United States presidential visits to Mexico
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U.S. presidential visits to Mexico have been done by every president since World War II. President Taft also walked across the border in 1909, which was the first visit for any U.S. president; President Obama's first visit was the 30th for any U.S. president. The country was most visited by presidents George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. Both George W. Bush and Reagan visited Mexico more often than Canada, and both presidents had previously been governors of states with large Mexican-American populations. However, only Presidents Carter and Taft were able to speak in Spanish when talking to the Mexican head of state.
Canadians consider it respectful of the old alliance for the President to make Canada the destination of their first international trip. However, President Bush pointedly made his first international visit to President Fox's ranch, in the so-called cowboy summit.
A total of 10 trips have been to the border cities of Tijuana, Mexicali, Ciudad Juárez, Nogales and nearby Magdalena de Kino, Ciudad Acuña, and Nuevo Guerrero (Falcon Dam State Park). The last visit to a border city was in 1986. Only 6 trips have been to the Federal District (Mexico City).
The Taft-Diaz summit
In 1909, William Howard Taft and Porfirio Díaz planned a summit in El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, an historic first meeting between a U.S. and a Mexican president, the first time an American president would cross the border into Mexico, and only the second international trip by a sitting president (Theodore Roosevelt had traveled to Panama while president). Diaz requested the meeting to show U.S. support for his planned eighth run as president, and Taft agreed to support Diaz in order to protect the several billion dollars of American capital then invested in Mexico. An El Paso historian has added that it was a "veritable pageant of military splendor, social brilliance, courtly formality, official protocol, and patriotic fervor." President Taft arrived in El Paso on the morning of October 16 and, after attending a presidential breakfast at the St. Regis Hotel, was driven to the Chamber of Commerce Building.
President Díaz arrived at 11:00 A.M., and after formal introductions, spent about twenty minutes alone with the American president. Because both presidents were bilingual there was no need for interpreters. No one else attended the meeting. Whether the Chamizal dispute was discussed is not known. Although official reports of the meeting stated that nothing of political or diplomatic significance was discussed, some have suggested that the basis was laid there for the treaty of arbitration that the two nations signed a year later. Díaz then returned to Ciudad Juárez, followed by Taft an hour later, and all preparations were then completed for the meeting of the two presidents at the Mexican customhouse. There, after a brief interview, they stepped outside to the front of the building under a scarlet canopy and posed for a cameraman. The resulting photograph effectively dramatized the contrast between Taft's plain appearance and Díaz's military bearing and chest full of medals. The banquet at the Ciudad Juárez customhouse dwarfed all other events of that historic occasion. The entire building had been transformed into a reproduction of one of the famous salons of Versailles. There were rich red draperies, paintings of George Washington and Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, three traincarloads of flowers brought from Guadalajara, a gold and silver service that had belonged to the Emperor Maximilian and was valued at a million dollars, cut glass from Chapultepec Castle valued at $200,000, and fine linens from the presidential palace. There was soft music, conversation in two languages, and mutual toasts by the two presidents. With the presentation of gold goblets to the presidents as gifts from the city of El Paso, the evening came to an end. Taft returned to El Paso to board a train for San Antonio. At length he let El Pasoans know that construction of the Elephant Butte Dam project would begin in 1910. Nineteen months later Porfirio Díaz was overthrown with the capture of Ciudad Juárez by revolutionary forces.
Both sides agreed that the disputed Chamizal strip connecting El Paso to Ciudad Juárez would be considered neutral territory with no flags present during the summit, but the meeting focused attention on this territory and resulted in assassination threats and other serious security concerns. The Texas Rangers, 4,000 U.S. and Mexican troops, U.S. Secret Service agents, FBI agents and U.S. marshals were all called in to provide security. An additional 250 private security detail led by Frederick Russell Burnham, the celebrated scout, was hired by John Hays Hammond, a close friend of Taft from Yale and a former candidate for U.S. Vice-President in 1908 who, along with his business partner Burnham, held considerable mining interests in Mexico. On October 16, the day of the summit, Burnham and Private C.R. Moore, a Texas Ranger, discovered a man holding a concealed palm pistol standing at the El Paso Chamber of Commerce building along the procession route. Burnham and Moore captured and disarmed the assassin within only a few feet of Taft and Díaz.
