811.504 Mexico/1–345

Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. William G. MacLean of the Division of Mexican Affairs

Participants: Mr. Rafael de la Colina, Minister Counselor of the Mexican Embassy;
Mr. Luis Padilla Nervo, Official Mayor of the Mexican Ministry of Labor;
Mr. Wilson Cowan, Assistant Administrator of the War Food Administration;
Brigadier General Philip G. Bruton, Chief, Office of Labor, War Food Administration;
Messrs. John W. Carrigan and William G. MacLean, Division of Mexican Affairs.

Under instructions from his Government, Mr. Padilla Nervo came to Washington to discuss the question of workers brought to this country under the two existing agreements,39 as well as Mexican illegal entrants in the United States. The discussions at this meeting were [Page 1138] confined to the Mexican agricultural workers in the United States under the revised agreement of April 26, 1943.

Mr. Padilla Nervo said that he would be very interested to have any available information regarding this Government’s plans for the use of Mexican agricultural workers in 1945. General Bruton stated that recent war developments might cause change in plans already agreed upon which provided for the bringing in of 60,000 workers in 1945, as compared with approximately 68,000 here at the peak season of 1944. (The Mexican Government has set 75,000 as the number it can make available at any given time.) General Bruton said that the announcement made yesterday by Justice Byrnes40 that farm workers between the ages of eighteen and twenty-six who now had exemptions would be called up under Selective Service would make it especially important to carry through the 1945 program for Mexican workers. He said that he and Mr. Cowan had planned to go to Mexico City about January 9 to discuss arrangements with the Embassy and the interested officials of the Mexican Government. He said it might still be necessary to go, but no doubt many questions could be advanced by the discussions with Mr. Padilla Nervo.

Mr. Padilla Nervo brought up the subject of unsatisfactory working conditions which caused many complaints by workers in the states of Michigan, Wyoming, Nebraska, and North Dakota, principally in the production of sugar beets. He said that the complaints of the workers had caused much embarrassment for the Government of Mexico and that the workers had passed the word from one to another that the states mentioned were very undesirable places for them to work. The discontent of these workers, he pointed out, made it necessary for the Mexican Government to consider some special arrangements to prevent a repetition of the situation.

General Bruton recognized the difficulties and said that steps were being taken to insist on improvement in the areas and industry mentioned as a condition to the assignment of workers in 1945. Mr. Padilla suggested that his Government might find it necessary to insist that workers be told before their departure from Mexico what was to be their destination. In that way, he thought that those who accepted work in areas from which complaints had previously arisen would have less reason to embarrass his Government by complaints if they were not satisfied. General Bruton stated that the first workers would probably be recruited in the month of February, and they would no doubt go to California, where the need for them came early in the year. He said that that would give more time to work out the problems [Page 1139] in connection with the states mentioned, which badly needed workers in any event.

General Bruton said he would have certain studies made for Mr. Padilla to present to him early in the week of January 8, when a further meeting on this subject would be held. Both General Bruton and Mr. Cowan expressed, during the meeting, appropriate thanks for Mexico’s cooperation in this vital program.

  1. Agreement concerning temporary migration to the United States of Mexican, agricultural workers effected by exchange of notes signed at Mexico City August 4, 1942, as revised by agreement signed at Mexico City April 26, 1943, and agreement relating to recruitment of non-agricultural workers effected by exchange of notes signed at Mexico City April 29, 1943. For texts of agreements, see Department of State Executive Agreement Series Nos. 278, 351, and 376, or 56 Stat. (pt. 2) 1759, 57 Stat. (pt. 2) 1152, and 57 Stat. (pt. 2) 1353, respectively. For documentation relating to the negotiation of these agreements, see Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. vi, pp. 537 ff., and ibid., 1943, vol. vi, pp. 531 ff.
  2. Former Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court James F. Byrnes, Director of the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion.