71. Telegram 9030 From the Embassy in Mexico to the Department of State1

9030. Subject: Charter of Economic Rights and Duties: Exchange Between Presidents Ford and Echeverria—Discrepancies. Ref: A. State 233034, B. Mexico 9013, C. Telecon Jova/Bowdler 10/23 Nodis.

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1. Even prior to receiving State 233034, I was concerned at highly optimistic attitude adopted by Mexican press and GOM officials regarding U.S. position on Charter of Economic Rights and Duties. (Since then I note from State 233034 that New York Times has also interpreted results as a “significant change” on the part of the United States.) We brought this apparent discrepancy to the attention of the Department in Mexico 9013.

2. I have just spoken at length with Rabasa and received a very emotional response to my explanation of our position as set forth in paragraphs 1 and 4 of ref. A and my affirmation that we would feel constrained to vote against not only objectionable paragraphs but against the charter as a whole. I pointed out to Rabasa that my notes of the pertinent part of the conversation between the Presidents showed that President Ford said that while we have no complaints against Mexico’s record on compensation following expropriation, we are on the other hand concerned that other countries may nationalize without just compensation. The President then said (almost verbatim): “We cannot endorse a major international charter which can then be used totally against us.” Rabasa said that subsequent to the above conversation and in the bus and the helicopter enroute to Tubac, he had a private conversation with Secretary Kissinger in which he expressed alarm over our determination to vote against the charter as a whole regardless of the fact that we are prepared to accept practically everything except Article 2. This position had been made clear to him previously by Ambassador Scali in New York and by me in the conversation with (and in memorandums I had left with) Assistant Secretary Gallastegui and also Minister of Interior Moya Palencia.

3. Rabasa said he emphasized to the Secretary that such a global vote against the charter would be unwise politically for the United States as it would seem to place us against even the motherhood provisions of the charter which we are prepared to accept and had accepted previously in other international documents and would make us appear now as even favoring “intervention” rather than being against it. Moreover, such a vote would be “devastating” to U.S.-Mexican relations as it would appear that the meeting between the Presidents had in fact produced nothing favorable to Mexico. Rabasa claims with considerable emotion that the Secretary appeared to accept his thesis that the U.S. might vote paragraph-by-paragraph on the charter, voting against those paragraphs on which it concluded it must, but that it would not vote against the charter as a whole. He said the U.S. might even, in addition to voting against paragraph 2 or others which offended us, give an “explanation or statement” re-emphasizing its points of view, in its favorable vote on the charter as a whole. In the meantime, Rabasa said he told the Secretary the Mexican delegation in New York would re[Page 242]ceive instructions to continue cooperating and collaboration with the U.S. in order to attempt to bring about a version of Article 2 which might be more acceptable to the United States. Rabasa said that subsequent to his private conversation with the Secretary on the bus and the helicopter, he took it for granted that the Secretary had had an opportunity to speak privately to President Ford and thus the President’s responding remarks at the public press conference seemed to confirm his impression that there had indeed been some change in the U.S. position. He quoted from President Ford’s remarks: “You, of course, are the author and promoter of some very far-reaching action in the United Nations which we believe, as a Charter for Economic Development throughout the world has very great merit and very great support, and I compliment you for it. And I can assure you that I and Secretary Kissinger will work with you and others in your government in trying to find the key and the answer to the economic development of all parts of our great globe.”

4. Rabasa said this was interpreted by President Echeverria as well as himself as a forthcoming U.S. position on our part and not merely a repetition of the stance that we have taken during previous weeks, i.e., that while we favor the spirit of the charter as a whole, our opposition to Article 2 is so strong that we might vote against the charter. (Incidentally, Echeverria on arriving from the north last night told the press representatives who had met him at the airport that he had defended his point of view and that President Ford, varying the position of the American Government, had decided to support this said charter, understanding that it established a level of international cooperation which would assist in the fight against inflation. In the judgment of President Echeverria, the approval of the charter by the United States would help gain the support of other industrialized countries.)

5. Rabasa said that both he and President Echeverria were acting in good faith in giving public acknowledgment to what they considered to be the United States’s more forthcoming position. A move away from this on our part now would have, he repeated, a “devastating” effect on Mexico as it would seem that not only had the meeting of Presidents accomplished nothing favorable for Mexico but it would place Rabasa and even the President of Mexico in an exceedingly awkward position.

6. He concluded by urging that both sides do their best in improving the language of Article 2 and other sticky points in New York, but that regardless of the final outcome on Article 2, that we not undermine our own position before the underdeveloped world, and particularly in Mexico by voting against the charter as a whole. When I again reminded him of President Ford’s strong statement in the private meeting, he retorted that those private statements were made prior to [Page 243] his own talk with Secretary Kissinger and prior to President Ford’s own forthcoming public remarks at the press conference.

7. We concluded the conversation, which by then had become repetitious as well as emotional, by my assuring him that I would communicate at once with Washington regarding this awkward situation which seems to have developed. I urged him to be as vigorous with the Third World as they had been with us in New York negotiations.

  1. Summary: Jova reported on Rabasa’s dismay upon learning that the United States would feel constrained to vote against the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States as it was then drafted, despite what the Mexican Foreign Secretary had perceived as a statement of support for the initiative by President Ford during a press conference after his October 21 meetings with Echeverría.

    Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Latin America, 1974–1977, Box 5, Mexico—State Department Telegrams—To SecState—Nodis. Confidential; Immediate; Nodis. In telegram 233034 to Mexico City, October 23, the Department stated that Mexican press reports of a change in the U.S. position on the Charter were wrong and that “USG policy remains that of supporting in principle a Charter, provided that its provisions strike a proper balance between the interests of developing and developed countries, and opposing a Charter that does not.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D740307–0289) Telegram 9013 from Mexico City, October 23, is ibid., D740301–0779. The New York Times reports mentioned in the telegram were not further identified. In telegram 9100 from Mexico City, October 25, the Embassy reported on a meeting in which Rabasa had reviewed the Charter “in a mood of grave seriousness combined with emotion (soda water, bicarbonate and even an angry tear),” urging that the United States not oppose the proposal. (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Latin America, 1974–1977, Box 5, Mexico—State Department Telegrams—To SecState—Nodis)