217. Memorandum for the Files, by the Ambassador in Mexico (White)1

SUBJECT

  • Call on President Ruiz Cortines, February 20, 1956

I called on President Ruiz Cortines yesterday evening. He at once mentioned the air transport agreement and said that from his talks with Buchanan we seem to be getting closer. He also said he had suggested to Mr. Olmos that I talk with Buchanan.

[Page 701]

I told the President I got that message last Friday and Mr. Buchanan being out of town over the weekend, I had seen him immediately before calling on the President. I said we were closer but there is still the matter of principle dividing us as regards limitations of traffic.

The President said what he is interested in is to do nothing that will make it impossible for Mexico to compete with us on an equal basis once they have the planes and Mexican companies with the financial resources to do so. He said he recognized that Mexico is not in such a position now and will not be for many years, but he is looking to the long term, of say, fifty years hence.

I told the President that I fully sympathized with that aspiration and we had done our best to meet it in the draft I had given him on February 1. I said that it seemed to us that in the meantime it was short-sighted to have an artificial limitation and keep tourists from coming into Mexico in the numbers they otherwise would if there were sufficient flights. Let Mexico bring in what it can but not stop American companies from bringing in more tourists and there is full provision for future consultation as the situation changes.

The President said that his two preoccupations are, first, to see that they do nothing to preclude Mexico in the future from having her fair share of the traffic, and, secondly, to settle as promptly as possible this matter which has been dragging on for ten years.

I told the President that that was my desire also and that I had asked Mr. Buchanan to give me in writing the wording which he would wish to put into a bilateral convention to meet this situation. The latter had said that he required authorization of the President to do so. The President immediately picked up his telephone, called his secretary and asked him to remind him this morning to speak to Buchanan on the matter. The President said he would do so before leaving town tomorrow to be gone some five days.

I then discussed with the President the Department’s 1286 of February 17.2 He stated that he is perfectly happy to have the tripartite meeting take place at White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, March 26–March 28, and he was, apparently, in full agreement with the constitution of the Mexican group. I emphasized to him that, of course, if he wanted to bring any others that it would be perfectly all right. As to Mexican secret service agents accompanying him he said that he would bring none and then jokingly said that he would consider me his security agent.

President Ruiz Cortines said that, unfortunately, he has no plane capable of making the trip and would be very pleased indeed if an American plane could be sent to Mexico City for him. He said [Page 702]he had no objection whatsoever to the Prime Minister3 flying from Washington with President Eisenhower and then asked if I would discuss details with Mr. Padilla Nervo to clear up the matter. I told the President I would discuss it with Mr. Padilla Nervo today.

I then told President Ruiz Cortines that on Friday I had told Mr. Padilla Nervo that as the result of my last conversation with the President and Mr. Padilla Nervo instructions were sent out last week to all American Consulates in Mexico to require written evidence of employment in the United States before granting visas.

The President was extremely gratified by this and expressed his appreciation and said he thought it would have a most beneficial effect.

I then told the President that as stated in my last talk with him the attorney for the Sabalo claimants had been in Cuernavaca. He had called on me twice and had come up with what I thought was perhaps the best solution of the Sabalo claim. All the shares of stock in the Sabalo Company are held by the claimants and the easiest thing would be to sell these shares to the Mexican Government. The Mexican Government would then own the company and the claim and the purchase could be made through the Treasury, the Bank of Mexico, and the Nacional Financiera. This would bring up no question whatsoever of the court decision.

I said that I had made this suggestion to Mr. Padilla Nervo on Friday and the latter had felt that this offered perhaps the best way out. He had inquired regarding the date of the shares and after talking with Mr. Stoddard Stevens I had told him Friday night at the Austrian Legation that the company was formed in 1931 and Mr. Stevens was sure that the shares are not dated later than 1933, well before the Supreme Court decision. I said that Mr. Stevens left for New York on Saturday and had promised me that he would get the shares out of the safe deposit box, have them photostated and send them to me, and so soon as I receive them I will give them to Mr. Padilla Nervo.

The President seemed to like this idea and thought we were approaching a means of settling the matter.

  1. Source: Department of State, Holland Files: Lot 57 D 295, Mexico. Secret.
  2. Not printed. (Ibid., Central Files, 396.1–WH/2–1756)
  3. Prime Minister Louis S. St. Laurent of Canada.