443. Telegram 5388 From the Embassy in Mexico to the Department of State, October 2, 1969, 2201Z.1 2

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TELEGRAM
Department of State
MEXICO 5388

O 022201Z OCT 69
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1591

MEXICO 5388

REF: STATE 166422

1. I MET WITH FOREIGN SECRETARY CARRILLO FLORES (UNDERSECRETARY FRAGA ALSO PRESENT) AT LUNCHTIME THURSDAY. WHILE HE WAS CORDIAL, HE WAS PREOCCUPIED AND SOMEWHAT GRIM. HE SAID HE HAD FOUND SITUATION WITH REGARD TO OPERATION INTERCEPT IN MEXICO MUCH WORSE THAN HE HAD SUPPOSED FROM NEW YORK. HE CHARACTERIZED IT AS GRAVEST PROBLEM WHICH HAD ARISEN IN US-MEXICAN RELATIONS DURING HIS ELEVEN-YEAR TENURE AS AMBASSADOR IN WASHINGTON AND FOREIGN SECRETARY.

2. WE DISCUSSED OPERATION INTERCEPT FOR NEARLY AN HOUR DURING WHICH HE WAS TWICE INTERRUPTED BY LONG TELEPHONE CALLS ON SUBJECT FROM PRESIDENT DIAZ ORDAZ. CARRILLO ASSERTED THERE WAS LITTLE POINT IN CRYING OVER SPILT MILK AND THE IMPORTANT THING NOW WAS TO RESTORE US-MEXICAN RELATIONS AS BEST WE COULD. THEREFORE, DIAZ ORDAZ WAS PREPARED FOR BILATERAL DISCUSSIONS IN WASHINGTON AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. PRESIDENT THOUGHT TALKS SHOULD GET TO THE SUBSTANCE OF THE PROBLEM OF RELIEVING THE EFFECT OF OPERATION INTERCEPT ON MEXICO IMMEDIATELY. THEREFORE, BOTH PRESIDENT AND CARRILLO WOULD LIKE TO SUPPRESS INTERMEDIATE STEP OF HAVING DEPUTY ATTORNEY-GENERAL KLEINDIENST COME TO MEXICO AND INSTEAD DESPATCH MEXICAN DELEGATION TO WASHINGTON FORTHWITH.

3. CARRILLO SAID PRESIDENT BELIEVED SITUATION WAS GETTING WORSE EACH DAY AND THAT RELATIONS BETWEEN TWO COUNTRIES WERE [Page 2] BEING POISONED. THEREFORE, IT SEEMED ESSENTIAL TO GET GOVERNMENT-TO-GOVERNMENT TALKS UNDER WAY VERY PROMPTLY. HE THOUGHT IT WOULD CAUSE DELAY FOR KLEINDIENST TO COME HERE FIRST. HE SAID PRESIDENT WAS PERFECTLY WILLING TO HAVE ALL TALKS HERE BUT THAT MEXICAN OFFICIALS FELT IT MIGHT NOT BE WISE FOR U.S. OFFICIALS TO COME HERE NOW IN PRESENT EMBITTERED STATE OF RELATIONS. FURTHERMORE, HE WOULD BE ATTACKED BITTERLY IN PRESS AND HOUNDED BY NEWSMEN.

4. CARRILLO FLORES SAID HE HAD REPORTED IN DETAIL TO PRESIDENT ON HIS CONVERSATIONS WITH THE SECRETARY AND MENTIONED CONVERSATIONS SUBSEQUENT TO THEIR FIRST ONE HAD COME AT SECRETARY’S INITIATIVE AND HAD TAKEN PLACE AT VARIOUS LUNCHEONS. HE CONCLUDED SECRETARY MUCH INTERESTED IN FINDING A SOLUTION TO THIS PROBLEM.

