Mexican oil and American diplomacy




Young, Paul Patterson

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This dissertation in the main treats of the influence of oil on the diplomatic relations between Mexico and the United States. It therefore covers a period of approximately thirty years in which period one sees the beginning, the highest peak of production and the decline of the Mexican oil industry. The diplomatic controversy over oil passed through a similar evolutionary process almost in direct proportion to its economic development. No attempt has been made by the author to give a narrative history of Mexico which already has been surveyed in full. Nor has he even attempted to survey the entire field of diplomatic relations between the two countries since the Mexican Revolution of 1910. There have been a number of bases for disputes in this period, but oil has been the most important. That is why the author has singled out oil from the other points in dispute as a special study. Why did the United States recognize for some eighty years the principle of the Calvo Clause when applied to railroad contracts and refuse to recognize it when Mexico attempted to apply it to the oil industry? Why didn’t the agrarian legislation of the Mexican Revolution produce a repercussion like the petroleum legislation which affected fewer American investors than the former? Why was it that oil was in the background when the relations between the two countries were most strained and most bitter? These and other questions the author has attempted to answer in this monograph. In developing this topic, the author has made use of available primary and secondary material. Some ten months residence in Mexico City in 1932 and 1933 gave him an atmosphere and background of immense value as well as the opportunity to interview persons who had first-hand information on the subject. Certain difficulties have confronted the author in the use of material secured from interviews. In the first place certain people frequently had no documents to back up pertinent statements. A second difficulty was based on their dislike for being quoted since the Mexican Government frowns upon information given by its citizens or foreigners which either reflects upon it or might be used as a basis of claims against it. If the interviewed happened to be landowners or leaseholders or employees of the oil companies, they feared discrimination by the oil companies for revealing any incriminating evidence