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Sheppard, Hon. Morris, United States Senator from the State of Texas.-
DEPOSITED DY ML UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
AUG 10 39
TUESDAY, JUNE 20, 1939
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D.O. The committee met at 10 a. m., Hon. Sol Bloom (acting chairman) presiding.
Mr. BLOOM. The committee will come to order.
(The bill under consideration, S. 326, and the report thereon follows:)
AN ACT For the payment of awards and appraisals heretofore made in favor of citizens
of the United States on claims presented under the General Claims Convention of September 8, 1923, United States and Mexico
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the principal amounts of all awards in favor of citizens of the United States against the United Mexican States heretofore made by the Commissions established by the General Claims Convention of September 8, 1923, United States and Mexico, and extensions thereof, on claims presented under said convention, plus interest stipulated in any such award and accruing up to the date of such award, and the principal amounts of all appraisals of such claims in favor of citizens of the United States heretofore made by the Commissioners appointed by the United States and Mexico for said purpose pursuant to the protocol of April 24, 1934, and agreed upon in their report, plus interest stipulated in any such appraisal and accruing up to the date of said report, shall be paid immediately by the Government of the United States to the person or persons entitled to the same, and that appropriations for such payment of all such awards and agreed appraisals, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, be, and hereby are, authorized : Provided, That the Secretary of State shall certify to the Secretary of the Treasury all such awards and appraisals, whereupon the Secretary of the Treasury shall determine the amounts to be paid on each in conformity with this Act, and shall designate the person or persons entitled to receive such payments: Provided further, That when the person or persons entitled to receive any such payments have received same on any such award or appraisal, such person or persons will be deemed to have consented to all of the provisions of this Act, and all of the rights and interests of such person or persons in and to such award or appraisal, and the respective claim to which it pertains, will be deemed to have been fully satisfied and paid, and said award or appraisal, and the claim to which same pertains, and all of the rights and interests of such person or persons in respect thereto, shall be held to have been assigned to the United States to be enforced by and on behalf of the United States against the United Mexican States: And provided further, That awards and appraisals authorized to be paid by this Act shall be included in the final settlement between the Governments of the United States of America and the United Mexican States under the said convention of September 8, 1923; and the payment of any award or appraisal under this Act shall not be construed as the satisfaction, in whole or in part, of any such award or appraisal, or as extinguishing or diminishing the liability of the United Mexican States for the satisfaction in full of such awards and appraisals, but shall be
considered only as an advance by the United States until all of said awards and appraisals have been paid off and satisfied in full to the United States by the United Mexican States. Passed the Senate April 20 (legislative day, April 19), 1939. Attest:
EDWIN A. HALSEY, Secretary.
[H. Rept. 875, 76th Cong., 1st sess.)
The Committee on Foreign Affairs, to whom was referred the bill (S. 326) for the payment of awards and appraisals heretofore made in favor of citizens of the United States on claims presented under the General Claims Convention of September 8, 1923, United States and Mexico, having considered the same, report favorably thereon without amendment and recommend that the bill do pass.
During the Seventy-fifth Congress your committee reported a similar bill on May 26, 1938 (S. 3104, Rept. No. 2496).
The facts in support of this proposed legislation are contained in the following report, as follows:
[S. Rept. No. 3, 76th Cong., 1st sess., in part]
The bill provides that the amounts on the dates thereof of all awards and appraisals of claims of cititzens of the United States against the Republic of Mexico allowed by the General Claims Commission appointed under the conventions of September 8, 1923, and extensions thereof, and by the Commissioners appointed under the protocol of April 24, 1934, shall be paid immediately to the claimants or award holders, and authorizes an appropriation for such payment, provided that all awards thus paid shall be included in the final settlement between the United States and Mexico under the terms of the convention between the two Governments concluded September 8, 1923. Upon the payment of these awards the United States will be subrogated to all the rights of the award holders, pending the ultimate payment of the net amount of awards by Mexico, as hereinafter indicated.
In an effort to reach a satisfactory understanding respecting questions at issue between the United States and Mexico, and looking to the resumption of diplomatic relations between the two countries, President Harding, on May 2, 1923, appointed two American commissioners to meet with two Mexican commissioners, and conferences were held in Mexico City from May 14 to August 15, 1923. These diplomatic negotiations resulted, among other things, in an agreement for a Special Claims Convention providing for the settlement of claims of American citizens arising from revolutionary acts in Mexico from November 20, 1910, to May 31, 1920, and a General Claims Convention providing for the settlement of claims of citizens of each country against the other originating since July 4, 1868, except those claims covered by the Special Claims Convention. At the final meeting of the commissioners on August 15, 1923, it was stated on behalf of both Governments that the Special and General Claims Conventions, the terms of which had already been agreed upon, would be consummated in the event that diplomatic relations were resumed between the two Governments. Such diplomatic relations were resumed September 3, 1923, and later ratified by the Senate and by the President, and the General Claims Convention was proclaimed by President Coolidge March 3, 1924.
