Bodyguard for El Presidente Echeverría

In 1969, through a seemingly unusual sequence of events, in a jam-packed plaza, in an unruly crowd, at a Mexican presidential campaign event, I came face to face with Luis Echeverría. Concerned for his safety, I was enlisted to extricate the candidate to safety.

  1. American Airlines campus sales representative - Not an typical student job
    1. In my Junior and Senior year at University of Cincinnati
    2. Paid $ 50 per month = approx. $ 300 per month in today’s dollars
    3. What did I do?
      1.  Booked charter flights for students to fly back to NYC for holidays
      2. Worked with the athletic department for flights for the football team
      3. Booked an “Arts” charter to NYC for Broadway & off-Broadway plays
    4. The Student Union was my office
    5. Also recruited (really “tried to recruit” candidates for stewardess) f. I can attest that “you would make a great American Airlines stewardess” is not an effective pickup line! 
    6. An unusual benefit: 2 free 1st class passes annually … anywhere AA flew - my first trip was Christmas 1969 … to San Diego to scuba dive. I had a one day excursion to Tijuana
  2. Tijuana – Not an ordinary American tourist destination
    1. For beaches: Acapulco, Cabo San Lucas, or Puerto Vallarta,
    2. For Aztec or Mayan ruins: Morelos
    3. For natural wonders: Mazatlán
    4. For Spanish colonial history: Mexico City.
    5. For Mexican traditions (of say tequila, mariachi music and charros): Guadalajara
    6. Tijuana:
      1. Tijuana Zebra: donkey painted like a zebra
      2. VW bugs as taxis
      3. The origin of Caesar salad @ Hotel Caesar’s
      4. Slums
      5. Denture clinics (more than 50)
      6. Bullfighting (Bullring by the Sea)
      7. Inspiration for Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass (the Lonely Bull & Tijuana Taxi)
      8. Now also known for the Tijuana crime Cartel
    7. To Tijuana:
      1. Bus from San Diego
      2. Through the San Ysidro border crossing
        1. One of the busiest border crossings in the world
        2. On foot
        3. Over the Tijuana River
      3. And into the sprawling city of more than 1 Million people
  3. Luis Echeverría – Not an uncommon Mexican politician
    1. The 50th President of Mexico
    2. From 1970-1976
    3. B 1922 … still alive / In 1969 he would have been 47 years old
    4. He was campaigning for President:
      1. PRI party - Institutional Revolutionary Party
      2. July 5th 1970
      3. 86% of vote
  4. An unusual, fortuitous meeting
    1. Avenue of Revolution the main tourist route
    2. Running parallel the Avenue of the Constitution
    3. I ate in a genuine Mexican restaurant:
      1. My 2 year of HS Latin and 2 years of HS Spanish had not prepared me well for the immersion into Mexican culture
      2. Not seated at an individual table but with 2 mexicans
      3. Common bowl of salad w flat bread
    4. West of Avenue of the Constitution – the Parque Teniente Guerrero
    5. Parque Teniente Guerrero or Park warrior Lieutenant
      1. Oldest park in Tijauna
      2. Really the heart of the city
    6. Drawn there because a large assembled crowd
      1. Banners & placards
      2. And there Luis Echeverría was publically campaigning for President
    7. I worked a seam and pushed to the center of the activity and
    8. Came shoulder to shoulder with the next President of Mexico – cream colored guayabera – an embroidered linen shirt
    9. If ever been to a US campaign event … completely unlike that - Where the President or candidate is insulated from the public by a security detail
    10. Call it fortuitous, chance or luck, I was just left of center of the focus of activity
    11. The crowd became rambunctious and his security detail became secure and the enlisted me to rush El Presidente to safety
    12. I was joined to a phalanx of men:
      1. A row in front of the candidate
      2. And a row behind (I was in the rear)
      3. Who hurriedly moved him to a secure place

Comment: Outline of my Toastmaster's speech from 2 weeks ago and also tonight

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