216. Memorandum From J. Paul Barringer of the Office of Transport and Communications to the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (Prochnow)1


  • Mexican Aviation Negotiations—Meeting with the Under Secretary
  • January 25 to discuss limited information that might be given to Congress concerning this subject


Pursuant to your telephone request, TRC has considered this matter and discussed it with ARA/MID.
At the express request of the President, all information concerning these negotiations has been classified on a “need to know basis.” As far as is known, Departmental officers and officials of the Civil Aeronautics Board have meticulously adhered to the President’s orders.
It is inevitable that, with Congress again in session and in an election year, considerable pressure will be leveled at the White House, the Department and the CAB by sectional interests such as the New Orleans area and Southern California in an attempt to ascertain the present status of the negotiations. TRC and MID agree that disclosure of any but the most general information and the possible resultant publicity could only damage the objectives of the US in these negotiations.
On Monday, January 16, CAB Chairman Rizley met with the Under Secretary, Mr. Kalijarvi and Mr. Barringer, to ascertain the appropriate line to take in answer to Congressional inquiries. The Under Secretary agreed that discussion for the public record would [Page 699] be respectfully avoided. Limited general information only should be given at “executive sessions,” approximately as follows: “Appropriate agencies of the Executive Branch are working constantly and assiduously to bring this matter to a successful solution; negotiations with a friendly neighboring country are now in a very delicate stage which might be prejudiced by public attention; and the US was adhering in the negotiations to the basic principles underlying all of its international air transport agreements.”
For your information there is annexed a brief résumé of the recent history of these negotiations.


In view of the present state of the negotiations, the release of any public information which might give rise to press comment would inevitably be counter-productive to the US objectives in the negotiations. The most desirable course of action would seem to be to avoid all questions on the basis of the President’s classification of the matter and to await the Mexican reaction. Should this reaction be negative or should a period of more than two months elapse without answer, the CAB should be free to issue the Show Cause order.2


That you suggest to the Under Secretary that Congressional, industry and public inquiries should be answered only in accordance with the line which he suggested to Mr. Rizley on January 16 as set forth in paragraph 4.


Brief Résumé of Recent History of Mexican Aviation Negotiations

In May 1955 the White House, the Department and the Civil Aeronautics Board agreed upon a course of action:
The American Ambassador to Mexico was to reject a previous Mexican offer for a route exchange which again called for an exclusive Mexican right on the Los Angeles-Mexico City route.
A counter-offer was to be made to the Mexican Government which incorporated the basic US principle of equal competitive opportunity on all major routes between the two countries.
If Mexico refused the counter-offer, the CAB would issue an order requiring the Mexican carrier, CMA, to show cause why it should not be required to terminate its monopoly service to Los Angeles.
Unavoidable delays prevented delivery of the US counter-offer to Mexico until September.
In October the Mexican Minister of Transport3 gave the American Ambassador an informal memorandum containing another Mexican counter-proposal. This proposal involved an equal division of the service to be offered on the major routes, thereby guaranteeing the Mexican carriers a share of the market. This new Mexican proposal was submitted to the CAB.
On November 30 the Board wrote to the Department and suggested an application of a formula to the amount of service to be offered by both countries on the routes to be mutually flown.4 This suggestion involved a basic change in US policy.
On January 5 the Board revised the position taken in its letter of November 30 and submitted a final route offer based upon a standard Bermuda type agreement.
The American Ambassador was to present this proposal on Wednesday, January 18, but it is understood that the President of Mexico cancelled the appointment and that the counter-proposal has as yet not been made.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.1294/1–2556. Confidential.
  2. Reference is to a proposal that the CAB initiate legal action which could have culminated in the termination of operations in the United States by Companía Mexicana de Aviacíon.
  3. Walter C. Buchanan, Acting Minister of Communications and Public Works.
  4. Not printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 611.1294/11–3055)