451. Telegram 1588 From the Embassy in Mexico to the Department of State, April 3, 1970, 2340Z.1 2

[Page 1]

TELEGRAM
Department of State
MEXICO 1588

P 032340Z APR 70

FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3097

MEXICO 1588

REF MEXICO 1517

1. PRIOR TO PRESENTATION OF MOON PARTICLES TO PRESIDENT DIAZ ORDAZ IN PUBLIC CEREMONY, I HAD AN HOUR ALONE WITH HIM DISCUSSING PRESIDENT NIXON’S MEETING WITH HIM WHICH RAISED NUMEROUS OTHER MATTERS WHICH HE RELATED IN HIS MIND TO THE VISIT. AT OUTSET, DIAZ ORDAZ SAID HE WOULD BE VERY PLEASED TO MEET WITH PRESIDENT OF U.S. AND THAT IN GENERAL I SHOULD CONVEY TO WHITE HOUSE AND TO STATE DEPT HIS UNALTERABLE DEDICATION TO FRIENDSHIP BETWEEN TWO NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES. HE HELD FORTH AT SOME LENGTH WITH REGARD TO HIS FUNDAMENTAL DETERMINATION TO SEEK IMPROVED RELATIONS IN THIS CONTEXT. THEREFORE, HE SAID, HE WAS HAPPY TO EFFECT THIS MEETING REGARDLESS OF DETAILS AND CIRCUMSTANCES. HE WAS MOST CATEGORIC THAT THIS THOUGHT SHOULD BE CONVEYED ACCURATELY TO WASHINGTON.

2. AFTER THIS, DIAZ ORDAZ STRESSED STRONG DESIRABILITY FROM HIS VIEWPOINT THAT THE FORTHCOMING ENCOUNTER SHOULD HAVE SOME SUBSTANCE. HE SAID THAT THESE MEETINGS WERE OF MUCH LESS VITAL SIGNIFICANCE TO U.S. THAN TO MEXICO. HE SAID THAT FOR MEXICO ITS PRINCIPAL EMBASSY WAS IN WASHINGTON FOR OBVIOUS REASONS BUT THAT REVERSE WAS OBVIOUSLY NOT NECESSARILY THE CASE. THEREFORE, HE ADDED, HE HOPED PRESIDENT NIXON WOULD UNDERSTAND NEED FROM HIS VIEWPOINT FOR SOMETHING SUBSTANTIVE TO PRESENT TO MEXICAN PUBLIC OPINION AFTER SUCH AN ENCOUNTER.

3. DIAZ ORDAZ THEN DWELT AT SOME LENGTH ON LASTING DAMAGE DONE BY OPERATION INTERCEPT TO HIS OWN STANDING WITH MEXICAN PEOPLE AS WELL AS CONTINUING HARM BEING DONE BY DELAYS AT BORDER, [Page 2] ESPECIALLY TIJUANA AND CIUDAD JUAREZ. HE SAID OTHER MEXICAN OFFICIALS WERE OBVIOUSLY AFRAID TO TELL ME HOW BAD SITUATION REMAINED AT BORDER BUT HE NOTED THAT AS PRESIDENT HE FELT OBLIGED TO BE UTTERLY FRANK. DIAZ ORDAZ ADDED THAT HIS OWN POSITION AND CREDIBILITY WITH MEXICAN PEOPLE HAD SUFFERED AS RESULT OF AMISTAD DAM MEETING WITH PRESIDENT NIXON BEING HELD IN AIR OF AMITY FOLLOWED A FEW DAYS LATER BY “BRUTAL ACTION” OF U.S. GOVT IN STARTING OPERATION INTERCEPT. HE SAID HE COULD NOT AFFORD ANOTHER SUCH EPISODE AND BEGGED USG, IF IT WERE ANTICIPATING ANY ACTIONS ADVERSE TO MEXICAN INTERESTS, TO INFORM HIM IN ADVANCE OF THE MEETING SO THAT HE COULD TAKE NECESSARY PRECAUTIONS. HE SAID, HOWEVER, THAT SUCH WAS HIS DESIRE FOR MEETING, THAT HE, WOULD WANT IT HELD EVEN IF WE WERE PLANNING SOME ACTION ADVERSE TO MEXICO SUCH AS SOME STEP WITH REGARD TO SECTION 807 OF TARIFF ACT, PROVIDED HE WERE INFORMED IN ADVANCE. HE REITERATED HIS OWN VERY FAVORABLE REACTION TO HIS MEETING AT AMISTAD DAM SITE WITH PRESIDENT NIXON.

