455. Message WH01239 From Viron P. Vaky of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), Washington, July 30, 1970, 1932Z.1 2

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RECEIVED LOS ANGELES COMMCTR
2:10 P.M. 30 JULY 1970

O 301932Z JUL 70
FM VIRON P. VAKY
TO GEN.HAIG FOR HENRY KISSINGER

WHO 1239

SUBJECT: MEXICAN BOUNDARY SETTLEMENT

THE FOLLOWING IS A STATUS REPORT ON THE BOUNDARY SETTLEMENT WITH BACKGROUND TO HIGHLIGHT THE PRESENT SITUATION:

THE BOUNDARY SETTLEMENT WE HAVE BEEN DISCUSSING IS A GENERAL ONE WHICH WOULD SETTLE ALL EXISTING PROBLEMS ALONG THE WHOLE LENGTH OF THE BORDER, AS WELL AS ESTABLISH AGREED-UPON PROCEDURES FOR SETTLING FUTURE PROBLEMS ARISING FROM SHIFTS IN THE COURSE OF THE RIO GRANDE.

THE SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPORTANCE OF SUCH A GENERAL SETTLEMENT LIES NOT IN THE CONFIRMATION OF ANY PARTICULAR TERRITORIAL DIVISION, BUT IN THE SETTLEMENT OF LONG-PENDING DISPUTES AND DIFFERENCES (SOME OVER 50 YEARS) ALONG THE ENTIRE BORDER, THE RESTORATION OF THE RIO GRANDE AS THE INTERNATIONAL BOUNDARY EVERYWHERE FROM EL PASO TO THE GULF, AND IN AGREEMENT ON THE PROCEDURES WHICH CAN PREVENT FUTURE DISPUTES.

WE HAVE REACHED AGREEMENT ON ALL BUT TWO POINTS:

1. HOW TO DEFINE THE MARITIME BOUNDARY EXTENDING OUT OF THE MOUTH OF THE RIO GRANDE, SINCE THAT MOUTH SHIFTS; AND

2. HOW TO DIVIDE THE PRESIDIO-OJINAGA TRACTS, JUST ABOVE PRESIDIO, TEXAS. THIS DISPUTE HAS BEEN PENDING SINCE 1907.

CARRILLO FLORES HAS IN EFFECT OFFERED (MEXICO CABLE 4096) TO AGREE TO OUR FORMULA FOR THE MARITIME BOUNDRY IF WE WOULD AGREE TO THEIRS FOR OJINAGA.

THE OJINAGA TRACT IS ABOUT 2160 ACRES. WE BELIEVE WE HAVE A GOOD HISTORICAL CLAIM TO ABOUT 60 PER CENT OF IT, BUT HAVE OFFERED TO SPLIT IT APPROXIMATELY 50–50. THE MEXICANS HAVE REFUSED THAT AND INSIST ON 75 PER CENT. IN MAY THE FOREIGN MINISTER SAID ORALLY TO MCBRIDE THAT PERHAPS THE DIFFERENCE COULD BE SPLIT TO GIVE MEXICO 62 1/2 PER CENT. BUT HE HAS NOT REPEATED THAT THOUGHT, AND MOST RECENTLY HAS AGAIN REASSERTED THE 75 PER CENT CLAIM.

WE ARE THUS AT THE POINT WHERE THE ENTIRE BOUNDARY SETTLEMENT NOW HINGES ON AGREEMENT ON OJINAGA. IF WE DO NOT GO BEYOND OUR PRESENT 50–50 POSITION WE WILL NOT REACH AGREEMENT WITH DIAZ ORDAZ IN TIME FOR THE AUG. 20 MEETING AND, THEREFORE, IN EFFECT FOR THE REST OF HIS TERM. WE WILL THEN HAVE TO DEFER ANY FURTHER ATTEMPT TO GET AN AGREEMENT ON OUR TERMS UNTIL ECHEVERRIA TAKES OFFICE, AND THAT WILL MEAN IN EFFECT ALMOST STARTING ALL OVER, BEFORE WE CAN GET BACK TO THE RECEPTIVE POINT WE ARE AT NOW. MOREOVER, IT IS UNLIKELY THAT ECHEVERRIA WILL ACCEPT ANY TIME SOON A PROPOSAL THAT DIAZ ORDAZ HAD REJECTED.

