Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Mexican Affairs (Carrigan)

Participants: Assistant Secretary Spruille Braden
Mexican Ambassador Espinosa de los Monteros
John Carrigan, MA

Ambassador Espinosa de los Monteros called, at his own request, on Mr. Braden at 5:30 today.

He started out the conversation by referring to the fact that 1947 would be the hundredth anniversary of this country’s war with Mexico. He said that this would be a critical year in view of the general political situation in Mexico and the wartime betterment of relations with this country, since we were at a crossroads which would either bring about a continued improvement in our relations or a deterioration. He said that he had noticed that in similar circumstances, in history, an unwritten agreement appeared to have been entered into by the two countries concerned whereby they approached such anniversaries on an identic basis: they either made mutual attempts for emphasizing the anniversary or for playing it down. He expressed his opinion that Mexico and the United States should make such preparation. He said that, irrespective whether we decided to play it up or to play it down, the opening gun of the year would be the inauguration of the next administration on December 1. He referred to Mr. Carrigan’s conversation with Counselor Sánchez Gavito of the Embassy a few hours before, in which Mr. Carrigan, with Mr. Braden’s permission, had told Mr. Sánchez Gavito of the contemplated abandonment of the practice of naming special ambassadors for inaugurations in this hemisphere. He said that, while he was completely in agreement with the technical wisdom of such a step and while he appreciated that it was exceedingly delicate for him to make any suggestions in this connection, he nevertheless felt so strongly about this anniversary year that he did wish Mr. Braden to know how vital he felt it would be for such a special ambassador to be appointed in the case of the inauguration in Mexico. He said that he was sure that Ambassador Messersmith was so good a friend to Mexico that he would himself be the first to agree with such a recommendation.

He said that, if a special ambassador were not so named, it would be taken as a definite break with the new administration, and that even the publication of the decision at this time would be taken as significant of a deterioration in our common relations. Mr. Carrigan pointed out that he understood there was at least one other inauguration [Page 976] between now and December 1 and that it occurred to him that the edge of this matter might be taken off by this previous inauguration. The Mexican Ambassador said that he was perfectly certain that our decision would be interpreted in Mexico as having a bearing on the Mexican political situation: he remarked that it must be realized that there were those in Mexico who were seeking every opportunity to foment difficulties between the two countries and that they would jump at this opportunity to make statements misinterpreting our real position for their own ends.

Mr. Carrigan said that it was also possible, in view of Leftist attacks upon our Embassy in Mexico City, that these: same elements might seize upon the naming of a special ambassador as warrant for maintaining that the Government of the United States is not in sympathy with its Embassy. The Mexican Ambassador said that any person in political life was always subjected to attack: he cited an article in Time of February 11 attacking the wife of the President of Mexico. He then reverted once more to his earnest opinion that 1947 represented a very serious crossroads in our common history; that the opening gun was the inauguration in question; and that he earnestly hoped that we would find it possible to name a special ambassador for the inauguration in Mexico City.

Mr. Braden assured the Mexican Ambassador of his appreciation of the problems which the Mexican Ambassador had brought up and assured him that we would give this matter every consideration.9

John Willard Carrigan
  1. For a Department of State press release of November 7, 1946, concerning President Truman’s appointment of Mr. Walter Thurston as Special Ambassador for the inauguration of the new President of Mexico on December 1, see Department of State Bulletin, November 17, 1946, p. 919.