrant.

The reason for this, I believe, is quite obvious. There has been this terrible incident at León where troops shot on innocent protestants and there was really a small-scale massacre. Some 50 in the crowd were killed and over 500 wounded and most of them in the back. The Government is in an increasingly embarrassing position. While Lombardo [Page 970] is not a member of the Government he is supporting the government candidate for the Presidency5 and for the Mexican Government to have had to take the action that it has done has been a very difficult thing for it and is causing it a good deal of uneasiness.

The León incident on top of this is exceedingly embarrassing to the Government and to the supporters of Alemán. I do not think that the Government had anything to do with ordering the shooting on the crowd at León, but the officer in charge there thought he was doing what he was expected to do when he permitted or ordered his men to shoot on these innocent people.

I have no definite knowledge that there was any instruction to the newspapers to soft-pedal the reply of the Mexican Government to us to the effect that its investigation had shown that there was no basis for Lombardo’s statement but knowing how things are done here, I would not be surprised, and I am inclined to believe, that some indication was given to the press to soft-pedal the statement.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

With all good wishes,
Cordially and faithfully yours,

George S. Messersmith
  1. Not printed.
  2. Vicente Lombardo Toledano, President of the Confederation of Workers of Latin America (CTAL). According to a memorandum on the Communist movement in Mexico, transmitted in Embassy’s despatch 1074, September 5, 1946, speeches made by Lombardo Toledano revealed strict adherence to principles of Marxism and Leninism, intense devotion to the objectives and foreign policies of the Government of the Soviet Union, and strong anti-United States sentiments. (812.00B/9–546).
  3. The anti-communist Sinarquistas were described in despatch 2,167, December 11, 1945, from Mexico, as the principal groups to keep alive all the traditional Mexican anti-American sentiments and to distort facts, thus encouraging uninformed people to express anti-American opinions (711.12/12–1146).
  4. For a press release of January 5 on investigation by the Mexican Government of charges against American firms, see Department of State Bulletin, January 6 and 13, 1946, p. 39.
  5. Miguel Alemán.