Cabot files, lot 56 D 13, “Mexico”

The Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs ( Cabot ) to the Ambassador in Mexico ( White )


Dear Francis : I have your letter of February 81 and I am sorry that my memorandum of conversation at the White House was not clearer, I do not think there is any essential difference between the view which you take and that which I took in the course of this conference. One of the principal difficulties with the whole agreement was unquestionably the abuses to which it was subjected by the Mexican consuls. These abuses were the straw that broke the camel’s back. I think we must remember, however, that when wages are 12 to 15 times higher in the United States than they are in Mexico, as you point [Page 1358] out, the question of abuses was not the only reason it broke down. The fact is that it would have been difficult to enforce no matter how smoothly it worked. There was, moreover, the fact that the whole agreement in itself entailed a good deal of red tape for the farmer employer.

My personal feeling is that no agreement—or unilateral arrangement—is going to work well. Because of the immense disparity in the economic levels of the two countries, Mexicans will enter illegally no matter how hard we and they try to prevent it. I do believe, however, that it is very desirable to have a bilateral agreement since it means a great deal in our relations with Mexico.

From our viewpoint the whole wage question is a phony, but I do think we must recognize that the Mexicans are sincere in raising it. It seems to me highly important that we should allay their suspicions on this point. On the other hand, I hope we can convince the Mexicans eventually that no agreement is better than one which does not work in practice, as the former one did not. Granted that abuses were partly responsible for this, I think the basic question is more fundamental.

With every good wish,

Very sincerely yours,

John M. Cabot
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