712.5 MSP/2–1252:Telegram

The Ambassador in Mexico (O’Dwyer) to the Department of State


1026. Held third mtg with Mex del today. (Depgam A–556, Jan 29)1 First mtg, at request Mex del, read text US draft, explaining points when asked. Second mtg Mex del members army, navy, air and polit made gen statements. Then Rabasa, FonOff, explained Mex difficulties constitutionally and polit. At second mtg Mex del hedged when we tried nail down question could they accept principle use Mex forces in hemis def.

Today’s mtg Mex del stated definitely could not accept our draft. Gave us for basis agrmnt written statement summary of which is:

Recognizing certain internatl commitments, nevertheless Mex shld do everything possible strengthen her capacity defend herself.
Because of Mex’s geographic position US cannot remain indifferent to that capacity for defense.
Mexico is different from other LA countries.
Mex has asked US facilitate acquisition material and equipment perfect its mil industry. Better do that than include Mex among other LA countries.
In case an agrmnt shld be reached, it would in no way modify Art 20 Rio treaty.2

In order smoke out constitutional question and their constant ref Rio treaty we read: “(2) the task assignments … will become effective when both govts elect to use armed forces:

  • “(A) In conformity with the inter-Amer treaty of recip assist, either:
    • “1. As a result of a request from an Amer state directly attacked, or
    • “2. As a result of a decision by the organization of consultation that armed forces shall be used, or;
  • (B) As otherwise mutually agreed, in a manner inconsistent with the internatl obligations of both govts,”

Making clear this language could not be used in basic agrmnt.

We suggested adjourning until tomorrow purpose OSR studying their proposal.

After gen mtg Gen Salinas, Rabasa, Gen Jones, Culbertson had frank talk. Said we understood present polit sit and could only accept their constitutional argument. To make clear our gen goal Jones gave brief picture hemis mil plan and intention use Mex forces. We indicated prelim view we could not accept their basis further discussion. Also indicated failure go along at this time might prejudice Mex position any further grants.

Rabasa [and] Salinas belabored fol points: Mex different from other LA countries; Mex is on outside in event conflict but to be of value Mex mil must be built up; Mex–US comm best means this matter.

We made clear present proposals and grant aid could not come under Mex–US comm.

We consider basis agrmnt as proposed by Mexs completely unacceptable and propose so inform Mex del tomorrow’s mtg.

Since they cannot accept our draft and we can’t accept their proposals feel we shld find most graceful way out.

While Mex del lays most emphasis on constitutional difficulty, we feel polit it may be more important to them. Opposition and other polit elements are attacking possibility of a mil agrmnt and such attacks may well have their effect. We feel PRI (the govt party) can ill afford opening itself to popular attack at this time. The uncertainties surrounding Avila Camacho and Cardenas3 place PRI in a delicate situation, and if either or both shld throw their influence against the PRI candidate, who has only a modest public appeal, the election could go to elements probably left of present govt and probably less favorable to US.

If, as looks likely, no agrmnt can be reached now, we feel a formula shld be found by which the door can be kept open to agrmnt under future grants.

  1. Department airgram A–556 authorized the Embassy in Mexico City to initiate the negotiation of a bilateral military assistance agreement based upon the U.S. draft of Nov. 20, 1951 (712.5 MSP/1–2952). An annotated copy of the draft is contained in file 720.5 MAP/11–2351. Counselor of the U.S. Embassy Culbertson acted as chairman of the U.S. negotiating team with Gen. Albert Jones heading the military group of three which participated in the conversations. Brig. Gen. Alberto Salinas Carranza, chairman of the Mexican Delegation, was assisted by Mexican Foreign Office representatives Oscar Rabasa and Ambassador Joublanc Rivas.
  2. Reference is to the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (commonly referred to as the Rio Treaty), signed at Rio de Janeiro, Sept. 2, 1947, and effective for the United States, Dec. 3, 1948; for text, see TIAS No. 1838, or 62 Stat. (pt. 2) 1681.
  3. Manuel Ávila Camacho was President of Mexico for the period from 1940 to 1946; General Lázaro Cárdenas for the period from 1934 to 1940.