4. WITH REGARD TO HIS DESIRE FOR SOME CONCRETE RESULT FROM HIS MEETING WITH PRESIDENT NIXON, DIAZ ORDAZ THEN REFERRED TO OTHER “OLD PROBLEMS” BETWEEN OUR TWO COUNTRIES WHICH HE SAID HE HAD FAILED TO SOLVE. HE HELD FORTH AT LENGTH AGAIN ABOUT IN-BOND WAREHOUSE PROBLEM, GREEN CARD WORKERS, “BRACEROS”, ETC. HE SAID HE REALIZED IT WAS DIFFICULT FOR US TO DO ANYTHING MUCH ABOUT MANY OF THESE PROBLEMS. ONCE AGAIN HE SAID PRESENT SITUATION WITH REGARD TO IN-BOND WAREHOUSES WAS OF LESS BENEFIT TO U.S. INTERESTS THAN IF THEY WERE ABOLISHED AND MEXICANS FREE TO SPEND THIS MONEY FOR PURELY U.S. PRODUCTS IN MUCH WIDER RANGE OF STORES. HE REPEATED HIS VIEW THAT PRESENT SITUATION WAS ILLOGICAL IN THAT ONLY NON-US GOODS WERE INVOLVED.

5. DIAZ ORDAZ THEN SAID HE WOULD BE VERY GRATEFUL IF WE COULD SUGGEST SOME FIELD IN WHICH PROGRESS COULD BE ANNOUNCED FOLLOWING MEETING. HE SAID THIS WAS VERY IMPORTANT TO HIM. I NOTED THAT FOREIGN SECRETARY HAD SUGGESTED SIGNING OF ARTIFACTS AGREEMENT ON THAT OCCASION. HE BELIEVED THIS WOULD BE FINE BUT HOPED SOMETHING A LITTLE MORE SIGNIFICANT COULD BE FOUND. HE DID NOT HAVE ANY SPECIFIC PROPOSALS IN THIS CONTEXT BEYOND EXPRESSING HOPE ONCE MORE THAT SOMETHING COULD BE DONE ABOUT IN-BOND WAREHOUSE SITUATION. HE ALSO STATED AT GREAT LENGTH VERY DIFFICULT POSITION HE WAS IN WITH REGARD TO SMALL MEXICAN MERCHANTS BECAUSE OF [Page 3] SEVERE LIMITATIONS ON AMOUNTS OF GOODS US CITIZENS COULD TAKE IN FROM MEXICO.

6. DIAZ ORDAZ ALSO EXPRESSED HOPE THAT FOLLOWING MEETING WE WOULD NOT ANNOUNCE TAX ON TOURIST TRAVEL TO MEXICO. I EXPLAINED SITUATION AND HE SAID HE HOPED PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT COULD BE GIVEN BY US TO MEXICO AND CANADA AS NEIGHBORS IN FASHION IN WHICH MEXICO GAVE BENEFITS TO US AND GUATEMALA AS NEIGHBORS FOR TOURIST TRAVEL. HE SAID THAT RELATIONS BETWEEN OUR TWO COUNTRIES HAD IMPROVED SINCE LAST FALL BUT WAS STILL BELOW PREVIOUS PLATEAU. HE STATED THAT HE WAS ENCOURAGED BY FACT THAT HIS ATTORNEY GENERAL (SANCHEZ VARGAS) HAD RETURNED SO SATISFIED WITH MARCH NARCOTICS TALKS IN WASHINGTON. HE SAID SANCHEZ VARGAS HAD BEEN ENORMOUSLY IMPRESSED WITH EFFORT TO WHICH ATTORNEY-GENERAL MITCHELL HAD GONE TO IMPROVE RELATIONS BETWEEN MEXICO AND US AND TO RUB OUT EFFECTS OF OPERATION INTERCEPT.

