File No. 711.1215/395.
The Secretary of State to the Mexican Ambassador.
Washington , December 22, 1911.
Sir: Referring to your note of October 3 last, and the Department’s response under date of the 18th of the same month, I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your telegram of the 15th instant, in which you request the good offices of the Department to prevent the United States Deputy Marshal at El Paso, Texas, from “forcibly ejecting various occupants [of the] Chamizal Zone, some of them holding Mexican titles” and your note of December 16th, [Page 962] in which you say that the Mexican Government has been informed “by the Mexican Consul at El Paso, Texas, that the Mexicans have been expelled from the Chamizal Zone by the American authorities” and request the good offices of the Department to the end that the status quo may be respected in the Chamizal Zone.
In reply to your telegram and note, I beg to say that the Department feels assured that in view of the telegraphic reports of Mr. Keblinger, the officer appointed by the Department to pass upon the question of possession on March 15th, 1910, under claim of prima facie Mexican title, copies of which are enclosed for your Excellency’s information, your excellency will recognize that some misapprehension exists on the part of the Mexican Consul at El Paso, as to what has taken place in the Chamizal tract.
As your excellency will observe, no lands within the Chamizal Zone are in question under the present circumstances except certain lands which since 1907 have been in the undisputed possession of the United States Marshal under writs of sequestration issued out of the Federal Courts. It appears from Mr. Keblinger’s telegraphic report that the Marshal had “permitted certain persons to occupy vacant houses on the land in question with understanding that they leave when requested. He so requested some ten days ago and they left land as soon as other houses could be obtained.” None of these persons, however, could fairly be regarded as entitled to protection under the status quo agreement between the United States and Mexico, since, as they were on the land not under claim of prima facie Mexican title but by permission of the United States Marshal in whose possession the land has been since 1907, they were not covered by its provisions.
As to the three defendants in the original suits who gave replevin bonds and the one defendant who was not served, they are entirely undisturbed, as will be observed from Mr. Keblinger’s reports.
As your excellency is aware, the terms of the status quo agreement between the two countries are set forth in this Department’s note of March 22, 1910,1 the Embassy’s note of June 9, 1910,2 and this Department’s response of June 17th, 1910,3 while article VIII4 of the convention of June 24, 1910, providing for the arbitration of the Chamizal Case, extends for two years longer the time during which the two Governments have consented to abide by these terms, although the award which has been rendered is not regarded by this Government as valid and binding.
In its note of March 22nd, 1910, this Department proposed “to appoint an officer who shall be authorized to pass upon the question of the existence of prima facie Mexican title and of the fact of actual possession under such title March 15, 1910, and to report to this Department the cases wherein ejectment should be prevented by virtue of international comity.”5 In your note of June 9, 1910, you accepted the Department’s proposals with respect to the status quo, with the proviso “that the decisions of the commissioner to be designated by the Department of State shall have but a provisional character and shall not impair the rights that the interested parties may have on the land.”[Page 963]
This Department, in its note of June 17, 1910, responded as to this point: “By this the Department understands your excellency to mean that the decision of the Commissioners designated by this Department shall have force and effect only pending the arbitration and shall have no effect whatever as regards the ultimate title to the lands in question after the decision of the international commission.”
Your excellency will observe that in accordance with the arrangement set forth in this exchange of notes the two Governments agree to commit the determination as to the existence of prima facie Mexican title and actual possession thereunder on March 15, 1910, to an officer to be designated for that purpose by the Department of State, whose decisions are to be deemed effective during the life of the status quo agreement (since extended as above noted for two years) although the two Governments were careful to stipulate that these decisions should have only a provisional character and should in no wise prejudice the ultimate rights of parties in interest after the termination of the period fixed as the limit of the status quo agreement.
It is not doubted that your excellency will recognize in the Department’s attitude in this matter its earnest desire scrupulously to comply with the letter and the spirit of the status quo agreement between the two countries and that your excellency, in the light of the facts, and circumstances herein set forth, will agree with the Department in its conclusion that the present action of the United States Marshal at El Paso in no wise violates the status quo agreement.