File No. 3172/89.

The Acting Secretary of State to the American Ambassador.

No. 479.]

Sir: Referring to your dispatch No. 984, of the 2d instant, I inclose herewith for your information a copy of a letter from the Secretary of the Interior expressing his views on the Mexican Government’s reply of March 31 last to the proposal of this Government that a joint commission of engineers be appointed by the two Governments to examine into the equitable distribution of the waters of the Colorado River.

The Department concurs in the views expressed by the Secretary of the Interior and has designated Mr. Louis C. Hill, supervising engineer, Department of the Interior, as the “Commissioner on the part of the United States to study the questions in connection with the distribution of Colorado River waters.”

You will notify the Mexican Government of Mr. Hill’s designation.

I am [etc.],

Robert Bacon.

The Secretary of the Interior to the Secretary of State.

Sir: Referring to your letters of April 10 (file 3172), April 15 (file 3172/85–86), inclosing copy of letter of February 11, 1908, from Hon. D. E. Thompson to the Mexican minister for foreign affairs, I note the statement with reference to the reply of March 31 from the Mexican department of foreign affairs.

It is there stated that the Republic of Mexico—

can not permit the occupation of national territory unless the Government of the United States confers equal right on the Government of this country for the occupation of American territory.

I can see no objection to this proposition wherever like conditions arise. If the Mexican Government has within its borders a large population of several thousand people whose safety depends upon the building and adequate protection of dikes on the American side of the line, I-should think it would be perfectly proper to grant to the Mexican Government the right to build or inspect such works as will protect the lives and property of its citizens, if the United States is not in a position to do so. Of course, it is evident that there is no such analagous situation which can or will arise. In my opinion, even if we should find such a condition, there can be no reason for refusing a request or reciprocity of this nature.

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With reference to the second point, it is recognized that under the existing contracts the California Development Co. can not transfer its rights to any foreign Government; but there is nothing in the contract to prevent the Mexican Government from waiving this condition or entering into a new contract by which the rights of American citizens may be more adequately protected.

With reference to the third point, the United States has a certain duty in protecting the lives and property of its citizens in Imperial Valley, California, and its request upon the Mexican Government is simply that so far as it lies in the power of that Government every reasonable provision be made to protect the interests of its citizens in the United States where these are inseparably tied up with conditions on the opposite side of the border.

As the Mexican Government will join in sending a commission to study the questions in connection with the distribution of Colorado River waters and will appoint a commissioner, I recommend that, on the part of the United States, Mr. Louis C. Hill, supervising engineer, be designated.

Very respectfully,

James Rudolph Garfield.