Richard Nixon photo

Remarks at a Dinner in Coronado, California Honoring President Diaz Ordaz of Mexico

September 03, 1970

During the course of the introductions tonight, we have already introduced the official family.

I think it would perhaps be appropriate also to introduce the immediate personal family of the President. I think, as you know previously from the head table is the lovely daughter--Mrs. Nasta sits here. His son-in-law, her husband, Mr. Nasta-will he please stand?

And his first-born son is also here with his wife, his namesake, Gustavo Diaz Ordaz, and his wife.

And I think I would be pardoned also for one other introduction. The grandson of a former President and the daughter of a present President, David and Julie Eisenhower.

This is a special night for the United States and a particularly special night for California. All of us who live in this State are proud of our heritage, and particularly proud, as we conclude this bicentennial celebration, of the enormous contribution that has been made to California by Mexican-Americans and those from Mexico.

To represent the State of California and all the 20 million people who live here, now the first State of the Union, it is my honor and privilege to present the Governor of the State, Governor Ronald Reagan.

[Following Governor Reagan's remarks, which are printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 6, p. 1139), the President resumed speaking.]

California is now the most populous State, and therefore, in certainly population terms, as well as in others, we think the first State. The State that has the longest border with Mexico is Texas.

Texans have always had a great tradition of friendship, particularly in recent years, with our friends from Mexico. It seems to me that it is, therefore, not to be something we should not have expected that the President of the United States who was a Texan, during his term of office made a very great contribution to Mexican-American friendship.

He was the host to our honored guest tonight on several occasions. He traveled often to Mexico, and one of the great achievements of his administration is that progress was made, very significant progress, in bringing our two countries, and particularly our two peoples, closer together.

We in California, and all of us in this room tonight, are honored that we have as our guest the former First Lady, Mrs. Johnson, and the former President of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, to speak now on behalf of Texas and all of America.

[Following President Johnson's remarks, which are printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 6, p. 1140), the President resumed speaking.]

In my position with the honor of proposing the toast to the President of Mexico, it occurs to me that I could best speak for all of you in personal terms first, in terms of the relations between our two countries diplomatically and from the standpoint of foreign policy second, and finally in terms of the record, the contribution to his country and to Mexican-American relations of our guest.

As I met those coming through the receiving line tonight, I was enormously impressed with the number of my fellow Californians and fellow Americans who spoke to the President of Mexico in what I thought was very good Spanish, and who spoke with affection of having visited so often his country and of the people that they knew from his country who lived in our country.

I thought of my own background--and it does have somewhat of a Mexican flavor. I was born in a very small town in California. Its name was Yorba Linda. I grew up on a road in California called El Camino Real. I went to school, grammar school and high school, in California, and had scores of friends who were Mexican-Americans, good friends, and who have been friends all of my life.

I like Mexican food. I like Mexican music. I know the enormous contributions that our Mexican-Americans have made to this State, not only in the past in the history but today with their vitality, their strength, their art, their culture, and above all their warmth.

And, fortunately, my wife shared my feelings about Mexico, because 30 years ago when we planned our wedding trip we went to Mexico and we have been back four times since then; each time developing a deeper affection for the country to the south and for its people.

And so, in personal terms, I speak, I am sure, for many in this room who have experiences of visiting Mexico, knowing its people there, or of knowing our friends from the south when they have lived here or have become citizens of our State or of our Nation.

I think of the relations between our two countries in an official capacity, as President Johnson has referred to them. I think of that border so long and yet one which is truly one that is not a barrier between countries, but a bridge of friendship between them over which we can cross at any time.

I think, too, of the fact that during the term of office of the man we honor tonight, a term of office which covered President Johnson's term of office, at least part of it, and also part of mine, we have seen perhaps the greatest progress in the history of our two countries in ironing out whatever differences there were, border disputes or otherwise, between our two countries.

I think of the fact that not only do we have this great long border, a peaceful border, between our two countries, but I think in economic terms of the fact that we are Mexico's best customer in the world, and Mexico is our best customer in all of Latin America.

And then I turn to the man that we honor. I know much about him because I have read of his background, his pronouncements, his speeches. He spent many eloquent years during his service as President.

He said, among other things, I believe in his inaugural address, that the prosperity of one part of his country could not be based on the poverty of another part of his country. That was the ideal that guided him as he led Mexico in an unprecedented period of economic growth, a growth rate of over 7 percent through a period of 6 years--7 percent annually.

