218. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Holland) to the Secretary of State1


  • Negotiations Regarding Mexican Aviation Agreement

Late yesterday Ambassador White telephoned and said that the Department’s Special Aviation Counselor, Mr. Dana Latham, had come to Mexico and conferred with him on Monday, February 27. Mr. Latham transmitted an instruction that the Ambassador serve an ultimatum on the Mexican government that unless immediate progress were made in our aviation negotiations the CAB would institute proceedings to cancel the license of Companía de Aviación to operate in the United States. The Ambassador declined to do so, saying that even if such instructions were transmitted to him by official channels, he would, before complying with them, respectfully submit to the Department his reasons for considering them unwise.

The Ambassador was speaking in rather guarded terms, and it is possible that the foregoing may not reflect with complete accuracy what occurred. If it does, however, I feel that the Ambassador has saved us from a mistake.

It was my understanding that Mr. Latham went to Mexico to consult with the Ambassador regarding the state of our negotiations. I would have recommended against any instruction that the Ambassador submit any ultimatum to the Mexicans in the present state of negotiations.

These negotiations have been slow. There has been much needless delay, more of it attributable to the United States in recent months than to Mexico. Our last proposal from the Mexicans was received on October 18. It was not until January 31 that our counter-proposal was submitted to them. The Mexican Minister of Communication gave Ambassador White a copy of the memorandum that he was delivering to the President commenting on our counter-proposal. It leaves in dispute only one major issue, that of regulation of traffic. The Ambassador has had one rather constructive conference with the President since that time and expects to have another within the next few days. He has cabled for certain guidance for use in those discussions. It has been requested of the CAB, but nothing has been received for transmission to the Ambassador.

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It is my judgment that an ultimatum to the Mexicans just at this time would prejudice rather than further our negotiations.


There may be aspects of this problem of which I am unaware and which would make my opinion inaccurate. Since it appears that instructions may have been given to the Ambassador which are inconsistent with my understanding of how this matter is being handled, I suggest that we meet to decide on a coordinated course of action.2

  1. Source: Department of State, Holland Files: Lot 57 D 295, Mexico Aviation Agreement. Confidential; Eyes Only. Also addressed to the Under Secretary of State.
  2. In a memorandum to Acting Secretary Hoover, dated March 6, Assistant Secretary Holland wrote: “On March 1 Ambassador White spoke with Mexican Minister of Finance Carrillo Flores re the aviation agreement matter and told him among other things that political pressure is building up urging the Civil Aeronautics Board to issue a show cause order against ‘the two Mexican airlines operating to the United States.’ He went on to say the Civil Aeronautics Board is an independent body and it can and does take action independently of the Department and its wishes.” (Ibid.)