The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Mexico (Sheffield)
197. Your despatch 2317, May 28. Letter Mexican Commissioner to American Commissioner, International Boundary Commission, dated March 16,96 states he has been instructed by his Government that Department Communications and Public Works was disposed to commence work on proposed rectification plans “as presented to the Boundary Commission” and that execution these works was delayed only by lack of decisions in pending banco cases.
Minute number 61 of Commission,97 to which Mexican Commissioner apparently refers, appears to relate only to cuts in Rio Grande for about eight miles down the river from Juarez and El Paso and provides that jurisdiction over parcels of land segregated from one side to another “will continue to be the same they had before the segregation, until the Governments of Mexico and the United States resolve otherwise.”
Mexican note forwarded your despatch states instructions to Mexican Commissioner intended to direct him to propose to American Commissioner settlement of banco cases in order to remove “one of the principal obstacles” to river rectification, and states that Mexican Government would look with favor “upon the possibility of taking up as a whole the works of rectification of the channel of the Rio Grande subordinating their execution only to the previous determination of the sovereignty over the lands which will be segregated by the cut-offs on the basis, in general terms, of superficial compensation.”[Page 709]
It thus appears that Mexican Commissioner did not correctly interpret in all respects instructions from his Government.
An agreement between the two Governments for rectifying entire channel of Rio Grande and for determining in advance sovereignty over lands that would be segregated by cut-offs would necessitate much preliminary work and conclusion of treaty, thus delaying project of Commission for averting floods in vicinity of El Paso and Juarez, a matter which it is highly desirable to arrange for at earliest practicable date. However this Government holds itself in readiness to entertain any proposals which the Mexican Government may decide to make looking towards a settlement of the other issues involved.
Bring foregoing considerations urgently to attention Mexican Government and ask if that Government would not agree to approve Minute number 61, stating that, if so, this Government will instruct its Commissioner to proceed to dispose of pending banco cases.