The Charlotte News
Sunday, July 7, 1940
Site Ed. Note: Cash's report on Mexico's presidential election was especially poignant as it preceded his own death in Mexico City by six days short of a year. Ávila Camacho, Lazaro Cárdenas' hand-picked successor, did win the election by a tally of about 60% to 40%. Almazán, backed in fact by fascist money and forces operating in Mexico, including expressed and embraced support by Franco in Spain, actively disputed the results and claimed fraud at the polls, a likely fact as Cash points out. Many of Almazán's backers had urged him to stage a military coups on inauguration day and take over the presidency by force, a coups de theatre which had repeated itself many times over since the beginning of the Revolution in 1910. Though rumors persisted that it would occur right up until inauguration day in December, 1940, Almazán refused his backers' sympathies and Camacho was peacefully installed. This election, therefore, is said to mark the end of the revolution as it was the first in thirty years which was not tainted by some form of dramatic assassination or exile of an opponent, and it succeeded the extensive popular reforms of Cárdenas which redistributed large landholdings under the ejido system to small peasant farmers and expropriated oil holdings of British and American companies. Cárdenas had been president since 1934 and Camacho would be president until 1946. Almazán enjoyed a variety of support, including the Socialist Toledano, and had promised to revisit the expropriation issue to the delight of British and American oil companies, but never again had much influence on Mexico's politics. Cárdenas' son, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Solórzano, ran unsuccessfully three times for the presidency of Mexico between 1988 and 2000.
Writing in his memoirs, Josephus Daniels recounted from his diary entry of June 29, 1940 that he received a call from the Polish foreign minister advising that he believed an attack on the American Embassy likely by Nazi insurgents who would kill or wound the Ambassador and his wife to provoke an invasion of Mexico by the United States and thus open the door to Nazi propaganda. The French minister had said the same day that he felt such an attack not likely but that "there is nothing the Nazi agents would stop at if they could make trouble between the United States and Mexico". On July 4, 1940, Daniels received a New York Herald-Tribune reporter who told him that the word was the Embassy would be attacked by Nazi saboteurs that very day. (Shirt-Sleeve Diplomat, Josephus Daniels, Chapel Hill, 1941, pp. 503-504) Daniels stated that while he never took seriously such threats on the Embassy, he was well aware of the "struggle between the forces of fascist reaction and those of democratic resistance" then present in Mexico City. (Id.; p. 347) Of the election on this July 7, Daniels wrote: "This has been the most hectic week of my [seven year] stay in Mexico and the most distressing also, and disappointing. I had hoped that the election would pass off without disturbance and the result would be accepted without resort to bullets, but the revolutionary spirit in Mexico which has flamed so fiercely in the past is not altogether gone and the two opposing forces, unwilling to get together to secure a fair election, chose to resort to methods that resulted in the killing of many people and the wounding of many more. Both sides claim that the majority of the people favored their candidate, and there is a rumor that when Congress convenes in September there will be an attempt to seat two sets of Congressmen, one favoring Ávila Camacho and one Almazán. Some people think it may result in serious conditions, but as Congress does not meet until September, there is cooling time." (Id., pp. 82-83)
Such then was the roiling atmosphere in Mexico at the time Cash writes "Trouble Spot".
Hitler Warns He Will Not Accept Monroe Doctrine
Ultimately more important for us than the destruction of the French fleet last week was the German note handed to Cordell Hull, in reply to the general notice of the Senate's action in specifically reaffirming the Monroe Doctrine.
The note began with the usual Nazi run-around--the delivery in an injured tone of the announcement that Germany had never given anybody the slightest reason to believe that she had any designs in this hemisphere. It is the measure of the sincerity of the whole performance. For it brazenly ignores the fact that this Government is well aware of the fact that at this moment Nazi agents are busy stirring up revolution in all Latin-American countries, and that in Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico, and Guatemala they are far advanced toward their purpose. And that Nazi agents are also busy in the United States itself to the same end--that they are industriously fomenting disaffection, wholesale sabotage, and treason, as they have fomented these things in every country which has fallen victim to the brutal horde.
But if there was any doubt left as to the Nazi intention, it was cleared up by the fact that the note went on flatly to deny the right of the United States to assert the Monroe Doctrine as a bar to Germany securing territories in this hemisphere. That, it said, would be "untenable," since it would "amount to conferring upon some European countries the right to possess territories in the Western Hemisphere and not to (sic) other European countries."
But it is the same kind of approach once used on Poland. Examination of the speeches Hitler made in the period between the conquest of Austria and the invasion of Poland will show that he continually assured the latter that he had no designs upon it, would never go to war with it, and at the same time continually asserted a "legal" claim to Danzig and the Corridor.