DIAZ ORDAZ MIGHT SETTLE FOR 62 1/2 PER CENT BUT THE PROSPECTS ARE NOT GREAT. IF WE TRY TO BARGAIN BY OFFERING THAT FIRST AND THEN FALLING BACK TO 75 PER CENT WE RISK WASTING TIME, AND IRRITATING DIAZ ORDAZ TO THE POINT WHERE HE WILL GIVE UP TRYING TO SETTLE BY AUGUST 20 OR BEFORE HE LEAVES OFFICE.

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THE DISADVANTAGE OF MOVING IMMEDIATELY TO AGREE TO THE MEXICANS’ POSITION OF 75 PER CENT IS THAT

--WE WILL APPEAR TO HAVE BEEN “SOFT” NEGOTIATORS;

--WE WILL CEDE LAND TO WHICH WE BELIEVE WE HAVE A DEMONSTRABLY STRONGER CLAIM THAN MEXICO; AND

--LOCAL RESIDENTS MAY CREATE SOME CONGRESSIONAL OPPOSITION TO RATIFICATION OF THE TREATY.

THE DIFFERENCE INVOLVED, HOWEVER, IS ONLY ABOUT 500 ACRES WORTH AN ESTIMATED $250,000. IT IS UNINHABITED FARM LAND PRESENTLY OF MARGINAL VALUE. THE RELINQUISHMENT OF OUR ADMITTEDLY GOOD CLAIM WOULD ESTABLISH NO DANGEROUS PRECEDENT SINCE THE GENERAL BOUNDARY SETTLEMENT WOULD LEAVE NO OTHER TRACTS OF THIS NATURE IN DISPUTE AND LITTLE PROSPECT OF FUTURE DISPUTES BECAUSE OF AGREEMENT NOW ON FUTURE PROCEDURES.

AGREEING TO THE MEXICAN POSITION NOW ON THE OTHER HAND WOULD

--INSURE A GENERAL SETTLEMENT;

--GAIN US OUR POSITION ON THE MARITIME BOUNDARY WHICH IS ECONOMICALLY FAR MORE IMPORTANT BECAUSE OF THE MARITIME RESOURCES EXPLOITATION.

THE PROBLEM IN MOVING IMMEDIATELY TO THE MEXICAN POSITION IS TWO-FOLD--SUBSTANTIVE AND BUREAUCRATIC.

--SOME CONGRESSMEN HAVE OPPOSED A “GENEROUS” SETTLEMENT. CONSULTATION TO DATE HAS EXPLAINED OUR POSITION AS 50–50. TO INSURE SENATE RATIFICATION WE ARE CONSULTING AGAIN TO EXPLAIN WHY WE ARE MOVING TO A MORE GENEROUS POSITION, BUT SENATOR TOWER MAY BE A PROBLEM.

--PRESENT NEGOTIATING INSTRUCTIONS APPROVED BY SECRETARY ROGERS LIMIT THE NEGOTIATORS TO OFFERING 50–50. ARA HAS GONE BACK TO THE SECRETARY TO ASK FOR AUTHORITY TO OFFER 62 1/2 AND TO BE ABLE TO FALL BACK TO OFFERING 75 PER CENT. THE SECRETARY DIRECTED THAT THE NEGOTIATORS BE INSTRUCTED TO OFFER 62 1/2 PER CENT AND THEY NOT BE TOLD THEY CAN FALL BACK; BUT HE HIMSELF IS PREPARED TO FALL BACK LATER IF THE NEGOTIATORS CANNOT SELL THE 62 PER CENT. HE HAS, HOWEVER, AUTHORIZED STATE TO CONSULT THE CONGRESS ON THE 75 PER CENT FALL BACK FIGURE. AS IT PRESENTLY STANDS, THEREFORE, THE SECRETARY IS TREATING IT AS A BARGAINING PROBLEM IN WHICH WE GIVE UP SLOWLY TO GAIN MAXIMUM ADVANTAGE AND WRITE A RECORD. OUR NEGOTIATORS HAVE NO AUTHORITY AT THIS POINT TO AGREE TO 75 PER CENT FOR THE MEXICANS.