And I think, as we think of those words, that the prosperity of one part of a country cannot be based on the poverty of another, it expresses an ideal which all of us feel should apply to every country in the world, within any country the prosperity of one group must not be based on the poverty of another. And among the countries of the world, certainly the international ideal should be that the prosperity of one nation must not be based on the poverty of others.

This is an ideal that will not soon be attained, but it is one to which we are all dedicated. It is one which the President has served for his country. It is one which President Johnson served when he served as President of this Nation and toward which we now are working. A nation in which all people can have the opportunity to move forward together toward those better things in life that we all want, and a world in which all nations and all peoples will have eventually an equal opportunity to move forward.

It is this ideal, an ideal still far away but one which we must constantly work toward, that I think the President of Mexico has perhaps summarized better than any leader in the world today.

And so tonight, as we sit in this historic room, I think of all the things that have happened here. Eighty years ago, for the first time a President of the United States came to California. Benjamin Harrison stood in this spot, the President of the United States, speaking to the people of California. And after him, President McKinley spoke in this room. And then President Taft, after he left the Presidency, and Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935. Four Presidents have spoken in this room.

There have been other great events. The Prince of Wales---on the only previous time that [in this century] a Prince of Wales visited the United States, 50 years ago, was in this room.

So, tonight, we have a very special occasion. We have a former President of the United States, we have a present President of the United States, and we have them here with all of this distinguished company honoring the President of Mexico.

It is an appropriate room, certainly, for such an occasion to occur. And it is so for reasons that I think all of you will agree.

Our two nations should work together because we are geographically so close together with that long border between us. Our two nations should work together because we do have economic self-interests that bring us together.

But that would not explain why President Johnson on seven occasions had meetings with the President of Mexico and why I, on three occasions, already, in less than 2 years, have had meetings with the President of Mexico and where in an unprecedented occasion within 2 weeks after a meeting in Mexico we have a return visit here in California.

I would like to say parenthetically to President Johnson that I hope I will be able to beat his record in terms of meeting with the President of Mexico. And I can only say this on another subject: He needn't be concerned about those seven bad reviews. I wrote a book, too, and he will never equal my record as far as bad reviews are concerned.

But what I leave with this group tonight, as I propose a toast to the President of Mexico, is this thought: It is not because of our geographical proximity, or the enlightened self-interest of interdependent economic partners in this hemisphere, that the President of Mexico and the President of the United States should meet so often in an unprecedented way. It is because truly that we have a special place in our hearts for Mexico. We have a special place in our hearts for this distinguished leader of his country. That is what we are trying to say to the President of Mexico tonight.

We are trying to say to him, apart from geographical and economic considerations, it is because we are proud of our Mexican-American common heritage; we are proud of the fact that we do have these good relations today; and we in our hearts enjoy our opportunities to meet with our friends from Mexico.

This is a special relationship, far more important than all the protocol, the diplomatic niceties, the economic reasons that normally bring heads of state and heads of government together.

So, tonight, not for protocol only, not for geography, not for economic self-interest, but because we in this State and in this Nation feel it in our hearts, I suggest that we rise and raise our glasses to the President of Mexico.

Note: The President proposed the toast at 11 p.m. in the Crown Room of the Hotel del Coronado.

President Diaz Ordaz responded in Spanish. A translation of his remarks follows:

Mr. President, Mrs. Nixon, President Johnson, Mrs. Johnson, Governor Reagan, Mrs. Reagan, ladies and gentlemen:

It is true that I am about to end my period as President and will enjoy the possibility of being an ex-President and leading a private life with an added advantage that you don't have in the United States--it is not a custom for ex-Presidents in Mexico to make speeches, so I won't have to speak in public.

I will take advantage of the good counsel given to me by President Johnson, and within 3 months I will go to my rocking chair and hope that within a couple of years some friend will come to rock it for me.

It seems that it is becoming a custom for the Presidents of the United States to have their honeymoons in Mexico. I hope this is a custom that will continue, and I advise all young men who aspire to high places in politics who are not yet married to plan on having their honeymoons in Mexico. Perhaps this will help them to reach the Presidency of the United States, and it will help us as far as tourism is concerned.

I beg you to excuse me, became I am now going to read a speech that I brought along, and written speeches have the defect not only of being serious but of not being very entertaining. But I can't avoid reading it to because the newspapermen have it already.

