President Nixon honoured Mexico's President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz at one of the most lavish banquets ever given for a visiting head of state on Thursday night(September 3).
President Nixon honoured Mexico's President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz at one of the most lavish banquets ever given for a visiting head of state on Thursday night(September 3). Among the 600 guests were leading U.S. political figures -- including former President Lyndon Johnson -- as well as top businessmen and Hollywood stars.
President Nixon arranged the evening to repay the hospitality he received from President Diaz Ordaz during a state visit to Mexico two weeks ago, and as a tribute to Mexico's head of state who retires from office at the beginning of December.
Crowds thronging palm-lined streets cheered the two Presidents as they drove together through San Diego -- not far from the Western White House at San Clemente, California.
But later about 300 demonstrators jeered the two leaders as they arrived at a San Diego hotel for the dinner. The demonstrators were protesting against the Vietnam was and against alleged discrimination in the drafting of Mexican-Americans for the U.S. forces -- the problem which sparked off bitter rioting in the Los Angeles area only five days earlier.
Police quickly closed in on the demonstrators. And the hotel was a closely-guarded fortress, with police checking the credentials of all but the most instantly recognisable celebrities.
Former President Lyndon Johnson flew in from Texas to renew his friendship with the Mexican leader, who helped create a new warmth in U.S.-Mexican relations.
The Nixon administration went to great lengths to give the occasion the appearance of a State Dinner in Washington. The elegant nineteenth-century ballroom at the San Diego hotel held five times the number of people that can be accommodated in the White House banquet room -- making this the largest U.S. state dinner or record.
But in the midst of the lavishness of the banquet, President Diaz Ordaz spoke with concern about the poverty of his own country. He added that all nations should aspire to a system that places wealth at the service of all mankind.