484. Briefing Memorandum From Francesco J. Alberti, International Relations Officer, Office of Mexican Affairs, Bureau of Inter-American Affairs, to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Crimmins)1 2

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  • Important Events in Mexican Affairs: During Your Absence

1. Salinity Problem

Mr. Brownell has been meeting each Thursday with his Task Force, which has now been briefed on most aspects of the problem, and which at its latest meetings narrowed possible alternative solutions to those regarded as practical. Still to be heard is a presentation on the legal issues, both international and domestic. They will not meet this week. On October 9–12 they (including Bob Hurwitch) will fly down the Colorado River from Denver, inspect related Arizona region, meet in Palm Springs with Governors of Colorado River Basin States and/or their representatives, and inspect Imperial Irrigation District, which is just north of Mexican Mexicali Valley and has contended with similar irrigation and drainage problems. We are making arrangements for Mr. and Mrs. Brownell, Mr. and Mrs. Sam Eaton, and Commissioner Friedkin to meet with Mexican officials in Mexico City November 20–22, and inspect Mexicali Valley with Mexican Commissioner on November 23.

2. Illegal Immigrants

On September 12 the first meeting of the (Inter-departmental) Special Study Group on Illegal Immigrants From Mexico was held under the chairmanship of Assistant Attorney General Roger C. Cramton. The members of the Study Group then went their separate ways to prepare [Page 2] various study and background papers. ARA/MEX did a memorandum on “Present and future conditions in Mexico which bear upon the immigration question.” We shall be meeting again October 6. Meanwhile, we understand that the analogous Mexican study group is hard at work.

3. Foreign Secretary Angered

Foreign Secretary Rabasa has expressed his great indignation at the US Customs search of his niece. The lady, several months pregnant, and her husband entered the United States at Miami during a two-day “blitz” conducted by US Customs. She was required to disrobe by two female agents and was found to be in fact pregnant. Customs reports that she was travelling on a regular passport and did not identify herself as Rabasa’s niece. Her husband was very upset and Rabasa was furious, charging that the US Government was not living up to the commitments (to ease border crossing) undertaken at the end of “Operation Intercept.” Bob Hurwitch immediately telephoned an apology to Rabasa, and Attorney General Kleindienst and Mr. Meyer both wrote letters of apology to Rabasa.

4. Narcotics Developments

BNDD Director Ingersoll delivered Kleindienst’s letter of understanding on the $1.3 million assistance package to Attorney General Ojeda Paullada during Ingersoll’s September 21 visit to Mexico. We are awaiting Ojeda’s formal reply, but know the language he plans to use and have found it entirely acceptable.

In response to the GOM’s expressed willingness to discuss further customs-to-customs cooperation, US Customs Assistant Commissioner Dickerson plans to visit Mexico October 8 to hold talks with GOM Customs officials.

For other narcotics news, see the Progress Report for September.

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5. Economic Items

On September 13 Assistant Secretary Armstrong and others from State and Labor and Embassy Mexico met with representatives of AFL/CIO on Mexican border industry program. We are to meet with the group again in a week or two, at which time we are to provide the union with data on the Mexican border industry (and also on the alleged promotion program at our Embassy in Haiti).

The United States and Mexico have tentatively set November 29–30 and December 1 as the dates for the annual meeting of the Joint US-Mexican Trade Committee. Agenda items are now being considered.

The GOM is considering a decree to regulate the import of foreign technology. The Embassy believes this would be to the disadvantage of US private investment and could impede technology and transfer needed by Mexico, and our Ambassador has given a memorandum on the subject to Foreign Secretary Rabasa.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL MEX–US. Limited Official Use. In telegram 3731 from USUN, October 6, the Mission reported that Rabasa had criticized the U.S. border check program for unduly humiliating and treating Mexicans like animals and asserted that eliminating demand for narcotics was just as important as eliminating the supply. (Ibid., POL 7 MEX) In telegram 3848 from USUN, October 12, the Mission reported that, in an October 6 meeting with Rabasa, Rogers “expressed apologies for unwarranted customs examination of Fonsec Rabasa’s niece.” (Ibid.)
  2. Alberti updated Crimmins on United States-Mexican relations. Among other issues, he highlighted regular Task Force meetings dealing with the Colorado River salinity issue, the first meeting of an Inter-Departmental Special Study Group on Illegal Immigrants From Mexico, Narcotics Developments, economic and labor issues, and an incident involving body search of Foreign Secretary Rabasa’s niece by U.S. Customs officials.