358. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson 1


  • Status Report on Your April 15 Agreements with President Diaz Ordaz
[Page 758]

Secretary Rusk and Linc Gordon will be in Mexico this weekend for the inauguration of the new Mexican Foreign Office Building.2

I thought you would like to know where we stand on implementation of the decisions you reached with President Diaz Ordaz last April 15, some of which will be discussed by the Secretary and Linc during the visit.

Measures to Expand Border Trade

Ambassador Turkel3 will make this study. He has for the past several weeks been briefing himself on a part-time basis. Next Monday, October 3, he starts full-time work on the project. Professor James Gander will be working with him. Professor Gander has developed a bibliography and collected information on border trade which will serve as the starting point for the project. After briefings and research in Washington, Ambassador Turkel will move his base to El Paso. He plans to have his study completed in about three months. The Mexicans have also named their man.

Consultation on Cotton

Secretary Freeman visited Mexico City June 6–7. He had a full and frank exchange of views with President Diaz Ordaz and other high officials on the cotton pricing problem. He reassured the Mexicans that the U.S. would: (1) not dump cotton, (2) not sell cotton below 22 cents a pound for the marketing year 1966–67, and (3) continue to support Mexico on an international cotton commodity agreement. This trip fulfilled your commitment to the Mexican President.

Since then, the problem of limiting cotton textile imports from Mexico has arisen with which you are familiar. Discussions with the Mexicans continue. Their latest response indicates movement in the direction of a negotiated settlement.

Expeditious Transfer of Chamizal

Commissioner Friedkin is close to completing acquisition of lands now in private hands to be transferred to Mexico under the Chamizal settlement. Federal agencies are also letting bids for the relocation of public utilities now on those lands. Once these tasks are completed, we will be in a position to set a date for the formal transfer. We would like to hold the ceremony on September 25, 1967. This is the anniversary [Page 759] of your meeting with President Lopez Mateos in 1964 for the symbolic transfer. It also gives us time to get the Chamizal Memorial Park and Memorial Highway projects underway so that their dedication can be made part of the ceremony. We have informed the Mexicans of this time-table.

The House has passed a bill authorizing 100% federal financing of the Chamizal Memorial Highway. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has reported out a bill requiring the State of Texas to pick up 50% of the tab. Senator Yarborough will try to have this amount reduced to 10% when the bill goes to conference.4

Commission to Raise Living Standards in Border Communities

State and OEO have developed a comprehensive plan for establishing the Joint Commission, including negotiations with the Mexicans (Stage I), an initial study of economic and social problems of the border communities (Stage II), and specific proposals for administering and financing our part of the program likely to emerge from the study (Stage III). You have authorized action on Stages I and II. State reviewed the proposals with the House and Senate Latin American Subcommittee and ran into no significant problems. Secretary Rusk and Linc Gordon will be discussing them with the Mexicans this weekend. On his return next week, Linc will call Ambassador Telles to express your wish that he take the chairmanship of the U.S. Section of the Commission.

Creation of Lincoln–Juarez Scholarship Funds

State has worked out a plan for funding our part of the program and selecting the scholars. It has also prepared detailed proposals for the creation of a Joint Commission to supervise the operations of the two funds and has asked Ambassador Freeman to discuss them with the Mexicans. Secretary Rusk and Linc will be following up on this matter.

Increase in Cultural Exchange

Charlie Frankel5 has done an excellent job of stepping up the flow of U.S. cultural programs to Mexico. I sent you his first report last May. At Tab A6 is his most recent account of what he has done. Getting the Mexicans to reciprocate looms as a problem.

[Page 760]

Rio Colorado Salinity

The Mexicans have been concerned that (1) our ground water recovery program on the lower Colorado River would reduce the underground water flows to Mexico and (2) our substituting these recovered waters for surface waters in the river water delivered to them under the 1944 Water Treaty would leave Mexico with poor quality water.

State and Interior have reached agreement on the nature of the assurances to be given to Mexico on these points. Secretary Udall is going to Mexico in November to present the assurances.

This summer Mexico asked us for additional water to cover an acute shortage. Despite our tight situation, Interior agreed to lend them 40,535 acre feet to be repaid over a period of time depending on the adequacy of our runoffs next year.

Gulf of California Nuclear Desalinization Plant

The Joint Study Group is continuing its pre-feasibilities studies. The pace of their work has moved more slowly than we would like. Our members have virtually completed their assignments. But the Mexicans have not kept pace. At their request, a meeting of the Group scheduled for October has been postponed to January, or later.

W. W. Rostow 7
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President, Walt W. Rostow, Vol. 13. Confidential. A copy was sent to Moyers.
  2. Rusk was in Mexico City, September 30–October 1. Memoranda of his conversation with Díaz Ordaz on September 30 are in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, ARA/MEX Files: Lot 69 D 377, POL 7 Visit—Secretary Rusk.
  3. Ambassador Harry Bulletin, January 9, 1967, pp. 70–71)
  4. The final version of the bill (PL 89–795), which was signed into law on November 8, placed a ceiling of $8 million on the federal contribution to the Chamizal highway. (80 Stat. 1477)
  5. Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs.
  6. Attached but not printed.
  7. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.