File No. 3172/11.

The American Ambassador to the Secretary of State.

No. 359.]

Sir: I acknowledge the receipt of the Department’s cablegram of the 11th instant, as follows:

The White House,
Washington, D. C., December 11, 1906.

American Embassy,
Mexico, D. F.

Following telegram received:

Eight hundred feet of the levees built by the California Development Co. in connection with dam with which Colorado River overflow was recently stopped have given away, and the soil on which levees were raised is so porous that it looks as if they will be ultimately [Page 526] destroyed. All of this work is in Mexico, but, as you know, for the benefit or development of Imperial Valley north of International Boundary. Southern Pacific has already advanced about $1,000,000 for this protection, and if Imperial Valley is to be saved it requires immediate stoppage of the crevasse with another dam and construction of some 20 miles of protection levee, involving expenditure of approximately $3,000,000. Matter is urgent and suggest whether our Government can not be induced to take this matter up immediately with Mexican Government for purpose of taking over entire work, which is now beyond capacity of individuals or corporations to handle. If flow continues unchecked it will eventually imperil town of Yuma and the Government dam at Laguna. Reclamation Service fully alive to danger. Wilcott can give you details. Will you not kindly take matter up vigorously along lines indicated.

You will urge upon Mexican Government necessity of immediate and effective action. You are directed to ascertain discreetly, without assuming liability and without committing this Government, whether Mexico is willing to allow the United States to enter upon the Mexican territory covered by concession to La Sociedad de Riegos y Terrenos de la Baja California (Sociedad Anonima). The question of liability may be discussed and considered later.


and confirm my reply as follows:

Mexico, D. F., December 14, 1906.

Referring to your telegram of the 11th instant:

The Mexican President says La Compañía de Riegos y Terrenos de la Baja California has failed to meet its concession requirements and if that company on notice, which he says will be given at once, can not demonstrate its ability to control the Colorado waters, formal declaration of annulment of concession will without delay be served which can become effective in 15 days. He much deplores the situation and is very willing the United States Government should take up the work on Mexican territory, doing, under a permit from the Mexican Government, whatever is necessary to control the Colorado waters. Mexico would enter into a convention with the United States Government permitting waters needed to be taken from the Colorado across Mexican territory into American. The President is very decided in his opinion that no liability attaches to Mexico for any damages that have occurred, or may occur, and feels that Mexico can not stand any part of the expenses for controlling the river, but will do anything the United States Government may desire beyond this. In the event of annulment of concession, and the United States Government does not take up the work of control of the river, it is doubtful as to what action, the Mexican Government would take.

D. E. Thompson.

I spent more than two hours yesterday with President Diaz, talking over the subject matter of the foregoing telegrams. During the last hour of the time Foreign Minister Mariscal and Minister of Fomento Aldasoro were with us. The President, as well as the two ministers, expressed the thought that the company to whom the concession for taking waters from the Colorado River in Mexico was given (La Compañía de Riegos y Terrenos de la Baja California), has acted in bad faith from the beginning, and it developed during the conversation that the Mexican Government is to at once make this company demonstrate its ability to do what it has undertaken to do in Mexico or cancel its concession.

The outcome of the conversation was that President Diaz said the Mexican Government would permit the United States to do anything the American Government might desire in the control of the Colorado waters in Mexico at or near the place of the present disturbance, and that the Mexican Government, should the American Government so desire, will enter into an agreement permitting the waters taken from the Colorado River in Mexico to be conducted through Mexico to the United States for such use as the American Government might desire to make of them; and the Mexican Government will permit any sort of an equipment to be brought into Mexico for the purpose of conducting the work in the event that it should be undertaken.

[Page 527]

I am confident that should a company be organized that would be satisfactory to the American Government for the purpose of taking up the work of the present concessionaires, the Mexican Government could be prevailed upon to grant a new concession similar to the one now existing, or one of almost any other sort that the American Government would like to have.

The President and his two ministers felt that the Mexican Government should in no wise be thought of as being responsible for the existing conditions brought about by La Compañía de Riegos y Terrenos de la Baja California.

I have, etc.,

D. E. Thompson.