Table of Visits
|Dates of Visit||President of USA||President of Mexico||Cities||Reason (Unless noted a meeting with President assumed)|
|February 19, 2014||Obama, Barack||Enrique Peña Nieto||Toluca||Attended annual North American Leaders' Summit with President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.|
|May 2–3, 2013||Mexico, D.F.||Private talks on emphasized trade, cultural and educational exchange, innovation, and research.|
|June 17–19, 2012||Felipe Calderón||San Jose del Cabo and Los Cabos Corridor||Attended 2012 G-20 Los Cabos summit.|
|August 9–10, 2009||Guadalajara||Attended annual North American Leaders' Summit with President Felipe Calderón and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.|
|April 16–17, 2009||Mexico, D.F.||Speech on gun control and drug cartels.|
|March 12–14, 2007||Bush, G.W.||Mérida, Uxmal||Visited Mayan ruins.|
|March 30–31, 2006||Vicente Fox||Cancun, Chichen-Itza||Attended annual North American Leaders' Summit with President Vicente Fox and Canadian Prime Minister Harper.|
|January 12–13, 2004||Monterrey||Attended the Special Summit of the Americas.|
|October 26–27, 2002||Los Cabos||Attended APEC Summit Meeting.|
|March 21–22, 2002||Monterrey||Attended the International Conference on Financing for Development.|
|February 16, 2001||San Cristobal||'Cowboy Summit at ranch|
|February 14–15, 1999||Clinton, Bill||Ernesto Zedillo||Mérida||State visit.|
|May 5–7, 1997||Mexico, D.F., Tlaxcala||State Visit.|
|November 26–27, 1990||Bush, G.H.W.||Carlos Salinas de Gortari
||Monterrey, Agualeguas||State Visit, Agualeguas is birthplace of Salinas|
|February 13, 1988||Reagan, Ronald||Miguel de la Madrid||Mazatlán||Signed textile agreement.|
|January 3, 1986||Mexicali||Informal meeting.|
|August 14, 1983||La Paz (Baja California)||Informal meeting.|
|October 8, 1982||Portillo,(lame duck)||Tijuana||Met with President-elect de la Madrid.|
|Oct 21–24, 1981||José López Portillo
||Cancín||Attended Summit Meeting on International Cooperation and Development. Met with the Heads of State and Government of Algeria, Bangladesh, Canada, China, France, Guyana, India, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, Venezuela, and Yugoslavia.|
|January 5, 1981||Ciudad Juárez||[Visit made as President-elect.]|
|February 14–16, 1979||Carter, Jimmy||Mexico, D.F.||State visit. Addressed the Mexican Congress.|
|October 21, 1974||Ford, Gerald||Luis Echeverría||Nogales, Magdalena de Kino||Laid a wreath at the tomb of Padre Eusebio Kino.|
|August 20–21, 1970||Nixon, Richard||Gustavo Díaz Ordaz
||Puerto Vallarta||Official visit.|
|September 8, 1969||Ciudad Acuña||Dedicated Aimistad Dam.|
|October 28, 1967||Johnson, Lyndon||Ciudad Juárez||Attended transfer of El Chamizal from the US. to Mexico.|
|December 3, 1966||Ciudad Acuña||Inspected construction of Arnistad Dam.|
|April 14-15, 1966||Mexico, D.F.||Informal visit.|
|June 29-July 1, 1962||Kennedy, John F.||Adolfo López Mateos
||Mexico, D.F.||State visit.|
|October 24, 1960||Eisenhower, Dwight||Ciudad Acuña||Informal visit.|
|February 19–20, 1959||Acapulco||Informal meeting.|
|October 19, 1953||Adolfo Ruiz Cortines
||Nuevo Guerrero||Dedicated Falcon Dam.|
|March 3–6, 1947||Truman, Harry||Miguel Alemán Valdés
||Mexico, D.F.||State visit.|
|April 20, 1943||Roosevelt, Franklin||Manuel Ávila Camacho
||Monterrey||Exchange of visits across the border.|
|October 16, 1909||Taft, William Howard||Porfirio Díaz
||Ciudad Juárez||Exchange of visits across the border.|
- International travel by the United States president
- United States presidential visits to Sub-Saharan Africa
- United States presidential visits to Canada
- United States presidential visits to United Kingdom
- Harris 2009, p. 1.
- Harris 2009, p. 2.
- "Handbook of Texas Online, s.v.". Retrieved April 19, 2009.
- Harris 2009, p. 14.
- Harris 2009, p. 15.
- Hampton 1910
- van Wyk 2003, pp. 440–446.
- "Mr. Taft's Peril; Reported Plot to Kill Two Presidents". Daily Mail (London). October 16, 1909. ISSN 0307-7578.
- Hammond 1935, pp. 565-66.
- Harris 2009, p. 213.
- "State Department Web Site: Historian's List".
- Hammond, John Hays (1935). The Autobiography of John Hays Hammond. New York: Farrar & Rinehart. ISBN 978-0-405-05913-1.
- Hampton, Benjamin B (April 1, 1910). "The Vast Riches of Alaska". Hampton's Magazine 24 (1).
- Harris, Charles H. III; Sadler, Louis R. (2009). The Secret War in El Paso: Mexican Revolutionary Intrigue, 1906-1920. Albuquerque, New Mexico: University of New Mexico Press. ISBN 978-0-8263-4652-0.
- van Wyk, Peter (2003). Burnham: King of Scouts. Victoria, B.C., Canada: Trafford Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4120-0901-0.