Convention between the United States and Mexico for the rectification of the Rio Grande in the El Paso–Juarez Valley, signed February 1, 1933, and exchanges of notes39

39. For previous correspondence, see Foreign Relations, 1930, vol. iii, pp. 535 ff.

[The negotiations which resulted in this Convention were primarily based upon recommendations in Minute No. 129 (“Report on Rio Grande Rectification”) adopted on July 31, 1930, by the International Boundary Commission, United States and Mexico.40 Minute No. 129 was adopted without delay by the American and Mexican Governments. On August 21, 1930, the American Ambassador in Mexico was authorized to initiate negotiations for an agreement, in form of a treaty, which would achieve the engineering and construction features of Minute No. 129.41 The American Government also desired to have the agreement include a final settlement of the territorial [Page 824] differences existing between the United States and Mexico in the region covered by the rectification project.

At times there seemed to be a fair chance that a complete adjustment including territorial disputes, could be negotiated either in form of a treaty or of an agreement by the two Boundary Commissioners acting not strictly as such but under special instructions from their respective Governments and endowed with special powers for such signature. Thus, the Commissioners would not be functioning under the provisions of existing treaties but under special powers; the arrangement would be taken out of the category of regular minutes. With regard to the form of agreement, the United States wanted the instrument to be one which would be submitted to the Senate for advice and consent to ratification.

The territorial questions involved (El Chamizal, Córdoba and Horcón tracts, San Elizario “Island”) to which was eventually added the Pious Fund Award possessed certain internal political aspects. The latter affected proposals and counterproposals on which mutual agreement was impossible. Finally, in January 1933, the Mexican Minister for Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Puig Casauranc, and the American Ambassador, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., agreed that the most urgent question, the general project of rectification and flood prevention as provided for in Minute No. 129 of July 31, 1930, should be carried through separately in a Convention. Adjustment of the territorial questions was left until such later time as might prove to be more propitious.

Since no settlement of the territorial issues had been achieved when this volume was ready for publication, it was decided, after consultation between the two Governments, to omit at this time documentation on this phase of the negotiations for the years 1931–1933. This decision is in accordance with that section of Department of State Regulation 045.2 which permits certain omissions of documents from Foreign Relations “to avoid publication of matters which would tend to impede current diplomatic negotiations or other business.”]

  1. Foreign Relations, 1930, vol. iii, p. 545. To this Minute was attached a “Joint Report of Consulting Engineers Rio Grande Rectification—El Paso-Juárez Valley,” which is printed with the Convention between the United States of America and Mexico, for the rectification of the Rio Grande, signed at Mexico City, February 1, 1933, in Department of State Treaty Series No. 864.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1930, vol. iii, pp. 551 ff. The later request of the Mexican Government that it, rather than that of the United States, should initiate negotiations, was acceded to by the American Government. (Ibid., pp. 553 ff.)