611.1256/8–447: Telegram

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

us urgent

858. For Reveley, Mexican Division. Dr. Shahan,38 Messrs. Bohan,39 Gibbs, Stoops, and Geist40 have reviewed with me the opinions and suggestions of President Alemán as reported in confidential tel 853, August 4, and have drafted the following comment thereon:

1. With respect to American personnel, this problem has been recognized by both sections of Joint Commission and general agreement [Page 817] has been reached whereby Americans will remain in background on all possible occasions. It is felt, however, that it is essential to have Mexican [American?] personnel operating close enough to the front to make sure that appraisals are just and reasonable and that American funds are handled properly. In this connection it is agreed in the Commission that the greatest need is for a more ample corps of qualified Mexican appraisers and paymasters with which American counterparts can collaborate. At present the ratio of Mexicans to Americans is one to three. Where qualified Mexicans have been provided there have been few difficulties in appraisals and little untoward public reaction. Under overall plan for prosecution of campaign it is felt that the classes of susceptible animals to be appraised and slaughtered are too variable to set general blanket appraisal values. Furthermore, it is contemplated that number appraisers and paymasters requested from US, if matched by similar qualified Mexicans, will be sufficient slaughter all possible susceptible animals during coming year on basis present appraisal and reimbursement procedures and will present no impediment to campaign. It should be pointed out that basic delay in program during past several days has been lack Mexican Govt funds with which to pay indemnities for small animals designed for slaughter. There have been cases where hogs, sheep and goats were slaughtered and have not yet been paid for by Mexican paymasters. In some such cases owners have refused to submit cattle for slaughter even though they have been shown cash for payment by American paymasters.

During the recent Commission meeting it was proposed that Mexico make monthly contribution to the Joint Commission indemnity fund of $1,500,000, US currency per month, and that indemnities for all classes susceptible livestock be paid from that common fund, US to bear all expenses above $1,500,000 monthly, excepting expenses of Mexican Army and Mexican Government personnel. Such plan believed essential basis experiences to date. It is felt that all slaughter operations must be simultaneous and coordinated if campaign is to succeed. Although Joint Commission felt that such plan would be advantageous to Mexican Govt, its approval has not yet been forthcoming.

Another important element causing delaying slaughter and inciting resentment among owners has been lack authority under Mexican law to outright condemnation affected and exposed animals. A proposed decree along these lines has been drawn up by Joint Commission and has been in hands of Mexican Govt for approximately 10 days without definite action.

2. Proposed vaccination-slaughter program regarded by American [Page 818] Section Commission as contrary US policy and interest inasmuch as they feel chances eradication will be lessened if not eliminated thereby. They have expressed doubt of continued American support if program is so compromised. Proposed International Commission, supposedly to be resident in Mexico, might lead to controversy prejudicial to US. American Section Commission feel that in view US is bearing bulk financial burden campaign its views should not be subjected to compromising actions other countries not actively participating financially and otherwise in campaign. It does, however, recommend consultation between research scientists of US and Mexico with those of selected countries, and definitely favors cooperation of US and Mexican research scientists with countries having established research facilities. It also strongly favors establishment soon as possible foot and mouth disease research institute outside Mexico.

3. As regards designation of person of high political standing by President Truman to collaborate with person of similar qualifications appointed by President Alemán in concurrent control of Mexican-US Commission, we feel that President of US should be protected from engaging so directly in a campaign which, although basically technical in nature, has many political ramifications. It is our understanding that US Secretary of Agriculture41 has direct responsibility to President and people of US for success this campaign and we believe by-passing Secretary on matters such importance, particularly where so many technical aspects are involved, would only lead to confusion and overall weakening of campaign. Members of Commission are well aware of political and economic significance of this eradication program.

It the course of our examination of this problem, we came to the conclusion that President Alemán either has not been convinced by the views of the American section of the Joint Commission with regard to the manner in which the campaign should be conducted (which views are shared by the technical members of the Mexican section of the Commission) or has been influenced by foreign and Mexican advisers hostile to the slaughter method. We believe that the situation created by President Alemán’s present attitude toward the campaign is sufficiently critical to warrant the recommendation that the American viewpoint be authoritatively explained to him by the US Secretary of Agriculture in person and we accordingly recommend that Mr. Anderson be directed by the President to visit Mexico at an early date for this purpose. Such a course of action would remove the necessity for designating the special representative requested by Alemán, a [Page 819] measure which we are convinced would only result in confusion and delay.

  1. Maurice S. Shahan, Bureau of Animal Industry, Department of Agriculture; American Co-Director of the Joint Mexican-United States Foot-and-Mouth Disease Commission.
  2. Merwin L. Bohan, Counselor of Embassy for Economic Affairs.
  3. Raymond H. Geist, Counselor of Embassy.
  4. Clinton P. Anderson.