Treaty Series No. 864

Convention Between the United States of America and Mexico for the Rectification of the Rio Grande in the El Paso–Juárez Valley, Signed February 1, 193342

The United States of America and the United Mexican States having taken into consideration the studies and engineering plans carried on by the International Boundary Commission, and specially directed [Page 825] to relieve the towns and agricultural lands located within the El Paso-Juárez Valley from flood dangers, and securing at the same time the stabilization of the international boundary line, which, owing to the present meandering nature of the river it has not been possible to hold within the mean line of its channel; and fully conscious of the great importance involved in this matter, both from a local point of view as well as from a good international understanding, have resolved to undertake, in common agreement and cooperation, the necessary works as provided in Minute 129 (dated July 31, 1930)43 of the International Boundary Commission, approved by the two Governments in the manner provided by treaty; and in order to give legal and final form to the project, have named as their plenipotentiaries:

The President of the United States of America, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Mexico; and

The President of the United Mexican States, Doctor José Manuel Puig Casauranc, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs;

Who, after having communicated their respective full powers and having found them in due and proper form, have agreed on the following articles:


The Government of the United States of America and the Government of the United Mexican States have agreed to carry out the Rio Grande rectification works provided for in Minute 129 of the International Boundary Commission and annexes thereto, approved by both Governments, in that part of the river beginning at the point of intersection of the present river channel with the located line as shown in map, exhibit No. 2 of Minute 129 of said Commission (said intersection being south of Monument 15 of the boundary polygon of Cordoba Island) and ending at Box Canyon.

The terms of this Convention and of Minute 129 shall apply exclusively to river rectification within the limits above set out.

The two Governments shall study such further minutes and regulations as may be submitted by the International Boundary Commission and, finding them acceptable, shall approve same in order to carry out the material execution of the works in accordance with the terms of this Convention. The works shall be begun after this Convention becomes effective.


For the execution of the works there shall be followed the procedure outlined in the technical study of the project. The works shall be begun and shall be carried on primarily from the lower end, but at [Page 826] the same time and for reasons of necessity works may be carried on in the upper sections of the valley.


In consideration of the difference existing in the benefits derived by each of the contracting countries by the rectification works, the proratable cost of the works will be defrayed by both Governments in the proportion of eighty-eight per cent (88%) by the United States of America and of twelve per cent (12%) by the United Mexican States.


The direction and inspection of the works shall be under the International Boundary Commission, each Government employing for the construction of that portion of the work it undertakes, the agency that in accordance with its administrative organization should carry on the work.


The International Boundary Commission shall survey the ground to be used as the right of way to be occupied by the rectified channel, as well as the parts to be cut from both sides of said channel. Within thirty days after a cut has been made, it shall mark the boundaries on the ground, there being a strict superficial compensation in total of the areas taken from each country. Once the corresponding maps have been prepared, the Commission shall eliminate these areas from the provisions of Article II of the Convention of November 12, 1884, in similar manner to that adopted in the Convention of March 20, 1905 for the elimination of bancos.


For the sole purpose of equalizing areas, the axis of the rectified channel shall be the international boundary line. The parcels of land that, as a result of these cuts or of merely taking the new axis of the channel as the boundary line, shall remain on the American side of the axis of the rectified channel shall be the territory and property of the United States of America, and the territory and property of the United Mexican States those on the opposite side, each Government mutually surrendering in favor of the other the acquired rights over such parcels.

In the completed rectified river channel—both in its normal and constructed sections—and in any completed portion thereof, the permanent international boundary shall be the middle of the deepest channel of the river within such rectified river channel.

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Lands within the rectified channel, as well as those which, upon segregation, pass from the territory of one country to that of the other, shall be acquired in full ownership by the Government in whose territory said lands are at the present time; and the lands passing as provided in Article V hereof, from one country to the other, shall pass to each Government respectively in absolute sovereignty and ownership, and without encumbrance of any kind, and without private national titles.


The construction of works shall not confer on the contracting parties any property rights in or any jurisdiction over the territory of the other. The completed work shall constitute part of the territory and shall be the property of the country within which it lies.

Each Government shall respectively secure title, control, and jurisdiction of its half of the flood channel, from the axis of that channel to the outer edge of the acquired right of way on its own side, as this channel is described and mapped in the International Boundary Commission Minute number 129, and the maps, plans, and specifications attached thereto, which Minute, maps, plans, and specifications are attached hereto and made a part of this Convention. Each Government shall permanently retain full title, control, and jurisdiction of that part of the flood channel constructed as described, from the deepest channel of the running water in the rectified channel to the outer edge of such acquired right of way.


Construction shall be suspended upon request of either Government, if it be proved that the works are being constructed outside of the conditions herein stipulated or fixed in the approved plan.


In the event there be presented private or national claims for the construction or maintenance of the rectified channel, or for causes connected with the works of rectification, each Government shall assume and adjust such claims as arise within its own territory.


The International Boundary Commission is charged hereafter with the maintenance and preservation of the rectified channel. To this end the Commission shall submit, for the approval of both Governments, [Page 828] the regulations that should be issued to make effective said maintenance.


Both Governments bind themselves to exempt from import duties all materials, implements, equipment, and supplies intended for the works, and passing from one country to the other.


The present Convention is drawn up both in the English and Spanish languages.


The present Convention shall be ratified by the High Contracting Parties in accordance with their respective laws, and the ratifications shall be exchanged in the City of Washington as soon as possible. This Convention will come into force from the date of the exchange of ratifications.

In witness whereof the Plenipotentiaries mentioned above have signed this Convention and have affixed their respective seals.

Done in duplicate at the City of Mexico this first day of February one thousand nine hundred and thirty-three.

J. Reuben Clark Jr.


[Minute No. 129 of the International Boundary Commission, United States and Mexico, July 31, 1930, and the Joint Report of the Consulting Engineers on Rio Grande Rectification, El Paso–Juárez Valley, July 16, 1930, with Annexes, are printed with this treaty in Treaty Series No. 864 and in 48 Stat. 1621.]

  1. In English and Spanish; Spanish text not printed. Ratification advised by the Senate, April 25 (legislative day of April 17), 1933; ratified by the President, October 20. 1933; ratified by Mexico, October 6, 1933; ratifications exchanged at Washington, November 10, 1933; proclaimed by the President, November 13, 1933.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1930, vol. iii, p. 545.