In this move he attempts to lull us as he lulled Poland until he was ready, and at the same time sets up an exactly similar "legal" and "logical" base for action when he believes the time for it has come.
In short, while we are greased we are also served with flat notice that he hasn't the faintest notion of relinquishing his claims on the territories of Britain and France in this hemisphere if he wins. Nobody who knew anything about Adolf Hitler ever believed that he would relinquish them. But it should serve to clear the air of illusions cherished by our many wish-thinkers.
The French possessions in this hemisphere include only Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, and certain small islands off Canada. But if even they should fall into Hitler's hands, we should be in deadly danger, for they represent both naval and air bases for attack upon us. And if we once granted his right to these, we cannot logically deny his right to the British possessions which ring us on all sides. His control of these British possessions would make the United States his prisoner.
We now have our definite and unmistakable notice as to his intentions. He means, when he judges the time to be right, to establish himself solidly in this hemisphere, for the purpose of dominating it and bringing it into the Nazi pattern as he is now bringing Europe. We must take our measures accordingly, and without further argument about what it is we are up against.
And we must be prepared not only to use force but to meet cunning. He will redouble his efforts to lull us as time goes on. We must not forget the Danish and Portuguese possessions, as well as those of Britain and France, for the first are stepping stones to the second. We must not be deluded with his promises to be satisfied only with a crumb or two, or with nothing at all until he is ready. And we must take into account that he may well attempt for awhile to leave matters as they are, to have it that the French and British possessions are still the property of France and Britain and control them through Nazi stooge governments. That would be just as fatal for us as outright seizure to begin with.
In the case of France we are already close to this question. For the moment the British are holding the French islands under control by naval patrol. But it is a precarious situation. And it is a real question if we ought not to withdraw recognition from the so-called French Government, which is plainly neither legal under the French constitution nor sovereign, and take these French possessions in this hemisphere under our protection, to be returned in case France should eventually be restored to the status of a sovereign power.
Mexican Election Is Likely To Bring Forth Conflict
That trouble is coming out of the election in Mexico today is almost a foregone conclusion.
General Almazan, the anti-Cardenas candidate, has announced that he will lead a revolt "if an attempt is made to thwart the will of the people by imposing upon them a President not of their own choosing."
General Almazan represents the landed interests of Mexico and has promised if elected to reverse the Cardenas policy toward American oil companies and to co-operate with the United States Government. But there is some ground to believe that he is at the same time playing hand in glove with the Nazi agents who are now so numerous and busy in Mexico, and that his promises are more by way of getting funds to finance his campaign than anything else.
At any rate, his threat is ominous. He has ground to be afraid that he will be counted out even though elected. Official Mexican count is not made until two months after the election, and then it is made exclusively by the party in power, which in this case is of course that of Cardenas and his hand-picked candidate. There never has been an honest election in Mexico under the Constitution of 1916.
On the other hand, Almazan's announcement amounts to a threat that he had better be counted in as elected or that he'll seize power by force.
And an attempt to go through with that would be likely to set off a rebellion on the part of the Cardenas candidate, perhaps with Communist backing.
Concerning Those Who Turned Thumbs Down on Knox
The only names of particular interest among the nine Senators on the Naval Committee who voted to approve the appointment of Colonel Frank Knox, Republican, as Secretary of the Navy were those of Chairman Walsh and Senator Byrd of Virginia. Walsh is an isolationist, but he seems to retain some perspective about it. And Byrd is a bitter anti-New Dealer who seems willing to waive that question when it comes to getting a man of great energy into a position of the first importance for national defense.
But all five of those who voted against approval are worth noting. They were:
Rush Holt--a lame duck rejected by the people of West Virginia at the last election, and full of bite toward Roosevelt as being somehow the cause of it. Not so much an isolationist as a chronic obstructionist.
Bone of Washington--a rabid isolationist who has got his political fortunes tied to the line that the President is trying to get us into an unnecessary war.
Hiram Johnson of California--the man with the biggest vested interest in the isolationist position. If he admitted it was wrong, his whole political career would be proved a mistake. Indeed, if he admitted it was wrong, he would be in the position of having, along with Borah, Lodge the First, and Jim Reed, grossly misled this country for 21 years.
Tydings of Maryland--a bitter anti-New Dealer, who was scheduled for the "purge" in his last election, and who neither forgives nor forgets.
Cotton Ed Smith of South Carolina--ditto for Tydings, and in addition a man who just naturally could not make up his mind to vote for a Republican if he knew the destiny of the race hung on it.
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