67. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Emilio Rabasa, Secretary of Foreign Relations, Mexico
  • President Gerald Ford
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

Rabasa: Thank you very, very much for meeting with me. I know you are busy.

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President: Not for our good friends. I am so sorry to hear about the President’s father-in-law.

Rabasa: Under no circumstances will there be a deal. We had a problem over Leonhardt.

President: Any idea who is behind it?

Rabasa: They say it was four toughs of the Left. Our concern is he is an old man.

Last night I saw a tape of your press conference. I was pleased to see how well informed you are. I am not an expert on inflation but your answer on the OAS shows you are very well informed by Secretary Kissinger on foreign relations. Henry has a certain relationship with me. When he wants to know about Latin America he calls me.

President: He tells me that.

Rabasa: Seriously, we speak very frankly and openly. Thanks to Henry the salinity problem was solved. It was a very irritating problem. And I know, thanks to you and Henry, we will solve the migration problem.

President: I thought the old agreement was a good one, but it terminated, what, four years ago?

Rabasa: Ten.

President: Really? We got into a problem with Labor and then the humanitarians said it was bad treatment.

Rabasa: We want a quota so that those who go are treated humanely.

Kissinger: Curtis said if they got that they would cooperate on their part.

Rabasa: Henry didn’t mention it, but the Montoya idea for a joint commission is a good one. If we would sit down and agree on numbers and treatment, we could stick to it.

President: In other words, it would be like the old program.

Rabasa: Yes, although that had bad aspects. But now, there is bad publicity in Mexico. It wouldn’t have to be 2 million.

President: It would be a contract—a certain number for a certain period?

Kissinger: Yes—and not immigration.

President: That is important—that they come in and go back out.

Rabasa: Yes, we have one with Canada.

President: How big is that program?

Rabasa: Only about 5,000. I wouldn’t want to give you a figure now. We should sit down and decide. We would try to keep all others out.

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President: Let’s talk to Meany. If he okays it, we will go to Congress. We need authority. This session is not good.

Rabasa: It helps us to have you have your good relations with the Congress.

President: Henry has mentioned the idea of Echeverria and I getting together in one of the border areas.

Rabasa: Yes, in one of the salinity areas. Henry called Echeverria and he was very pleased. I understand the end of October. May I tell the press you asked Echeverria to meet with you this year, at a time and place to be set? Please don’t meet with any other Latin American leader first.

President: Don’t narrow it down more. The last week in October seems to be great.

Rabasa: Mexicali would be good. On our side of the border in the morning and the other side in the afternoon.

Kissinger: And again the next day.

Rabasa: Echeverria went all over Latin America. There are very many differences in the military regimes—from so-called revolutionary regimes in Peru to the radical Right in Chile.

There is word we don’t want private investment. That is not so. We only don’t want bad investment. Especially we want industry for export. Some companies’ presidents say they are not for export. That is very bad—they are just milking us. In many areas investment is welcome.

President: I used to be on the board of directors of a small company which had a monopoly on woven and printed labels for material. We made an agreement with the company in Payon and later in Mexico. In Mexico, the plant is in a small town. Our people had a warm reception, and we sent the merchants down, and everything was fine.

Rabasa: We have a law, but if they meet the conditions we welcome them.

  1. Summary: Ford and Rabasa discussed immigration issues and the possibility of a visit by the President to Mexico.

    Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, NSC Latin American Affairs Staff Files, General Subject Files, Box 12, President Ford—Memcon—August 29, 1974—Emilio Rabasa, Secretary of Foreign Relations, Mexico. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the Oval Office. In telegram 7343 from Mexico City, August 28, the Embassy reported on the kidnapping of President Echeverría’s father-in-law, José Guadalupe Zuno Hernández, and noted that the incident would “severely test GOM policy . . . of no negotiations, no deals with kidnappers and terrorists.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D740238–0616) In telegram 192503 to Mexico City, September 1, the Department reported on a separate August 29 conversation between Kissinger and Rabasa on the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties, foreign investment in Mexico, and the illegal immigration problem. (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Latin America, 1974–1977, Box 5, Mexico—State Department Telegrams—From Secstate—Exdis)