Richard Nixon never shrank from voicing his
opinions - however uninformed they might be - on
a wide range of matters. On October 7, 1971, the
President spoke by phone with his Ambassador to
the United Nations, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, on
the ability of Africans to lead nations.
Nixon: I'm not saying that Blacks cannot
govern. I am saying they have a hell of a time.
Nixon: Now that must demonstrate something.
Now, having said that, let's look at Latin America.
Latin America's had 150 years of trying at it and
they don't have much going down there either. Mexico
is a one party government; Colombia, they trade
it off every two years; Venezuela is tiptee-toe,
and the rest are dictatorships except for Allende,
which is a communist dictatorship - elected, but
Now, let me come back to another point. [. . .]
I think you may have heard me tell of my conversation
with [Luis] Muñoz Marín [first governor
of Puerto Rico], who, incidentally was capable of
Nixon: [. . .] In '58, after Lima and Caracas,
I stopped there. And he and I talked all night
and he, drinking his scotch and all, and he really
lived it up
[laughing] And I, trying
to keep up with him - practically dead! But he made
a very interesting point, very late - early in the
early morning hours. He said, look, he says, I shouldn't
say this, he said, "But Mr. Vice-President,
my people have many fine qualities, I mean, they're
they're, they're family people
and you know, philosophy, et cetera."
But he said, "I will have to admit, my people"
- speaking of Latins generally - "have never
been very good at government."
Nixon: Now let's look at that. The Italians
aren't any good at government. The Spanish aren't
any good at government.
Nixon: The French have had a hell of a time,
and they're half Latin. And all of Latin America's
not any good at government. They either go to one
extreme or the other. It's either a family - well,
three extremes: family oligarchy, or a dictatorship
- a dictatorship on the right or one on the left.
Very seldom in the center. Now having said all that,
however, as you compare the Latin dictatorships,
governments, etc. and their forms of government,
they are - they at least do it their way. It is
an orderly way which works relatively
well. They have been able to run the damn place!
[. . .]
Now what I am getting [at] is this: [. . .] Asians
are capable of governing themselves, one
way or another. We and the Caucasians have learned
it after slaughtering each other in religious wars
and other wars for many, many years, including a
couple in the last - this century. The Latins do
it in a miserable way, but they do it. But the Africans
just can't run things. Now that's a very, very fundamental
point in the international scene. See my point?
Whatever Nixon thought of the Mexicans' ability
to run a country, he repeatedly professed to like
them as people. He said as much on May 13, 1971,
when he spoke in the Oval Office to Dr. Merlin K.
DuVal ("Monty"), Assistant Secretary of
DuVal: [. . .] We've become very fond of
Mexico, we go there as often as possible.
Nixon: Do you? [Inaudible] across from the
Tucson area, Mexicali?
DuVal: No, further east, Nogales.
Nixon: Nogales, Nogales, Nogales of course.
DuVal: We're very much at home in Mexico
and we travel back and forth freely and my wife
does very well with Spanish and we have a lot of
friends down as far as . . .
Nixon: Do you have any property? Did you
DuVal: No, but we should.
Nixon: You should. No, really, I think it's
an excellent investment. It's a stable country,
one of the few in Latin America - it has the stability,
and to the extent that they'll let you, you should
really have some property down there. Great people
too, aren't they?
DuVal: Absolutely marvelous.
Nixon: You've got to get to know the Mexicans.
And I - so many people particularly in my state
in California - I mean and they sorta look down
their noses at the Mexicans. Here in the East, as
you know, everybody is obsessed about the Blacks,
and the Mexicans are put upon much worse than the
Blacks from an economic standpoint. They're in a
horrible condition in Los Angeles and other places,
but ah . . . they have such quality. They can't
manage anything very well, but - generally speaking
DuVal: Even if they can't -
Nixon: . . . They can't do anything
very well! [Laughing] But on the other hand, they
work, they're loyal, they have a . . . a warmth,
a warmth that is very real. I mean, most of the
Latins are poets.
DuVal: And they're very warm.
Nixon: Yeah that's right. It's true! It's