7. PRESIDENT OF MEXICO EXPRESSED WITH SOME DISCOURAGEMENT HE HAD NOT BEEN ABLE TO SETTLE ANY ISSUES WITH US IN A LONG TIME AND HOPED THAT HE COULD STILL DO SOMETHING BEFORE LEAVING OFFICE. BEFORE PASSING TO SPECIFICS, HE REITERATED NEED TO CONVEY TO PRESIDENT NIXON HIS PROFOUND RESPECT AND HIS SATISFACTION AT PROSPECT [Page 4] OF MEETING HE SAID HE HAD RAISED FOREGOING PROBLEMS BECAUSE HE FELT HIS RESPONSIBILITY TO DO SO BEFORE US PRESIDENT’S ONLY AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE IN MEXICO.

8. DIAZ ORDAZ THEN SAID HE WOULD BE DELIGHTED TO MEET WITH PRESIDENT AT ANY PLACE IN MEXICO OF OUR CHOICE OR IN US IF PRESIDENT WISHED. HE SAID IN HIS OWN VIEW MEXICO CITY WAS LEAST DESIRABLE PLACE TO MEET BECAUSE IT LED TO MAJOR PROTOCOL REQUIREMENTS. HE MENTIONED A DOZEN OTHER PLACES WHICH HE SAID WOULD BE APPROPRIATE DEPENDING ON WHETHER PRESIDENT WOULD BE IN CALIFORNIA OR IN WASHINGTON. AMONG PLACES HE MENTIONED WERE GUAYMAS, MAZATLAN AND LA PAZ IN WEST OR ISLAND OF COZUMEL IN EAST. HE SPECIFICALLY SAID HE BELIEVED THAT MEETING IN ACAPULCO WOULD PERHAPS BE BEST OF ALL. I SAID I BELIEVED ACAPULCO WOULD BE QUITE SATISFACTORY FROM OUR VIEWPOINT. HE SAID WE COULD SELECT ANY PLACE IN MEXICO WE WISHED ON COAST OR PLACE LIKE GUADALAJARA IN INTERIOR IF WE PREFERRED. HE ALSO REITERATED HIS WILLINGNESS TO GO TO US IF THAT TURNED OUT TO BE MOST DESIRABLE ALTERNATIVE.

9. WITH REGARD TO TIMING, DIAZ ORDAZ HAD LITTLE TO SAY BEYOND ASKING ME TO KEEP IN TOUCH WITH FOREIGN SECRETARY ON THIS PROBLEM, BUT HE DID ASK ME TO EXPLAIN TO PRESIDENT NIXON EXTREME DIFFICULTY OF LATE AUGUST FROM HIS VIEWPOINT BECAUSE OF “ESOTERIC RITUAL” OF PREPARING AND GIVING HIS INFORME (STATE OF UNION MESSAGE) ON SEPTEMBER 1. HE SAID THIS WAS IMPORTANT TO MEXICAN PEOPLE IN SPITE OF ITS LENGTH AND RATHER BORING NATURE. HE SAID HE HAD MAJOR DUTIES FIRST WEEK OR SO OF SEPTEMBER BECAUSE OF NEED FOR RECEIVING MANY PEOPLE HERE AT THAT TIME. HOWEVER, HE LEFT OPEN POSSIBILITY OF MEETING AT ANY TIME AND LEFT QUESTION OF TIMING TO BE WORKED OUT.

