United States presidential visits to Mexico

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President Roosevelt and President Ávila Camacho meet in 1943 in Monterrey.

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[edit]

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).[1] 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.[2] 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.[3]

Assassination Attempt[edit]

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.[4] The Texas Rangers, 4,000 U.S. and Mexican troops, U.S. Secret Service agents, BOI agents (later FBI) and U.S. marshals were all called in to provide security.[5] 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.[6][7][8] 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.[9] Burnham and Moore captured and disarmed the assassin within only a few feet of Taft and Díaz.[10]

Table of visits[edit]

Table of Trips[11]
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 14-02-2013 VISITA DE EPN A BAHÍA DE BANDERAS.jpg 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 Felipe Calderon H.jpg San Jose del Cabo and Los Cabos Corridor Attended the G-20 summit meeting.
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 Vicente Fox flag.jpg 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 Ernesto Zedillo World Economic Forum (2008).jpg 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
Carlos Salinas.jpg
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.
October 21–24, 1981 José López Portillo
Jose Lopez Portillo.jpg
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
Gustavo Diaz Ordaz Richard Nixon San Diego.jpg
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
Lopez Mateos.jpg
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
Adolfo Ruiz Cortines - 2.png
Nuevo Guerrero Dedicated Falcon Dam.
March 3–6, 1947 Truman, Harry Miguel Alemán Valdés
Miguel Aleman V.gif
Mexico, D.F. State visit.
April 20, 1943 Roosevelt, Franklin Manuel Ávila Camacho
Manuel Avila Camacho.jpg
Monterrey Exchange of visits across the border.
October 16, 1909 Taft, William Howard Porfirio Díaz
Porfirio Diaz civilian.jpg
Ciudad Juárez Exchange of visits across the border.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Harris 2009, p. 1.
  2. ^ Harris 2009, p. 2.
  3. ^ "Handbook of Texas Online, s.v.". Retrieved April 19, 2009. 
  4. ^ Harris 2009, p. 14.
  5. ^ Harris 2009, p. 15.
  6. ^ Hampton 1910
  7. ^ van Wyk 2003, pp. 440–446.
  8. ^ "Mr. Taft's Peril; Reported Plot to Kill Two Presidents". Daily Mail (London). October 16, 1909. ISSN 0307-7578. 
  9. ^ Hammond 1935, pp. 565-66.
  10. ^ Harris 2009, p. 213.
  11. ^ "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.