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

No. 6

Sir: I inquired of the Minister for Foreign Affairs2 today whether it would soon be convenient for him and his colleagues in the Government to undertake formal discussions with me looking to modification of the terms of the Lend-Lease Agreement of March 18, 1943.3 Señor Torres Bodet replied that a preliminary study of the draft documents I had left with him on December 17 (despatch 5225 of December 18, 19474) had produced the impression that they could not serve as the basis for formal negotiation. He added that Señor Vicente Sánchez Gavito5 was being entrusted in so far as the Foreign Office is concerned, with the study of this matter and that Señor Sánchez Gavito, [Page 629] when sufficiently prepared, would call on me and present a Mexican proposal containing suggested terms of settlement.

Señor Torres Bodet then stated that he could outline to me in very general terms the present thinking of his Government on this subject. He said that in the first place he desired again to repeat that the Mexican Government does desire to negotiate a settlement of its Lend-Lease indebtedness to the United States. It feels however that the sum now charged by us to the Mexican Government, even as an indebtedness in pesos, is unduly burdensome—the more so as the recent action of the Mexican Congress limits the possibility of real estate transfers to the Federal District, thus eliminating the wider field of real estate transfers for consular establishments elsewhere in the Republic. I interjected at this point the observation that I was quite certain, from the tenor of my instructions, that there was no likelihood that any proposal by the Mexican Government for a reduction of the 33 percent basis on which Mexico’s indebtedness is calculated would be accepted in Washington. The Minister stated that he was aware of this and that his Government had no intention of requesting a reduction in the amount due but that it would seek to bring about a reduction of the indebtedness by the return to the United States of such Lend-Lease equipment as had not been used and for which no use could be foreseen. He added that the appropriate officials will undertake a survey and inventory of the material delivered to Mexico under the Lend-Lease Agreement for the purpose of ascertaining what material might be returned should we be willing to receive it.

With respect to property in Mexico City that might be made available to us, Señor Torres Bodet stated that some thought has been given to the possibility of delivering to us the grounds on Calle Bucareli on which the Ministry of Gobernaçión now stands. He also stated that there are other Government-owned properties which we might prefer and that they will be selected and mentioned to us at a later date.

Respectfully yours,

Walter Thurston
  1. Jaime Torres Bodet.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. vi, p. 397.
  3. Ibid., 1947, vol. viii, p. 750.
  4. Director General of the Diplomatic Service.