Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs ( Thorp ) to the Secretary of State 1



  • Negotiations with Mexico for an Air Agreement


You initiate discussion of this subject during your meeting with the President today.
You urge the President to permit you to select a wholly independent, proven negotiator, preferably Dr. George P. Baker.2
You permit me and one or two additional Departmental Officers concerned to brief you verbally prior to your meeting with the President.


High level political pressures both in this country and in Mexico may easily combine to bring about an agreement wholly unacceptable [Page 1332] to the Department, the Congress, the Civil Aeronautics Board and certain influential segments of the air transport industry. The only way that these pressures may be offset is by the appointment of a strong, knowledgeable, independent Chairman of the U.S. Delegation whose final personal recommendation would be supported by the President.
Two serious and far-reaching difficulties could flow from an unacceptable agreement:
The whole pattern of U.S. aviation agreements with South American countries based upon regulated competition on reciprocally operated routes between major traffic centers would be jeopardized.
Congressional protest, stimulated by certain disappointed U.S. air carriers would almost certainly take the form of a renewed effort to deprive the President of the power to execute agreements, at least in the field of air transport, without the advice and consent of the Senate.

An “Unacceptable” Agreement could have been obtained with Mexico at any time within the past six years. Such an agreement would recognize the concepts of exclusivity on major traffic-generating routes between the two countries or possibly of required stops to give undue competitive advantage to the airlines of Mexico.

An “Acceptable” Agreement with Mexico, based upon the principles espoused by the United States throughout the world, has eluded us, solely because of the continued Mexican insistence upon their “right” to at least one monopoly on an important route (i.e. Los Angeles–Mexico City) and on other devices designed to give competitive advantage to Mexican carriers.

The Present Situation arises from the President’s action, taken on his own initiative, in his letter of September 8, 1952 to the Civil Aeronautics Board (Annex A)3 and his memorandum to you asking the Department to arrange for immediate inauguration of negotiations. The Department complied by sending instructions to Ambassador O’Dwyer (Annex B)4 to seek agreement that the negotiations should be undertaken in the near future in Washington. On Friday, September 19, word was received from Embassy, Mexico that the Mexican Government had informally agreed subject to holding the negotiations in Mexico.

Need for a strong independent Chairman of the U.S. Delegation

The three U.S. carriers, Eastern, Braniff and Western whose inoperative certificates were revoked by the President’s action of September 8 (Annex A), will undoubtedly be extremely and justly critical of the Department and the Administration if the negotiations are not [Page 1333] conducted by a Delegation which would fully appreciate the consequences of an “unacceptable” agreement on the international civil aviation policy of this Government.

The U.S. Chairman of the next negotiation should be a person who is to the maximum extent possible free of pressures but at the same time thoroughly informed concerning the nature of our Mexican difficulties and of the various aspects of U.S. civil aviation policy. Someone with these qualifications, independent of the Government, would be in the best position to evaluate the differences arising in the new negotiations and to reconcile the conflicting political objectives.

There are few men of these qualifications available who also enjoy the confidence of the President as well as of the airlines concerned. Outstanding among these is Dr. Baker, whom you know. It is believed that Dr. Baker would have the knowledge, forcefulness and courage to offset the pressures anticipated.

Concurrence of Civil Aeronautics Board Chairman, Donald W. Nyrop

The action recommended to you was discussed yesterday with Mr. Nyrop who fully shares our apprehension and concurs with the recommendation that you urge Dr. Baker to chair the U.S. Delegation. While Mr. Nyrop carefully stated that he was expressing a personal view and could not speak for his Board, he assured that he will advise the President along the same lines. He further stated that he would be glad to discuss this problem with you at your convenience.

The Secretary of State has full legal authority to negotiate as he deems best: Section 802 of the Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938 provides:

“Sec. 802. The Secretary of State shall advise the Authority of, and consult with the Authority concerning, the negotiation of any agreements with foreign governments for the establishment or development of air navigation, including air routes and services.”

  1. This memorandum was drafted by Director of the Office of Transport and Communications Policy Barringer and cleared by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Mann. A handwritten notation on the source text indicates that the Secretary saw the memorandum.
  2. State Department consultant and former Director of the Office of Transport and Communications Policy, 1945–1946.
  3. Printed as separate document, supra.
  4. Department telegram 383 to Mexico City, Sept. 12, 1952, not printed (611.1294/9–1252).