Newspaper clipping headlined "Lopez Portillo's petroleum-political pressures on U.S.," June 11, 1979
Newspaper clipping headlined "Lopez Portillo's petroleum-political pressures on U.S.," June 11, 1979.
Clippings (information artifacts)
Petroleum industry and trade
Texas A&M University
Cushing Memorial Library and Archives
"Governor William P. Clements, Jr. Official State Papers, 1st Term, 1979-1983"
PR Press Office | 1st term
Texas State library and archives commission
Clements Texas Papers
28A /The Houston Post/Mon., June 11, 1979 The Americas Lopez Portalo's petroleum-political Petrochemical plant rising in Vera Cruz state By WILLIAM D. BEDELL Of The Post Staff Mexico puts pressure on the United States just by being there. There has always been the threat of foreign-ness, difference. Much of Mexico is much like much of the U.S. But they are still different. El Paso and Juarez, for instance, are in many ways the same city, but they are also a world apart, not just a river apart. This difference can be pleasant But it is also a breeder of nerv- ousness This difference also gives rise to another threat. Mexico is more in tune with the countries, small and large, to the south, and is a constant challenge to U.S. influence over these countries. Mexico's increasing sophistication in- creases the authority, ideological and moral, that it holds over these countries. Mexico holds, too, the old power of the poor against the rich. A truth as old as time is the fear of the rich that the poor will take it away from them. In addition there is the fear of increas- ing numbers. This not only sends more and more Mexicans to the U.S. in search of sustenance. It also arouses in the gringo the suspicion that maybe the Mexicans are tougher, more durable, than he, that maybe they are destined eventually to supplant him. Now comes this new and overpowering influence — petroleum. It adds strength to all the old fears, and adds a new one — that the day will come, not soon, of course, when Mexico will be the "have" and the U.S. will be the "have not." This inner voice that is not so still and not so small has given birth to a broad set of reactions in the U.S. There is the feeling of some here that if the Carter administration would just use the right words, the right approach, the right levers, that the Mexicans would sell us all the oil we want at prices advantageous to us. This ignores the reality that Mexico has a mind of its own, a will of its own, plans of its own, and that Mexico fully understands its position in the world today, a position far different from that of only three or four years ago. One of the strangest reactions was a recent letter in The Post: "Why don't we annex Mexico into the United States, and, if they don't want to, take them by force?" This too ignores actualidad, the situa- tion as it is at this moment. Another gesture with a touch of futili- ty was the recent uproar over Mexico's petroleum potential. The Los Angeles Times gave top Page 1 play to a story casting doubt on Mexi- can figures. The gist was that experts agreed that Mexico didn't have anything near 40 bil- lion barrels of proved reserves, as claim- ed by President Jose Lopez Portillo and Jorge Diaz Serrano, head of Petroleos Mexicanos. Diaz Serrano reaffirmed Mexico's claim to 40 billion barrels of proved re- serves of hydrocarbons (oil and gas lumped together), to 44 billion barrels of probable reserves, and to 200 billion bar- ressures on U.S. rels of potential reserves, and Mexico went blithely ahead into the future. Diaz Serrano and Lopez Portillo know, as do most others interested in oil and gas — and who isn't nowadays? — that Mexico has more of the stuff than it can handle now and that more is being found all the time, so quibbling over figures is like spitting in the ocean. Even as the debate went on, the find- ing of a big new field in Chiapas state Was reported. And Mexico cut down on the relatively small amount of oil it now sells to the U.S. Meanwhile, the U.S., with hundreds of millions of cars and tens of thousands of miles of freeways, thirsted for a volatilP.. flammable hydrocarbon mixture called gasoline. Relations between the U.S. and Mexi- co continue volatile, and potentially flammable. The aim of Mexican President Lopez Portillo is patently to keep the fire burn- ing, but under control, like the tension in a 400-cubic-inch engine running under as moderate load. He is moving in several fields to keep the pressure on the U.S., but not to over- do it. He has indicated that the tone of his meeting earlier this year with President Jimmy Carter of the U.S. was not to his liking. That meeting darkened, and had ugly edges. This was largely due to some things that Lopez Portillo said. But he seems to have felt he was ill-advised in preparations for the meeting and has re- placed Santiago Roel Garcia, the foreign minister. The new head of the foreign of- fice is a career diplomat, Jorge C,astane- da. Lopez Portillo does not want things to get out of hand when he and Carter meet again in September, after what could be a nightmare summer at gasoline pumps across the U.S. But Lopez Portillo wants Mexico to be in a strong position. His political activities, with oil ever in the background, are evidence of this. He has endorsed Fidel Castro 's de- mands for an end to the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. , He has brolien.relations with Nicara- gua and intimated, through his ,riew, for- eign ministec that the U.S. should ftillow "suit.. • ' He has continued Mexico's friendly overtures to Canada. A new, agreement guarantees Canada; 100,000 barrels of oil a day bY 1982. And. the Mexican ambas- sador in Ottawa, Augustin Gomez;. re- . .cently spoke of the hope that Canada will become Mexico's second trading partner, after the U.S. (Canada is now in sixth place among traders with Mexico.) • Lopez Portillo is thus building influ- ence in the hemisphere in ways that he hopes will make Mexico more popular and more powerful, and that will nudge the U.S. into a direction more nearly parallel with that of Mexico. But he is being careful not to nudge too hard, not to cause any misfires. For eventually, in the 80s or 90s, when Mexi- co is ready, it may need the U.S. as a big customer for its oil abundance.