The Mexican Ambassador (Téllez) to the Secretary of State


Mr. Secretary: As Your Excellency knows, the Mexican and American members of the International Boundary Commission met at Mexico City, August 21 last, to take up the matter of the rectification of the bed of the Rio Grande in the Juárez Valley, a matter the solution of which is of particular interest to the Government of Your Excellency.

At the said meeting, the United States Commissioner, Engineer L. M. Lawson, asked the Mexican Commissioner, Engineer Gustavo P. Serrano, if the Mexican Government would be disposed to consider the emergency works which it is necessary to make in the Juárez Valley to prevent possible floods in that region. The Mexican Commissioner answered that the Government of Mexico was most willing to discuss the matter, provided that steps were taken immediately to eliminate the bancos pending in the said Juárez Valley. Engineer Serrano once more explained the viewpoint of the Government [Page 477] of Mexico in not making an agreement regarding the rectification of the bed of the Rio Grande until all the cases of bancos upon which the International Boundary Commission had not yet expressed an opinion should be settled, in conformity with the respective treaties. Commissioner Lawson stated that he lacked instructions from his Government to proceed to the elimination of the bancos, in view of which fact he suggested that the meeting be adjourned, to be resumed later, when both Commissioners had had an opportunity to receive instructions from their Governments. The meeting was adjourned as Mr. Lawson suggested.

The Government of Mexico has given all the attention which it merits to the technical problem of freeing both banks of the Rio Grande, in the Juárez Valley, from the damages which may be caused by floods in the river, designating for this purpose Mexican engineers to study the question in cooperation with American engineers, and instructing the Mexican Section of the International Boundary Commission to prepare, with the American Section, the bases of an international convention putting the technical project into practice. But, for reasons based upon the proper respect for existing treaties, the Government of Mexico, as Mr. Serrano explained, holds, as the sole condition, that, before entering upon negotiations with respect to new territorial changes, decision be made, in conformity with the said treaties, concerning pending cases occasioned by natural changes in the course of the Rio Grande.

The attention of the Government of Mexico has been called to the position of Commissioner Lawson, in refusing to proceed with pending banco cases, as is stipulated in the treaties. In this regard, I beg to quote below a paragraph from note No. 1319 which, under date of June 14, 1926,53 was addressed to the Department of Foreign Affairs by the Embassy of the United States in Mexico:

“My government, however, holds itself in readiness to entertain any purports [proposals] which your Excellency’s Government may decide to make looking towards a settlement of the other issues involved. In this connection, I would ask if Your Excellency’s Government would not agree to approve Minute No. 61. If so, my government will instruct its Commission to proceed to dispose of pending banco cases.”54

The Department of Foreign Affairs replied to the foregoing, under date of July 10 of the same year, by note No. 8959,55 in the following terms:

“However, since maps of the presumptive bancos in the Valley of El Paso have been completed and presented to the International [Page 478] Boundary Commission, I take pleasure in stating that my Government is disposed to carry out the recommendations of said Minute No. 61, counting on the promise of Your Excellency’s Government contained in the note under acknowledgement, to discuss the elimination of the bancos mentioned, thus ending the delay which the United States has continued with regard to this matter since 1911.”

My Government, accordingly, agreed to carry out the recommendations contained in Minute No. 61, counting on the promise, clearly expressed in the note from the American Embassy mentioned above, to discuss the elimination of the bancos.

The viewpoint of the Government of Mexico with regard to this matter has been repeatedly explained by the Mexican Commissioner on the International Boundary Commission, and was likewise set forth in note No. 3963 of July 3 last which this Embassy sent to the Department of State in the distinguished charge of Your Excellency.56

Complying with special instructions which I have received from my Government and, in view of the foregoing as well as of the exposition of the matter made in note No. 3963 which I have just referred to, I request Your Excellency to give instructions to the American Commissioner immediately to proceed with the study and settlement of pending banco cases, in conformity with existing treaties and as offered in the above-mentioned note No. 1319 which the Embassy of the United States addressed to the Government of Mexico in June, 1926.

Awaiting Your Excellency’s reply [etc.]

Manuel C. Téllez
  1. File translation revised.
  2. Not printed; but see telegram No. 197, June 12, 1926, 4 p.m., to the Ambassador in Mexico, Foreign Relations, 1926, vol. ii, p. 708.
  3. Above paragraph in English in the original.
  4. Foreign Relations, 1926, vol. ii, p. 709.
  5. Not printed.