452. Telegram 2213 From the Embassy in Mexico to the Department of State, May 6, 1970, 1933Z.1 2

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TELEGRAM
Department of State
MEXICO 2213

R 061933Z MAY 70

FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 2213

MEXICO 2213

1. DURING RECENT CONVERSATION WITH ECHEVERRIA, HE MADE FOLLOWING POINTS TO ME WITH REGARD TO ORDER PROBLEMS:

A) HE HAS ORDERED THAT NEW STUDIES BE MADE ON SALINITY ISSUE. HE SUMMONED HERRERA JORDAN FOR THIS PURPOSE AND TOLD HIM HE HAD OPEN MIND ON THIS WHOLE PROBLEM. HE WISHED TO HAVE BENEFIT OF LATEST INFORMATION SO HE COULD STUDY MATTER BETWEEN TIME OF HIS ELECTION AND HIS INAUGURATION ON DECEMBER 1. HE ADDED THAT HE REALIZED THE WHOLE BURDEN OF FUTURE DECISIONS ON SALINITY WOULD DEPEND ON HIM. ALTHOUGH HE STRESSED HIS OWN OBJECTIVE APPROACH TO SALINITY MATTER, HE ALSO MENTIONED NEED TO PREVENT INHABITANTS OF MEXICALI FROM GETTING INTO EVER-AGITATED FRAME OF MIND. HE DESCRIBED THEIR PRESENT ATTITUDE AS ONE OF BEING EXTREMELY DISTURBED BY CONDITIONS IN MEXICALI VALLEY DESPITE SOME IMPROVEMENT IN SALINITY SITUATION OVER RECENT YEARS SINCE 1965 AGREEMENT WENT INTO EFFECT.

B) ECHEVERRIA HAS VISITED NUMEROUS BORDER INDUSTRIES AND TALKED WITH BOTH MANAGEMENT AND LABOR. HE FOUND MEXICAN LABOR EMPLOYED IN BORDER INDUSTRIES, MOSTLY YOUNG GIRLS, EXTREMELY PLEASED WITH THEIR SITUATION. WITH REGARD TO MANAGEMENT, HE LIKEWISE FOUND GENERAL SATISFACTION THOUGH, OF COURSE, SOME FEAR THAT OPPOSITION BY U.S. UNIONS WOULD TERMINATE PRESENT SITUATION. ECHEVERRIA ASKED REGARDING STATUS OF TARIFF COMMISSION HEARINGS ON THIS SUBJECT AND I INFORMED HIM. HE ASKED ME TO KEEP HIM CLOSELY ADVISED ON THIS TOPIC BECAUSE OF ITS TRANSCENDENTAL IMPORTANCE TO MEXICO.

C) ECHEVERRIA SEEMED QUITE RELAXED ABOUT BORDER CROSSING SITUATION. HE SAID HIS FORMER MINISTRY (INTERIOR) HAD KEPT HIM CLOSELY INFORMED AND HE DID NOT BELIEVE THERE WERE ANY CURRENT PROBLEMS. HE REGRETTED DIFFICULTIES CAUSED LAST FALL BUT THOUGHT [Page 2] NET OUTCOME HAD BEEN GOOD DEMONSTRATION OF MEXICAN-AMERICAN FRIENDSHIP AND GOOD WILL.

D) ECHEVERRIA DID NOT TOUCH ON OJINAGA-PRESIDIO PROBLEM AND I SAW NO REASON TO RAISE IT.

2. COMMENT: CLASSIFICATION OF THIS TELEGRAM IS NOT DUE TO ITS SUBSTANCE BUT BECAUSE OF ECHEVERRIA’S EXTREME SENSITIVITY TO PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE THAT HE IS MEETING REGULARLY WITH U.S. AMBASSADOR. HE APPEARS GENUINELY INTERESTED IN KEEPING IN CLOSE TOUCH WITH ME BUT HE WISHES KNOWLEDGE OF THIS FACT TO REMAIN IN VERY FEW HANDS.
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; Exdis.
  2. Presidential candidate Luis Echeverría discussed border problems with Ambassador McBride, including salinity, border industries, immigration, and the Ojinaga issue.