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


Subject: Current Civil Aviation Negotiations With Mexico

In view of the Aerovías Guest1 hearing before the Civil Aeronautics Board, on February 20th, and the Department’s Memorandum of Conversation of February 8,2 the Embassy feels that a review and analysis of the history of our air transport negotiations with Mexico might be helpful at the present time.

The first negotiation was held in Washington in October, 1945, and was the only one which, in the broad sense of the word, could be [Page 945] termed a negotiation. Mexico’s position was made clear at that time, and has been re-stated in every subsequent negotiation, namely that it desires protection for its air carriers as being unable to compete freely with the much stronger, efficient, and government-aided American carriers. Hence, Mexico’s unwillingness to approve parallel operations, e.g. Los Angeles–Mexico. Briefly, the Mexicans finally agreed to grant all of our routes, viz., New Orleans and Los Angeles–Mexico City, but objected to the one for Western Airlines, and the negotiations broke down over this point.

The negotiations which were held in 1946, 1947 and 19483 were, on our side, all based on the Latin American Decision of 19464 and the basic reason, from the Mexican point of view, why they were all unsuccessful was because that Decision offended Mexican pride, and because our position seemed to them so rigid that it did not permit of a compromise solution regarding our route requests. In addition, Mexican officials have let it be known on more than one occasion, and over a long period of time, that they feel that we have failed to appreciate and understand Mexico’s desire to be treated on a basis of equality in civil aviation matters.5

For the first time since 1945 Mexico has now unofficially offered a tentative compromise solution. They have proposed to Eastern Airlines, and as noted in Embassy telegram no. 1373 of November 25, 1949,6 Martin Perez repeated this proposal orally to the Embassy, that Eastern form a Mexican subsidiary and that the Mexican Government would then be willing to grant this Mexican flag carrier the concession to operate the Mexican portion of the Mexico City–New Orleans route. While no Mexican official has ever said so in so many words, their idea, in addition to the one of national pride in seeing their flag flown into the United States, is that Eastern should be willing to invest some capital in the country just as Pan American, American and United have all done. Although such a proposal might not be wholly acceptable [Page 946] to us, it would seem to approach that point since the Chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board, as noted in the Department’s Memo of Conversation of December 19,7 said it “should only be done if everything else fails in getting Eastern into Mexico”. The Mexican proposal to Eastern, as outlined also in that Memorandum, was probably made to Captain Rickenbacker when he was in Mexico last August, and is known to have been repeated to Mr. Gambrell on November 21 when he called briefly on Martin Perez. This would seem to indicate a willingness on Mexico’s part to resolve the Eastern problem even before Mr. Miller outlined our position to the Mexican Ambassador on November 24.8

When the present negotiations began Martin Perez, the Director of Civil Aviation, told the Embassy frankly that in Mexico’s opinion the Guest and Eastern problems were unrelated; that Mexico intended to insist on civil air reciprocity; that Mexico, in the event we refused the Guest application, would be forced to take retaliatory measures and cancel some of Pan American’s operations—the concessions for 3 of which are terminable at any time. In a recent conversation with García López, Minister of Communications, on another matter, he gratuitously pointed out that in his opinion the Guest and Eastern problems were unrelated—from which it can be deduced that in the intervening 3 months the Mexican officials have not changed their minds and that the views that they have expressed are undoubtedly those also of President Alemàn.

[Here follows the Embassy’s outlined negotiating strategy which was not implemented by the Department.]

For the Ambassador:
George S. Roper

First Secretary of Embassy
  1. Aerovías Guest was a Mexican airline which had applied for the right to stop for passengers at Miami on its route from Mexico City to Madrid.
  2. By Charles P. Nolan of the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs, not printed.
  3. For documentation, see Foreign Relations, 1946, vol. xi, pp. 992 ff, ibid., 1947, vol. viii, pp. 751 ff., and ibid., 1948, vol. ix, pp. 637 ff.
  4. Text of the decision of May 17, “Additional Service to Latin America,” is printed in Civil Aeronautics Board Reports, vol. 6 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1946), pp. 857-946.
  5. In a memorandum of a conversation held February 9, 1950, between himself, Mr. Mann, and Ambassador Rafael de la Colina of Mexico, Mr. Rubottom stated in part:

    “Mr. Mann reiterated that there is a basic difference between the United States and Mexican approach to civilian aviation. Under the United States theory of competitive airlines, as contrasted with Mexico’s idea of monopoly or division of traffic we feel that Mexico actually enjoys rights to fly all of the routes now being flown into Mexico by United States lines plus her monopoly run into Los Angeles. He explained that, to the best of his knowledge, this was the only run of that kind permitted by the United States. He pointed out that, should the United States vary in its application to Mexico of the competitive airline principle it might as well discard all of the twenty or twenty-one bilateral aviation agreements which it has signed with other countries.” (911.5212/2–950)

  6. Not printed.
  7. Not printed.
  8. The U.S. position at that time is summarized briefly in the memorandum of August 2, 1950, to President Truman by Under Secretary of State James E. Webb, p. 957.