THE SECRETARY’S POSITION HAS THE MERIT OF BEING SURE WE GET THE BEST DIVISION POSSIBLE AND TESTING THE MEXICANS’ WILL. ON THE OTHER HAND, IT RISKS DELAY THAT MIGHT LOSE US THE CHANCE FOR AN OVERALL SETTLEMENT FOR THE SAKE OF A REALLY TRIFLING AMOUNT OF LAND WITH MARGINAL VALUE.

THUS, IF YOU WISH FIRM ASSURANCE THAT THE BOUNDARY SETTLEMENT WILL BE ACHIEVED BEFORE THE PUERTO VALLARTA MEETING, A PHONE CALL FROM THE PRESIDENT OR YOU MAY BE REQUIRED TO LET THE SECRETARY KNOW THAT THE PRESIDENT STRONGLY WISHES TO HAVE AN AGREEMENT CONCLUDED BY AUGUST 20, AND THAT THE NEGOTIATING INSTRUCTIONS SHOULD BE MODIFIED ACCORDINGLY. THIS MEANS THAT WE WOULD APPROACH THE OJINAGA ISSUE NOT AS A HARD-HEADED BARGAINING PROPOSITION, BUT AS A GENEROUS GESTURE FOR SETTLEMENT FOR BROADER GOALS. (THIS IS WHAT PRESIDENT JOHNSON DID AT CHAMIZAL IN THE EL PASO DISTICT IN 1967, A SETTLEMENT WHICH COST US $39 MILLION TO COMPLETE THE CURRENT BOUNDARY SETTLEMENT FOR THE ENTIRE BORDER.)

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IT ALSO MEANS THAT SOMEONE MAY HAVE TO LEAN ON SENATOR TOWER A LITTLE. I WOULD GUESS IT WOULD NOT TAKE MUCH; NO ONE HAS EXPLAINED TO HIM THE POLITICAL GOAL OR THE PRESIDENT’S INTEREST, TO MY KNOWLEDGE.

RECOMMENDATION:

1. THAT THE PRESIDENT CALL SECRETARY ROGERS (OR AUTHORIZE YOU TO CALL ON HIS BEHALF) TO INFORM HIM THAT HE WISHES TO HAVE THE BOUNDARY SETTLEMENT WRAPPED UP IN TIME OF THE PUERTO VALLARTA MEETING, AND THAT HE IS PREPARED TO ACCEPT THE 75/25 POSTITON NOW IN ORDER TO ASSURE AGREEMENT BY AUGUST 20.

2. THAT THE PRESIDENT BE PREPARED TO CALL SENATOR TOWER, IF THAT SEEMS NECESSARY, TO BRING HIM AROUND.
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  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; Eyes Only. A handwritten note initialed by Kissinger reads “I’ll call.” An August 20 memorandum of conversation, details a U.S.-Mexico joint statement on the boundary settlement, which was issued in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, on August 21 after the meeting between Nixon and Díaz Ordaz. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL MEX–US) For the text of their joint statement, see Public Papers: Nixon, 1970, pp. 687–688.
  2. National Security Council staff member Vaky forwarded a status report on negotiations for a settlement to the Ojinaga border dispute. He recommended that the President contact Secretary of State Rogers to assure that the boundary settlement was resolved in time for the Puerto Vallarta meeting, and that Rogers was prepared to accept the 75/25 position.