436. Memoranda of Meetings1 2

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  • The President
  • President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz of Mexico
  • Mr. Donald F. Barnes, Interpreter, Department of State


  • Meeting at Dedication of Amistad Dam

PART 1 El Salvador-Honduras Conflict

President Nixon asked President Diaz Ordaz for his views on this crisis. The latter replied that it was basically an economic demographic problem: El Salvador had too many people on too small a land area, with resulting unemployment, and Honduras had more land and less population density, but still with an unemployment problem. He said the crisis had subsided somewhat, but that there was always the danger of another flare-up. He said that it was important that arms sales to either country be prevented, adding that if Honduras received any arms, they would undoubtedly come out on top, since they were tougher fighters. President Diaz Ordaz went on to suggest that the U.S. should grant quick credits to both countries, for projects that involved manpower rather than machinery. He said that the credits should not be given through AID but rather through some international financial institution, but with the U.S. making it clearly understood somehow that the credits would be cut off if any further incidents took place. In response to a question by President Nixon on the advisability of [Page 2] pushing for joint projects, President Diaz Ordaz said that it was premature to think in terms of joint projects for the time being, and that in the future, after tensions had been eased, it might be a good idea to think of a joint project, probably in the same area where Salvadoran troops had crossed the border.

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PART 2 The Nixon Administration

President Diaz Ordaz said that he had been highly pleased and encouraged by the accomplishments of the Nixon Administration so far. He said that the President’s trips to Europe and Asia had contributed a great deal to the reduction of world tensions.

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PART 3 Future Meetings

President Nixon said that he thought that it would be useful for him to meet again with President Diaz Ordaz in the future, and that arrangements for such a meeting could be worked out through diplomatic channels. He said that President Diaz Ordaz had been in Washington within the past two years, and that this fact might make it inadvisable to meet in the U.S. capital. He went on to say that, although he did not plan to travel in the coming months, there were several possibilities: he would be happy to travel to Mexico City, or perhaps the Mexican President could come to California during 1970, when that state would be celebrating its 200th anniversary. Perhaps both locations could be included.

President Nixon said that he would like to hear President Diaz Ordaz’ views on the possibility of developing a meeting in Latin America where several chiefs of state might meet with him, some people had expressed concern over his going to Latin America. He was trying to find a way to avoid slighting the rest of Latin America.

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President Diaz Ordaz said that he believed that a meeting between President Nixon and his Latin American counterparts could be very useful, provided the U.S. went to such a meeting with concrete actions in mind. He added that the Punta del Este summit had led to nothing but further frustration for the people of Latin America.

President Nixon replied that in his view the weakness of American policy towards Latin America in the past had been that there had been too many slogans and promises and too few accomplishments. He said that he had received Governor Rockefeller’s report just a few days ago, and that he had also requested various U.S. Government agencies to take a new look at U.S.-Latin American relations in the fields of finance, trade, etc. Perhaps if new approaches emerged out of these efforts, it would be timely to think specifically of such a meeting.

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PART 4 Narcotics

President Nixon said that he had asked Ambassador McBride to keep in close touch with the Mexican Government on any bilateral matter, be it connected to the border or not. He said that narcotics were a source of great concern to many Americans, and that he would appreciate any cooperation that Mexico could give in this field.

President Diaz Ordaz said that he would be happy to help in any way that he could. He added that narcotics were no major problem in Mexico as far as consumption was concerned, since there were only a few marihuana users and they were poor. He was aware of the problem in the U.S. Mexico conducts strenuous campaigns to eliminate centers of poppy and marihuana production, at a high cost in money and lives of federal agents and troops. He said that poppy and marihuana growers obtained credit and seeds easily, and that one successful crop brought them income that would require several years of effort in legitimate crops. He added that the change in administration in the U.S. was perhaps the reason for an interruption of aid to Mexico in the narcotics control field. He said that his country needed additional light planes and helicopters, not in great quantities, but enough to continue its campaign.

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PART 5 Additional Bilateral Matters

As the meeting was breaking up, President Diaz Ordaz said that there were three additional matters he would like to discuss with President Nixon: braceros, duty-free shops, and arms sales. He said that increasing numbers of braceros were crossing the border illegally. He said that to ignore this problem did not mean that it did not exist. With regard to duty-free shops, President Diaz Ordaz said that he did not understand why they were permitted to exist, since they sold many European products, and did not represent much revenue for the United States. Finally, he said that he was concerned over arms coming into Mexico from the U.S. He explained that he did not fear a revolution, but that Mexicans were violent people, and each weapon represented a potential killing. He would like the U.S. Government to report to Mexico any arms that might be headed across the border. Whether attempts were made to bring them into the country legally or illegally, the Mexican Government would try to stop them. President Nixon made a note of these three items, and said that he would have them looked into.

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PART 6 Ambassador Elbrick’s Kidnapping

As the Presidents were leaving the meeting room, President Nixon thanked President Diaz Ordaz for Mexico’s assistance in obtaining Ambassador Elbrick’s release. President Diaz Ordaz said that Mexico had done very little, but that he had been happy to assist. He added that Mexico would face problems with the fifteen Brazilians in the coming weeks, since some of them were very dangerous, especially the MR–8 men, since this particular movement had a lot of money in Switzerland.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 33–1 MEX–US. Secret; Exdis. The memoranda of meetings consist of six parts.
  2. During the dedication of the Amistad Dam, Presidents Nixon and Díaz Ordaz discussed bilateral relations and regional affairs. Topics included narcotics, trade issues, and Mexico’s assistance in securing the release of Ambassador Elbrick, who had been kidnapped by Brazilian terrorists.