5. CARRILLO SAID THAT MEXICAN DELEGATION AT WASHINGTON TALKS WOULD TAKE FULLY INTO ACCOUNT DRUG PROBLEM IN U.S. AND U.S. RIGHT TO REGULATE IT WITHIN ITS FRONTIERS. HOWEVER, MEXICAN DELEGATION WOULD SEEK SOME AMELIORATION OF PRESENT SITUATION TO ALLEVIATE MEXICAN SUFFERING AND ELIMINATE PRESENT TENSION. HE ADDED DIAZ ORDAZ HAD SUGGESTED THAT OPERATION INTERCEPT BE SUSPENDED WHILE TALKS WERE IN PROGRESS BUT HE DID NOT KNOW WHETHER THIS WAS PRACTICAL.

6. CARRILLO THEN SAID MEXICO WOULD LIKE TO ANNOUNCE HOLDING OF BILATERAL TALKS IN WASHINGTON AS SOON AS POSSIBLE TO DECREASE PRESENT TENSION. HIS PROPOSAL WAS TO ANNOUNCE THAT MEXICAN DELEGATION WAS READY TO DEPART ON FRIDAY, OCTOBER 3 AND WOULD HAVE PRELIMINARY TALKS WITH U.S. OFFICIALS OVER WEEKEND AND THAT FORMAL TALKS WOULD START MONDAY, OCTOBER 6. AFTER A FURTHER TALK WITH DIAZ ORDAZ, FOREIGN SECRETARY STATED THAT MEXICAN DELEGATION WOULD BE HEADED BY DEPUTY ATTORNEY-GENERAL FRANCO RODRIGUEZ AND WOULD INCLUDE A REPRESENTATIVE FROM FOREIGN OFFICE (RABASA), TREASURY AND INTERIOR. (AT THIS POINT HE RELAYED FURTHER MESSAGE FROM DIAZ ORDAZ FOR ME TO EFFECT GOVERNOR OF JALISCO HAD JUST REPORTED RECENT BURNING IN JALISCO OF MARIJUANA TO AMOUNT OF FIFTY MILLION PESOS.)

7. FOREIGN SECRETARY CLOSED URGING IN STRONGEST TERMS THAT U.S. AGREE TO MEXICAN ANNOUNCEMENT FRIDAY THAT TALKS WOULD START IN WASHINGTON ON MONDAY. HE BELIEVED THIS WOULD EASE [Page 3] PRESSURE LOCALLY. HE CONVEYED FINAL PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM DIAZ ORDAZ TO ME TO EFFECT THAT ECONOMIC PROBLEMS CAUSED BY OPERATION INTERCEPT WERE SERIOUS BUT THAT MATTER HAD TRANSCENDED THAT POINT NOW AND HAD BECOME MAJOR POLITICAL ISSUE AND A POINT OF NATIONAL HONOR.

8. RECOMMENDATIONS: I RECOMMEND WE ACCEPT MEXICAN PROPOSAL TO START TALKS ON MONDAY AND PERMIT THEIR ANNOUNCEMENT COVERING THIS POINT TOMORROW. THIS WOULD SEEM A GOOD WAY TO BEGIN SOME ALLEVIATION OF PRESENT CRISIS. MEXICANS ASSUME WE WILL HOLD MEETINGS WITH DELEGATION ON OUR SIDE INCLUDING REPRESENTATIVES OF AT LEAST TREASURY AND STATE DEPARTMENTS. OBVIOUSLY THE FUTURE OF OUR RELATIONS WITH MEXICO FOR THE FORTHCOMING YEARS DEPENDS ON OUR MAKING A SUCCESSFUL COMPROMISE THAT WILL PERMIT OUR ACHIEVING AIMS OF OPERATION INTERCEPT AND AT SAME TIME ABRUPTLY STOPPING FURTHER HUMILIATING MEXICO.
MCBRIDE

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL MEX–US. Confidential; Immediate. In telegram 166422 to Mexico City, October 1, the Department instructed McBride to approach Mexico about bilateral talks. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 787, Country Files, Latin America, Mexico, Vol. I, January–December 31, 1969) Less economically severe Operation Cooperation replaced Operation Intercept on October 10. ( Public Papers: Nixon, 1969, pp. 830–857)
  2. Ambassador McBride reported that he met with Foreign Secretary Carrillo Flores to discuss Operation Intercept and informed him of the Department’s desire to hold bilateral talks in Washington to decrease tensions.