All of North America is now involved in the fight against the Axis Powers. Earlier this week, the Mexican government announced its first ever declaration of war, following the sinking of the Mexican tanker Potrero del Llano by a German U-boat on May 14.
From the day the tanker was torpedoed, killing 13 of the crewmen, many Mexicans began calling for vengeance and tensions grew immense. A group of leftist Mexican radicals stormed the German-owned casino Deutsches Haus, calling the owners “servants of Hitler.” They stoned the building, which led to a German youth stabbing a Mexican citizen.
At the time, Leon Garcia, one of Mexico’s leading Senators, said, “we cannot think of a declaration of war, but it is the president who must decide.”
Foreign Minister Ezequiel Padilla said that the Axis Powers have had many admirable achievements, “but precisely because they are strong they represent great danger.”
President Manuel Avila Camacho was hesitant to enter war immediately after the sinking of the Potrero del Llano. He said that if national honor could be satisfied without war, he would choose that route instead. However, on May 21, the Mexican Foreign Office reported that Germany refused to accept Mexico’s protest against the sinking of the tanker.
This denial from Germany would lead Mexico to “make a decision commensurate with Mexico’s national honor,” according to government officials, which meant that Mexico would soon be at war.
The next night, the Mexican government declared war on the Axis Powers.
General Salvador Sanchez, chief of the Mexican army’s general staff, said that “all measures have been taken” to prepare for a war crisis.
The Navy Department has taken control of all lighthouses and other aids to navigation to use them in the interest of national security. Troops have begun to patrol the capital, Mexico City, and other cities – the Mexican army is now responsible for public order during the war.
Troops reportedly began moving to strategic zones to protect railway bridges, tunnels, communication lines, war factories, airfields, oil fields and pipelines. The oil wells on the Gulf and Pacific coasts are vulnerable to Axis submarine attacks, which has been seen happening to Dutch installations at Curacao in South America.
Due to Mexico’s previous title as a neutral country, a high population of Axis citizens reside there. As a result of this, small detachments of troops have been patrolling important Axis establishments in the country.
U.S. officials suspect that the Mexican government will soon seize funds and properties belonging to Axis nationals (mainly Germans) in Mexico.
It is also expected that the Mexican Congress will enact new measures against Axis aliens. About 6,000 Germans, 4,000 Japanese and 2,000 Italians may be sent to the United States to be placed in existing internment camps – especially those who have made it known that they are Axis sympathizers.
Camacho declared war under article 29 of the country’s constitution, which states that in the case of “invasion or grave disturbance or anything else puts the nation in great danger or in conflict,” the president can declare war on another nation to protect Mexico.
HAROLD CALLENDER (1942, May 24). “MEXICO IS RUSHING WAR PREPARATION.” New York Times. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/106440375?accountid=13793
HAROLD CALLENDER “Mexico Nears War on Axis as Nazis Scorn Her Protest.” New York Times, May 22, 1942. http://search.proquest.com/docview/106460358?accountid=13793.
“Axis Submarines in Gulf of Mexico for First Time, Sink Two Vessels.” New York Times, May 10, 1942. http://search.proquest.com/docview/106322581?accountid=13793.
Associated Press, “Mexico Swiftly Puts Defenses on War Basis.” The Washington Post, May 24, 1942. http://search.proquest.com/docview/151546900?accountid=13793.
HAROLD CALLENDER, “ANGER OF PUBLIC GROWS IN MEXICO.” New York Times, May 16, 1942. http://search.proquest.com/docview/106457744?accountid=13793.
“MEXICO TO INTENSIFY HER PATROLS IN GULF.” New York Times, May 17, 1942. http://search.proquest.com/docview/106425237?accountid=13793.