The General Claims Convention provided in article I that all claims of citizens of the United States against Mexico, except those arising from acts incidental to recent revolutions, for losses or damages suffered by persons or by their properties, and all such claims by citizens of Mexico against the United States of America, should be submitted to a commission consisting of three members for decision in accordance with the principles of international law, justice, and équity; and article V of the convention provided that “The high contracting parties, being desirous of effecting an equitable settlement of the claims of their respective citizens thereby affording them just and adequate compensation for their losses and damages, agree that no claim shall be disallowed or rejected by the Commission by the application of the general principle of international law that the legal remedies must be exhausted as a condition precedent to the validity or allowance of any claim."
Under article VI of the convention all claims accruing prior to the signing of the convention had to be filled with the General Claims Commission within 1 year from the date of its first meeting unless satisfactory reasons for delay existed, in which case the period might be extended not to exceed 6 months; and article VIII of the convention provided that such claims not so fled with the Commission should "be considered and treated as fully settled, barred, and thenceforth inadmissible.”
The effect of these provisions of the convention was to compel the citizen to turn his claim over to the Government for presentation to the Commission to keep the claim from becoming barred or noncollectible; and such turning of the claim over to the Government involved, as held by the Commission in the case of William Parker, Commission Docket 127, the surrender by the citizen of all right of control over the claim and vesting in the Government the absolute and exclusive right to control it, and to "exercise an untrammeled discretion in determining when and how the claim shall be presented and pressed, or withdrawn or compromised, and the private owner would be found by the action taken.” The Supreme Court has also recognized that “no nation treats with a citizen of another nation except through his government” (Frelinghuysen V. Key, 110 U. S. 63).
It was also required by article VI of the convention that all such claims filed by either Government which originated before the date of the convention should be decided within 3 years from the date of the first meeting of the General Claims Commission, the provision of the convention being as follows: "The Commission shall be bound to hear, examine, and decide, within 3 years from the date of its first meeting, all the claims filed,” except those originating after the signing of the convention as covered by article VII of the convention.
Under article VII any claim accruing after the signing of the convention could be filed within the 3-year period fixed for the duration of the term of the Commission, and if any such claim so filed remained undecided at the end of such 3-year period, the two Goverments agreed to extend the time for deciding such claims for such period as might be necessary for that purpose. There is, however, no provision in the convention of September 8, 1923, authorizing the extension of the life of the Commission to decide claims which originated prior to the date of the convention.
From all these provisions it appears evident that it was contemplated at the time the convention was entered into that all claims filed would be decided within the 3-year term fixed for the life of the Commission, plus such additional time as might be found necessary to finish decided claims filed with the Commission which originated after the signing of the convention. And the fact that citizens turned their claims over to the Government for settlement under such a program cannot be overlooked in determining the right of citizen given an award to have such award now paid.
The General Claims Commission held its first meeting on August 30, 1924, and the 3-year term of its duration expired, therefore, on August 30, 1927. The convention of September 8, 1923, was extended by a new convention signed on August 16, 1927, because it appeared that the Commission could not decide the claims submitted to it within the 3 years originally specified. Although the convention contained no authority for extending the term of the Commission for the purpose of deciding claims which had accrued prior to September 8, 1923, nevertheless this extension did cover claims accruing prior to the date, and also claims accruing between said date and August 30, 1927, but expressly denied jurisdiction to the Commission over any claim accruing subsequent to August 30, 1927.
The duration of the General Claims Commission with the same jurisdiction was further extended from August 30, 1929, for an additional period of 2 years, or until August 30, 1931, by the terms of another convention entered into September 2, 1929, between the United States and Mexico; and was further extended by a third extension convention signed between the two Governments on June 8, 1932, for a period of 2 years, or from August 30, 1931, to August 30, 1933. It is noted that the life of the General Claims Commission was allowed to lapse on August 30, 1929, and again on August 30, 1931, but was revived by the conventions subsequently entered into as above stated.
Finally, on April 24, 1934, a protocol was entered into between the United States and Mexico for the purpose of simplifying the procedure of the General Claims Commission and deciding as promptly as possible those claims of each Government against the other which were comprehended by and filed in: pur