Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State


Foreign Minister Padilla Nervo of Mexico called today to say he brought a personal message from the President of Mexico to affirm the friendship of our two countries and the determination of the Mexican Government to develop the most cordial relations. The Foreign Minister said that he felt that relations already were excellent and indeed that there was no time in our history when the feeling in Mexico towards the United States was as good as at the present time. He deplored some trouble-making articles written by Sydney Gruson of the New York Times, and said that he had often thought of asking the Times to substitute someone else to cover their Latin-American relations. I asked how he got along with Ambassador White. He said that he had the greatest respect for him, but felt that sometimes he was a little too rigid and “strong” in his presentation of matters, and did not adequately take into account the susceptibility of the Mexican people.

The Foreign Minister then went on to talk at great length about the problem of the Guatemalans who had sought asylum in the Mexican Embassy. He obviously felt that the United States position as presented by Ambassador White had been too exacting—in asking that they should either be returned to the present Government of Guatemala or sent to Iron Curtain countries. He referred to the Convention on Asylum to which Mexico was a party. He also said that on matters which involved points of honor, the Mexican people were highly sensitive. He said they would accept material sacrifice, such as was involved in the devaluation of the peso; but that if the national honor was touched, then they reacted strongly and unanimously. He felt that it was best to let the refugees disappear into anonymity rather than to make martyrs of them.

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I then showed the Foreign Minister the draft of what I proposed to say in my UN speech with reference to the Organization of American States and Guatemala.1 I said I did not want to say anything that could be offensive to his Government or hurt our relations. He read the statement and indicated only some slight reservations. He was obviously embarrassed lest the fact that Mexico had abstained at Caracas would be interpreted as indicating they were not sympathetic with the anti-Communist policy. He asked me to put in at one point “without exception” to indicate a present unanimity of viewpoint.

The Foreign Minister referred to the personal relations which had existed between us for many years and the high regard which he said he had of me, and wanted me to know that if ever the relations between our countries seemed embarrassed or strained, he was sure that he and I could personally find a solution.

John Foster Dulles
  1. The text of Secretary Dulles’ address before the United Nations, delivered on Sept. 23, 1954, is printed in the Department of State Bulletin, Oct. 4, 1954, pp. 471–477.