I attend this state dinner, which is a gesture of friendship from the President of the States. I accepted this high distinction as a clear expression of affection for Mexico, and that is why I took the liberty of inviting the President of the House of Deputies [Octavio Santies Gomez], the Chief Justice [Alfonso Guzman Neyra], and the President of the Senate [Enrique Olivares Santana], so they would! honor me with their company and together, representing the three powers that form the Mexican Government and as representatives of our people, we may all receive this special distinction bestowed to my countrymen. Thank you.

We come to personally attest our friendship, and we ask you, Mr. President, to convey to the noble people of the United States, a message of solidarity and affection from the people of Mexico.

To those Mexicans who reside in this country and to Americans of Mexican descent, we bring the warmth of the Mexican soul, with our brotherly love.

My special thanks to this magnificent city, which under a splendid sky received us today, festooned with the flags of our two countries, and who opened their hearts to us in our passage through the city, to President Nixon and to myself.

President Nixon has been far too generous. He has not only invited me to this state dinner, but he has set aside protocol, not only at the airport but here, too, and I also thank him for having brought or invited here to this dinner, president and Mrs. Johnson, whom I also personally wish to thank for having come all the way to San Diego to have dinner with me.

Nature made us neighbors across a very long border, but we have not reached the present stage of our relations through a submissive acceptance of the circumstance of having been born and having grown geographically together, but deliberately through firm resolution and many efforts and vicissitudes.

In the past we faced grave difficulties and, occasionally, quite painful differences. The road has not been easy. However, little by little we have learned to respect each other and thus have found the path of understanding.

We know that Mexico and the United States can discuss their problems calmly and openly, to find solutions based on equity and justice; that expressing one's own truth does not offend, but contributes to mutual understanding and the finding of satisfactory answers.

Experience tells us that no matter how complex and intricate a problem may seem, it can always be solved decorously, if the party involved decides in good faith to present its reasons and listen to those of the other.

The fruitful resolutions reached between us a few days ago, when we had the honor of greeting President Nixon and his distinguished wife in my country, resolutions of historical importance that include the settlement of century-old disputes, territorial disputes, were not isolated cases, but part of a long series of common efforts on the road of understanding that was born out of respect and ended in friendship.

In comprehension, in respect, and in friendship, we can work together to reach the goals that our peoples have chosen for themselves and collaborate to the fullest extent possible to build a world of peace and justice.

The world of today is demanding closer relations among nations. Cold protocolary words are certainly not enough. Direct contacts between men are indispensable, especially between those who govern. Mutual knowledge, cultural exchanges, and growing and fair trade are necessary.

We cannot lose a minute. For this reason, making use of this high rostrum, democratically open to all words that bear a sense of truth, of equity, of justice, I speak in the name of my people on matters of common interest, and without speaking in its name, I try to echo the concern of Latin America.

There is true alarm in the countries of the hemisphere because in the United States of America protectionist tendencies seem to be gaining strength. Should they prevail, they will be a tremendous blow to the economy of the rest of the continent.

Disregarding what might be exaggeration or distortion in the news, it seems evident that the sectors which have been traditionally protectionist have been joined by others who were not, and even by labor groups that have been against such measures.

To buy less and at lower prices from Latin America, may perhaps work to improve some aspects of the United States economy; but, one does not need to be an expert on these matters to foresee that the improvement would not only be minor, but temporary, and that protectionism would turn against the United States in a very short time, to aggravate the illness it was trying to cure.

Latin America is a natural market for the United States, in the same manner that the United States is a natural market for Latin America. If you buy less from us and at lower prices, we must necessarily buy less from you. The economic disequilibrium might be redressed momentarily, but after a while it would inevitably become worse. This was the tragic experience of the world 40 years ago.

We speak of our concerns to this country, free and sovereign to make its own decisions; trusting in the reasoned prudence and clear vision of her statesmen, the talent of her economists, the pragmatic spirit of its labor unions and of its businessmen, and the love for justice of its people, and therefore believe it will choose the fairest measures, the wisest and the most convenient for all.

I envisage an equitable trade for Mexico and for Latin America, in which the prices of raw materials and of manufactured and semimanufactured products that we sell keep due proportion with what we pay for the manufactured articles we buy, so they may maintain the stability that will allow reasonable planning of production, and the recuperation of investments.

These and other matters must necessarily worry us, but not drive us to despair. On the contrary, from this preoccupation must stem the vigorous decision to face and solve them.

Until very recently great powers acted as if history were made at their sole will, not taking into consideration that their development was nurtured on the raw materials and the cheap labor of the countries they called backward-developed and undeveloped countries, large and small nations, as if territorial space or economic progress had to do with the dignity of men.

