349. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Mann) to Secretary of State Rusk 1

SUBJECT

  • Mexican Elections, July 5

The Mexican presidential campaign, ending with the July 5 elections, has been unusually active with minority parties, both left and right, having been encouraged by the dominant “official” party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), to campaign forcefully in opposition to the Government. In early April, there was some fear that the PRI’s policy of an open campaign might result in violence especially in outlying rural areas. This fear was heightened, on April 6, when PRI candidate Gustavo Diaz Ordaz found himself in the midst of an unfriendly demonstration mounted by leftists and communists in the northern city of Chihuahua. The PRI did not meaningfully curb the leftist opposition but it did greatly increase the security protection for Diaz Ordaz. This proved sufficient to deter demonstrators and the rest of the campaign was almost completely free of disturbances.

It is expected that Diaz Ordaz will win the kind of overwhelming victory that PRI presidential candidates are accustomed to.2 Current Mexico City guesses are that he will get between 85 and 90 percent of the popular vote with most of the remainder going to the conservative National Action Party (PAN). Except for the marxist Popular Socialist Party (PPS), no communist or far leftist parties are registered for participation in the election. A communist party, the Peoples Electoral Front (FEP), is running a candidate, even though the party is unregistered, and he will probably get several thousand write-in votes.

PRI presidential nomination.

A specific conclusion that can be drawn from Diaz Ordaz’ campaign speeches, traditionally general in their content, is that the candidate is determined realistically to attack the problem of rural poverty in Mexico. To effect the necessary changes, Diaz Ordaz will have to [Page 743]force the Mexican bureaucracy to bring to bear on the agrarian problem a number of essential technical, financial and other institutional reforms. In foreign affairs, the Diaz Ordaz administration may from time to time take positions closer to ours than was the case under the Lopez Mateos Administration, but no major shifts in Mexican policy are expected in the short run.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, ARA/MEX Files: Lot 71 D 188, POL 14 Diaz Ordaz Election—1964. Confidential. Drafted by Harry Bergold (ARA/MEX) and initialed for Mann by Adams. A notation on the memorandum indicates that Rusk saw it.
  2. Díaz Ordaz won the presidential election with approximately 88 percent of the vote.