128. Telegram From the Embassy in Mexico to the Department of State1

623. For the Secretary. Subj: Conversation With President Lopez Portillo.

1. I had a cordial visit of an hour with President Lopez Portillo prior to accompanying Mrs. Lopez Portillo to Washington. The President, who was calm and composed, made following points: (A) he was sending his three children to accompany his wife as he sensed that the Carters too were a united family and hence would enjoy receiving a Mexican family visit; (B) he was already thinking of his own visit to Washington looking forward to the opportunity to discuss mutual interests as well as mutual problems with President Carter and his new Cabinet members.2 The matters he envisioned discussing would be similar to those covered when he traveled to Washington as President-elect last September.3 He was particularly concerned over trade imbalance citing the recent U.S. restriction of Mexican imported shoes as an example. Mexico’s financial problems were enormous, but they could be overcome with some leeway on trade matters. He specifically expressed appreciation for the understanding received from Treasury, the Federal Reserve as well as the IMF. Regarding his agreement with the IMF, he said he hoped to live up to it with the proviso that there would be some flexibility and that his point of view be taken into account during the present delicate period.

2. The President showed optimism and confidence regarding Mexico’s internal problems. Despite his fears, shared by many others, for the month of January, we were now half way through it, the country was tranquil, and the wage increases had been limited to nine percent. In his mind, the industrial sector now had a debt to labor as well as to government in view of the fact that increases as high as 20 to 40 percent had been feared.

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3. He suggested that I call on him again on my return from Washington in order that we could begin exchanging views as to the program for his visit as well as for the agenda to be discussed. He particularly was interested in hearing the items which President Carter, for his part, will wish to cover in their conversations.

4. Comment: Our conversation was very relaxed and covered a variety of additional matters of varying importance which will be reported as appropriate. The difference between Echeverria and Lopez Portillo was a night with day. The conversation was low-key and he stressed the need for friendship and understanding with U.S. The President emphasized that he follows rational work program and, unlike Echeverria, has delegated considerable responsibility to his Cabinet members. He expressed the private opinion that Echeverria had so overworked himself and “over-energized” his collaborators that toward the end he was not fully fit to make the most important decisions such as those concerning devaluation.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770017–0819. Confidential; Exdis.
  2. President Lopez Portillo visited the United States from February 13 to February 17. See Documents 130 and 131.
  3. During his September 1976 visit, Lopez Portillo discussed Mexican access to U.S. agricultural markets, abating restrictions on American tourists, and the issue of undocumented immigrants. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–11, Part 1, Documents on Mexico; Central America; and the Caribbean, 1973–1976, Document 104.