We once said that to guarantee the capacity of self-determination of peoples, notwithstanding the size of their geographic home or economic potential, is a task of transcendental historical importance, of the highest social morality and of the greatest political wisdom, in these times of hope and anxiety that mankind is living in.

You recalled, President Nixon, a former statement of mine in the sense that we did not wish to achieve economic progress in my country at the cost or at the expense of the poverty of other parts of the country. I truly believe in this idea, and within it, I consider that while the disequilibrium is maintained, and as long as all over the world the insolent abundance of a few faces the most painful poverty of many, a stable order cannot even be dreamed of.

Modern massive communication media have brought all nations in the world so close that there is an interrelation of problems and solutions, an indivisible destiny, in such a way that even the most powerful and advanced must depend on others and will not survive without them. "Only in reciprocity is there true pleasure and true profit," said Goethe.

We need economic development carried out in harmony, one that truly raises the living standards of mankind, that puts wealth at the service of man and not man at the service of wealth, so that it may be equitably shared by all, without differences due to place of birth, color of the skin, social position, political or religious beliefs.

Just as we want political democracy, we aspire to economic democracy, by which we understand, to paraphrase the Gettysburg Address, the economy of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Spanish rule, although unintentionally, united Latin America in the most important of all enterprises of that epoch: to reach independence and freedom.

More than 150 years later, our greatest endeavor is to conquer well-being through economic development.

We know that, fundamentally, it is up to each one of our peoples to fulfill the task of improving its living conditions with its intelligence and its strength, but we must all be fraternally united and be ready to lend each other a hand.

Mexico, which through the courageous effort of her children, has reached some improvement, openly recognizes her own responsibility toward those who have been able to advance less. As on other occasions, I underline the word "responsibility" to emphasize that by such term I do not mean charity or help, I mean human solidarity.

In each nation there exists an inner vigorous strength, a great creative vitality which it is necessary to respect and to make use of, as an indispensable factor in the true and feasible understanding among nations. A healthy and free international concert can only grow if nourished by the vital spirit that lives in the intimate and genuine soul of each human community.

Our countries have peculiar characteristics, different needs, and diverse capacity to face them; within this diversity they have reached a common voice that must make itself heard. It will be all the more powerful in direct proportion to the unity they achieve.

If each one has gained and lost so many struggles against adversity, the sum of their experience will be the highest value to their actions.

The great ideals set forth by Bolivar of regional and continental unity are still valid: isolated, Latin American countries are weak; united, they can overcome their ancestral poverty.

It is proper to insist that we are not against anyone, but desire to help ourselves by helping each other; by joining efforts in Latin America to create an economic community, we seek reciprocally equitable dealings with this great country, the United States of America. Our purpose is not to create, in the face of its great agricultural and industrial power, another to dispute against it, but to reach an understanding at the highest levels of respect and dignity.

Mr. President, Mrs. Nixon, ladies and gentlemen, on this gala night, on this solemn hour when we renew our vows of unvarying and mutual respect, of reciprocal esteem and loyal friendship, allow me to evoke with emotion Fray Junipero Serra, the generous man who was a parish priest in the cities of Mexico, Puebla, Oaxaca, Vailadolid, and Guadalajara; he who was an indefatigable traveler overcoming the intense pain of a lacerated foot; he who arrived in these parts to sow missions that were to turn into villages, into towns, into large and splendid dries, to these lands that still zealously maintain the memory of Spain, to these lands where so many hearts vibrate in their love for all that is Mexican, since Mexican is one of the roots from which they stem.

In remembering the good priest, let us dream of an America free from internal and external violence. But let us dream, as Junipero Serra, who while dreaming other skies and new lands, kept on working and never stopped walking. Let us also dream, but without ceasing the daily struggle to reach a stage in which, all over this continent, wealth is no longer divorced from justice, and, dreaming without pause, continue struggling to maintain and improve our democracy while we zealously see that order be a guarantee that all may enjoy freedom, and with our daily conduct we strengthen the principle of respect for the rights of others as the only and lasting basis for peace.

To you, President Nixon and Mrs. Nixon, to you, ladies and gentlemen, I present the excuses on behalf of Mrs. Diaz Ordaz for not having been able to accompany me. In her name, in my own, in the name of the people of Mexico, I ask you to toast to the continued health and well-being of President and Mrs. Nixon.

Richard Nixon, Remarks at a Dinner in Coronado, California Honoring President Diaz Ordaz of Mexico Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under





Simple Search of Our Archives