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The Avena-Wilson Collection, no. 5 - Presidents LBJ and Diaz Ordaz in El Paso (1967)

Richard Avena, Linda Wilson, Rebecca Avena

Silent | 1967

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  •  Mexican President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz (L) and President Lyndon B. Johnson (R) 
  •  The celebratory parade went through both El Paso and Juarez. These scenes are from Juarez. 
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This home movie captures scenes of President Lyndon B. Johnson and Mexican President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz as they arrive from Wasington D.C. in El Paso on October 28, 1967. The two presidents were in El Paso-Ciudad Juárez to visit the Chamizal Monument to formally resolve the Chamizal Dispute and officially transfer sovereign territory to Mexico, as dictated by the Chamizal Treaty signed in 1964. Johnson and Diaz Ordaz began their time in El Paso by visiting the Mexican-American Conference at the Hilton Inn where the Inter-Agency Committee on Mexican-American Affairs was meeting. The two men then participated in a parade from downtown El Paso, over the international Santa Fe Bridge, and into Ciudad Juarez where they held a formal ceremony at the Chamizal Monument. Included are scenes from the welcome in El Paso outside the Hilton’s Skyriders Club, the presidents at the Mexican-American Conference, and the parade in Ciudad Juarez. Also included are images of downtown Juarez and scenes from the Avena family Christmas in 1967.
Thirty-sixth president of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, was born on a hill country farm near Stonewall, Texas on August 27, 1908 to Samuel Ealy Johnson, a former Texas legislator, and Rebekah Baines Johnson.  He attended Southwest Teachers College, now Texas-State University, graduating with a degree in history and social science in 1930. LBJ spent one year as principal and teacher in Cotulla, educating impoverished Hispanic elementary school students. LBJ became the secretary to Texas Congressman Richard M. Kleberg in 1931; the four year position helped him gain influential contacts in Washington. Johnson married Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Taylor on November 17, 1934.
LBJ acted as Director of the National Youth Administration in Texas from 1935 to 1937. Johnson won his first legislative election in 1937 for the Tenth Congressional District, a position he held for eleven years. He was a firm supporter of President Roosevelt’s New Deal and in 1940 acted as Chairman of the Democratic Campaign Committee. In 1948, following his service as a Lieutenant Naval Commander during World War II, LBJ ran as the Democratic nominee for Senate. In a cloud of controversy, he narrowly defeated former Texas Governor Coke Stevens and easily beat his Republican opponent in the general election.  Before winning his second senate term, LBJ was elected Majority Whip in 1951, became the youngest ever Minority Senate Leader in 1953, and was voted Majority Leader in 1954. Johnson unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1960 but was selected to be Vice-President under John F. Kennedy. 
Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as Commander and Chief aboard Air Force One following President Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963 and won reelection in 1964. President Johnson passed landmark legislation with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Debate over military efforts in Vietnam intensified in late 1963 when the President stated that the United States would not withdraw from Southeast Asia. Escalation of the war against North Vietnam brought disapproval from Democrats, claiming the efforts were misguided, and from Republicans who criticized the administration for not executing sufficient military vigor. Antiwar protests, urban riots, and racial tension eroded Johnson’s political base by 1967, which further dissolved following the Tet Offensive in January 1968. On March 31, 1968, President Johnson announced that we would not seek a second Presidential term.
After returning to Texas, Johnson oversaw the construction of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum on the University of Texas campus in Austin. Throughout his political career, LBJ was an influential figure in Texas affairs; his policies brought military bases, crop subsidies, government facilities, and federal jobs to the state. After suffering a massive heart attack, former President Johnson died at his ranch on January 22, 1973. In February of the same year, NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston was renamed the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, in honor of one of the country’s most influential Texans. 

The Chamizal Dispute, a border disagreement over 600 acres of land between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, was a source of tension in U.S. – Mexico relations for over fifty years. 

At the close of the 19th century, the course of the Rio Grande River (or the Río Bravo del Norte) had shifted on many occasions, as a result of flooding and other events. According to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) and the Treaty of 1884, the border between the United States and Mexico was to remain down the middle of the river, regardless of alterations in course, as long as the movements were the result of gradual natural changes. A stretch of 600 acres, known as El Chamizal, was now claimed by both nations; settlers had incorporated the land into El Paso proper, while Mexican citizen Pedro I. García held title. 

In 1910, the International Boundary Commission (later the International Boundary and Water Commission), consisting of delegates from Mexico, the U.S., and Canada, set out to settle the matter. Ultimately the tribunal's 1911 proposal split the territory between the two nations, but the U.S. rejected it on grounds that it did not conform to the terms of the arbitration. 

In the ensuing years, several U.S. presidents sought resolution to the dispute, which remained a contentious issue for both countries. U.S. Senator Tom Connally was known to frequently declare, "Not one inch of Texas for Mexico!" In 1963, President John F. Kennedy elected to settle the matter largely on the terms of the 1911 proposal, which Mexico accepted, and payment and land appropriation began. The American–Mexican Chamizal Convention Act of 1964 legally settled the dispute, and festivities were held on the border with President Lyndon B. Johnson and Mexican President Adolfo López Mateos in attendance. In 1967, after a man-made channel was built to prevent the Rio Grande's course from bringing the border into question again, President Lyndon Baines Johnson and President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz met on the border to officially announce and celebrate the end of the dispute after more than five decades.