[Page 5]

10. FINAL MAJOR THEME OF MEETING TOUCHED ON INTERVIEW BETWEEN PRESIDENT NIXON AND ECHEVERRIA. DIAZ ORDAZ SAID HE THOUGHT THE SOONER THIS TOOK PLACE THE BETTER. HE ADDED THAT CARRILLO FLORES HAD MADE A MISTAKE WHEN HE HAD TOLD ME THAT DIAZ ORDAZ HAD NOT MET WITH PRESIDENT JOHNSON UNTIL NOVEMBER 1964 BECAUSE HE HAD NOT BEEN CONFIRMED BY PARLIAMENT. DIAZ ORDAZ ADDED THAT HE HAD NOT ACCEPTED PRESIDENT JOHNSON’S INVITATION TO MEETING IN AUGUST 1964 BECAUSE PRESIDENT JOHNSON WAS A CANDIDATE FOR THE PRESIDENCY AS WELL AS PRESIDENT. THEREFORE, HE HAD PREFERRED TO WAIT UNTIL AFTER OUR ELECTIONS BEFORE VISITING US. HE SEEMED QUITE ANNOYED THAT CARRILLO HAD MADE THIS POINT TO ME AND STRESSED THAT ECHEVERRIA WAS FREE TO MEET WITH PRESIDENT AT ANY TIME AFTER HIS SELECTION ON JULY 5.

11. DIAZ ORDAZ THEN SAID HE WAS PLEASED I HAD SUCH EXCELLENT CONTACT WITH ECHEVERRIA AND SUGGESTED THAT I KEEP IN TOUCH WITH HIM ON THIS AND OTHER MATTERS. HE SAW NO DIFFICULTY WHATEVER IN MEETING BETWEEN PRESIDENT AND ECHEVERRIA WHENEVER THE TWO DESIRED. IT WAS LEFT THAT I WOULD CHECK QUESTION OF TIMING FROM ECHEVERRIA’S VIEWPOINT WITH LATTER WHEN HE MIGHT BE AVAILABLE AGAIN IN MEXICO CITY (END OF APRIL, I BELIEVE). DIAZ ORDAZ WAS EXTREMELY EMPHATIC ON THIS POINT AND SAID I SHOULD BE ONLY US CONTACT WITH ECHEVERRIA ON THIS AND OTHER OFFICIAL BUSINESS SINCE ONLY I COULD SPEAK AS PRESIDENT’S REPRESENTATIVE.

12. COMMENT: SUBJECT OF MEETING IS OBVIOUSLY OF DEEP INTEREST TO DIAZ ORDAZ AND HE WAS AS USUAL MOST ANIMATED AND EMPHATIC WITH ME IN DISCUSSING A TOPIC OF MAJOR IMPORTANCE TO HIM. IT IS ABUNDANTLY CLEAR DIAZ ORDAZ WISHES THIS MEETING AND IS GIVING US WIDE FLEXIBILITY IN ARRANGING TIME, PLACE AND AGENDA. IT IS EQUALLY OBVIOUS HE PROFOUNDLY HOPES THERE WILL BE SOME CONCRETE RESULT EMANATING THEREFROM AND ABOVE ALL THAT THERE SHOULD NOT BE DISAGREEABLE SURPRISES AFTER THE MEETING. HOWEVER, HIS FINAL WORDS WERE TO TELL THE PRESIDENT THAT HE WOULD BE VERY PLEASED TO MEET WITH HIM AGAIN BEFORE THE EXPRITY OF THE MEXICAN PRESIDENT’S MANDATE AND WAS LOOKING TO THIS ENCOUNTER AT A TIME AND PLACE TO BE WORKED OUT. HE CONCLUDED THAT IN THESE ASPECTS OF THE ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE SESSION HE WAS MOST ANXIOUS TO PLEASE PRESIDENT NIXON, WHO WOULD BE MOST WARMLY RECEIVED ANYWHERE IN MEXICO.
MCBRIDE

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 787, Country Files, Latin America, Mexico, Vol. II, January 1, 1970–December 31, 1971. Confidential; Priority; Exdis. A stamped notation on the telegram indicates that it was received at the White House Situation Room at 9:59 a.m. on April 4.
  2. In a one-hour meeting with Ambassador McBride, after discussing the damage done to United States-Mexican relations by Operation Intercept and indicating that he could not afford another such episode, President Díaz Ordaz expressed the hope that old problems between the U.S. and Mexico could be resolved.