History In Ink®  Historical Autographs






Ronald Reagan

José López Portillo


Excellent Hispanic content framed display

featuring a White House luncheon menu signed in person

by President Reagan and Mexican President Portillo

Ronald Wilson Reagan, 1911–2004, 40th President of the United States, and José Guillermo Abel López Portillo y Pacheco, 19202004, 51st President of Mexico, 1976–1982.  Framed display featuring a White House luncheon menu signed Ronald Reagan and Portillo, The White House [Washington, D.C.], June 9, 1981.  Also inscribed and signed by United States Secretary of Commerce Malcolm Baldrige, Jr. (1922–1987), Mac Baldridge, and Mexico Secretary of Commerce Jorge de la Vega Domínguez (1931–), de la Vega D.

This is an outstanding piece relating to American-Mexican diplomacy.  It is a framed display of items once owned by Hector V. Barreto, Sr., president of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.  Barreto, a tireless advocate of closer economic ties between the United States and Mexico, was Reaganʼs guest at a White House luncheon in honor of Portillo following lengthy talks between Reagan and Portillo.  Included in the display are the luncheon menu signed in person by Reagan, Portillo, Baldrige, and de la Vega Dominguez; Barretoʼs luncheon place card; and invitations to the Reagan–Bush 1981 inaugural ceremonies and to the Hispanic Inaugural Reception two days before the inauguration.

Reagan and Portillo met for a series of lengthy meetings June 8–9, 1981, at both the White House and Camp David.  The meetings occurred in the face of strained relations between the United States and Mexico over problems in El Salvador and other Central American countries.  Reagan and Portillo discussed issues of trade, economic development of the less developed nations, and immigration of undocumented migrants into the United States.  Among other things, they agreed to form a Cabinet-level committee, co-chaired by the American and Mexican Secretaries of Commerce, Bald and the U.S. Trade Representative, to deal with bilateral trade questions.  As Portillo departed after lunch, Reagan said that the "talks that weʼve had were frank, they were valuable, and they lead to a closer relationship between our two countries."  U.S. State Department officials told the press that they could not recall an instance in which an American president had devoted such time to a visiting foreign leader.

Portillo, a member of Mexicoʼs Institutional Revolutionary Party, took office during an economic crisis.  He undertook an aggressive economic development program using revenues from the sale of newly discovered oil in the Mexican states of Veracruz and Tabasco.  Despite his discussions with Reagan, Portillo was the last economic nationalist president from his party—later presidents have all favored free trade.

Barreto  (1935–2004) was born in Mexico City but moved to the American Midwest in 1958.  Eventually he founded a chain of Mexican restaurants, an import company, and a construction company.  In 1978 he and others founded the Kansas City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, followed by the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in 1979.  He was an advisor to both Reagan and his successor, President George H. W. Bush.  Among other appointments, he served as president of the National Economic Development Agency.

Reagan has signed the menu in blue ballpoint with a strong 2½" signature.  The signatures of Portillo, Baldrige, and de la Vega Dominguez were likely signed in black felt-tip pen that has faded to brown.  All of the signatures are nicely readable.

The luncheon menu measures approximately 4½" x 7".  Both the menu and Barretoʼs place card are emblazoned with a gold-embossed presidential seal.  We have not examined the various items outside of the frame, but they all appear to be in very fine to extra fine condition.  They have been custom double matted in charcoal gray and framed in a gilt wood frame to an overall size of 22" x 23½".  The framing does not appear to be archival.



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