811.504 Mexico/1–2546

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

restricted
No. 8387

Sir: Reference is made to the Embassy’s despatch no. 28,031 of January 25, 1946,85 in regard to recruitment in 1946 of Mexican agricultural [Page 1020] workers under the agreement between this Government and the Government of Mexico, dated April 26, 1943.88 The last paragraph of the despatch states that because of the conditions laid down by the Mexican Minister of Labor, Colonel Wilson R. Buie of the Office of Labor of the Department of Agriculture, who had been in Mexico to arrange for recruitment in 1946, had returned to the United States to clear the three conditions placed by the Mexican Government as a prerequisite to authorizing further workers for the United States.

In telephone conversations with an officer of the Division of Mexican Affairs, Mr. Howard Preston of the Office of Labor has informed the Department that the first condition prohibiting the use of workers in nine States was causing considerable embarrassment to the Department of Agriculture in view of the fact that Congressional authorization of funds was made with the cooperation of representatives of the States listed, who understood that labor needs of those States would be given appropriate consideration in the distribution of Mexican agricultural workers. Mr. Preston further stated that the Department of Agriculture would no doubt wish to request the assistance of the Department and the Embassy to the end that the condition in regard to the use of workers in those states be withdrawn by the Mexican Government. To date, such a communication has not been received.

There is enclosed, however, for your information a copy of a memorandum of telephone conversation which took place on February 8, 1946,89 between Senator Robert M. La Follette, Jr., of Wisconsin, and an officer of the Department in regard to the above-mentioned condition as it refers to the State of Wisconsin. It will be noted in the memorandum that Senator La Follette asked the Department to request specifications from the Mexican Government as to the nature of the discrimination or other circumstances which gave rise to the restriction, and that he also expressed the hope that the condition would be removed as Wisconsin was in need of labor and hoped to secure some relief through the bringing in of agricultural workers under the Agreement of April 26, 1943. It is very probable that other members of the Senate or of the House of Representatives will approach the Department on the same subject, and you will be promptly informed if such is the case.

The Department has been informed by telephone that Colonel Buie and Mr. Preston intend to return to Mexico City about February 16 to discuss the conditions of recruitment further with you and with [Page 1021] the Mexican Government. In view of the circumstances set forth above, the Department is of the opinion that it would be very desirable for you, in your discretion, to give every appropriate assistance toward the removal of this condition and to secure an explanation thereof which can be communicated to Senator La Follette and others interested in this problem. The Department of course has no objection to your discussing this matter informally with officials of the Mexican Government prior to the arrival there of Messrs. Buie and Preston if you consider such a step preferable to handling the matter while they are present.

You are also authorized, in your discretion, to request the Mexican Government formally for permission for the Department of Agriculture to conduct recruiting, during 1946, for the maintenance of up to 54,000 workers at any given time in the United States.

If you take the matter of the condition up with representatives of the Mexican Government prior to the arrival of the representatives of the Department of Agriculture, you may be asked about this Government’s attitude as to the second and third conditions laid down, as listed in the memorandum of January 23, 1946, which was the enclosure to the Embassy’s despatch no. 28,031, under reference. These two points have been discussed by telephone with Colonel Buie’s office, which has stated that you may make the following statements if you so wish:

The Department of Agriculture does not know just what the Mexican Government has in mind in regard to wages, but its representatives, upon arrival in Mexico City, will be glad to discuss the question thoroughly with the representatives of the Mexican Government with a view to reaching a mutually satisfactory understanding. In regard to medical attention, the Department of Agriculture feels that the medical care made available to the Mexican workers is of a high caliber and that there have been relatively few complaints, which have originated through the failure of some employers to understand the benefits to which the Mexicans are entitled. The Department of Agriculture is prepared to redouble its efforts to see that the medical care provided is made available to all workers. In regard to the last condition, the increase of Mexican collaborators to twenty, the Department of Agriculture indicates that if condition one is sustained, the use of Mexican workers will be confined to so limited an area that it is of the opinion that additional collaborators would not be needed. However, if condition one is removed and if the Mexican Government feels that the use of additional inspectors or collaborators is necessary, the Department of Agriculture will be prepared to make provision for them.

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The text of this instruction has been cleared with the Office of Labor of the Department of Agriculture by telephone in order that there may be no question as to the viewpoint of that office.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
Dean Acheson

Under Secretary of State
  1. Not printed; in it Ambassador Messersmith reported on discussions with respect to the recruiting program with the Mexican Foreign Minister, Francisco Castillo Nájera, President Manuel Avila Camacho, and the Minister of Labor, Francisco Trujillo Gurria, who stated that no objection was perceived to the proposed recruiting program providing it was made subject to certain conditions. A memorandum of January 23 enclosed in the despatch outlined the three conditions as follows: (1) No Mexican worker would work in the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming; (2) changes would be made in the Individual Work Agreement, principally in those chapters relative to wages and medical attention; and (3) the number of special Mexican inspectors (collaborators) would be increased to 20 (811.504–Mexico/1–2546).
  2. For text, see Department of State Executive Agreement Series No. 351, or 57 Stat. (pt. 2) 1152; for text of original agreement of August 4, 1942, see Executive Agreement Series No. 278. or 56 Stat. (pt. 2) 1759: for documentation on the negotiation of these agreements, see Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. vi, pp. 537 ff., and ibid., 1943. vol. vi, pp. 531 ff.
  3. Not printed.