The Mexican Ambassador (Castillo Nájera) to the Secretary of State


Mr. Secretary: I referred to my Government the note from Your Excellency dated February 15, 1940, to which I now reply on instructions from the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico.

My Government wishes, first of all, to clarify and define the terms under which it authorized its International Water and Boundary Commissioners to render, together with the Boundary Commissioner of the American Government, a joint report to the two Governments.

The acceptance by the Government of Mexico of the invitation which your Department made through me in its note of December 27, 1939, was subject to the condition that the Government of the United States should, in its turn, accept the Mexican proposals set forth in my note of January 19, 1940. This is quite clearly evident from the terms of my note under reference, in which I advised Your Excellency that my Government had given its International Water and Boundary Commissioners instructions to render a joint report, together with the American Boundary Commissioner, to the two Governments regarding the points on which they should definitively agree and not merely, as your Department seems to have interpreted it, on the partial and concrete case relative to the areas of lands which are at present irrigated and the amount of water used, by each country, [Page 1037] coming from the other, in the lower regions of the Rio Grande and the Colorado River, to the end that the present beneficent uses of the waters of the said rivers might be known and confirmed by agreement between the two Governments.

My Government sincerely regrets that the Government of the United States did not accept the proposals which, in representation thereof, I had the honor to make in my aforementioned note of January 19, since Mexico continues to believe that the said proposals constitute an equitable and just procedure for the complete and final solution of the international water problem between our countries. My Government also regrets the refusal of the Government of the United States because, if the desired satisfactory agreement is not reached, the authorization given its International Boundary and Water Commissioners would be to no further avail.

The situation of Mexico and the United States with respect to the present use of the international waters is very different, since in the former there is really little hydraulic development and the corresponding uses [of the water]78 are but incipient, whereas in the United States, on the other hand, it may be said that they have reached their maximum development and that in order to increase them, at least in certain regions, there would be need of constructions of an international character which would be beneficial not only to the United States but to Mexico likewise.

My Government would be most favorably disposed to study and consider the interest of the Government of the United States respecting special problems, the settlement of which, by their very nature and in their greater part, may be advantageous to this latter country if, with due reciprocity, Your Excellency’s Government should be as favorably disposed toward other aspects suggested by Mexico. In this way it would not only be possible to end the differences which have existed between the two countries for many long years, but, as has been stated, the possibility of increasing the development of some of the American hydraulic systems through the construction of international works would be achieved and the development of the Mexican systems would be assured.

With respect to the investigations being carried out by international offices of the two countries, concerning possible future uses of the waters of the international rivers which, in Your Excellency’s opinion, will not be completed within the near future, my Government, while not failing to recognize their importance, inasmuch as it recommended them, considers that it will not be necessary for these investigations to be completed—it will not even be necessary for them to have been begun—in order to set down in an International Treaty [Page 1038] general rules, independent of those investigations, which should govern the conduct of the two Governments in the distribution of the said international waters.

My Government believes that its proposal relative to the organization of the International Water Commission has likewise been misinterpreted by Your Excellency’s Government, inasmuch as it did not propose that such organization be set up previous to the conclusion of the Treaty, but as a consequence thereof, for it is unquestionable that the latter could not operate properly failing the existence of a body charged with executing it. The International Water Commission which Mexico has proposed, and which would be a result of the Treaty of Distribution which it is desired to conclude, would be executive and not investigatory in character, as was the Commission which functioned from 1927 to 1929, to which Your Excellency refers, and as is the Commission at present existing and on which both Governments have commissioners.

Because of the foregoing, my Government finds it necessary to insist on its proposal contained in my note of January 19, 1940, and to advise Your Excellency’s Government, once more, that it has not the slightest desire to place obstacles in the way of a settlement of a problem which has been the occasion of serious anxieties for it over many years, but, on the contrary, does desire to use all its good will and its devoted cooperation to the end that, in the interest of the people of both countries, this important problem may be settled as soon as possible in a definitive and complete manner in conformity with a joint plan, and not partially settled through consideration given separately and successively to concrete and local cases, a consideration based fundamentally on momentary circumstances.

But if, in spite of my Government’s insistence, its proposal should not be accepted by Your Excellency’s Government, I have instructions to propose to Your Excellency’s Government in that case, as perhaps the simplest and most rapid means of achieving the end which both Governments desire, that authorization be given the present respective Boundary and Water Commissioners who, having studied this problem for many years, have a thorough understanding of it, allowing them to suggest the points which should be contained in the joint report to be rendered the two Governments. If the proposal which the Commissioners present merits the approval of the two Governments, the corresponding instructions will be given for the said Commissioners to proceed immediately to render the Joint Report which will serve as a basis for drafting the International Treaty which, embracing all aspects of the problem, may settle it in the complete fashion desired by Mexico and which my Government is thoroughly convinced is the most advantageous and beneficial for the two countries.

[Page 1039]

The technical ability and the diplomatic skill of engineers Serrano and Lawson, present International Water Commissioners of Mexico and the United States, proof of which they have already given in achieving on a previous occasion an agreement on the bases of a Treaty of such importance as that concerning the rectification of the Rio Grande, in the section between Ciudad Juárez and Cajoncitos, and the confidence shown in them by both Governments, inasmuch as the latter have at the present time placed in their hands the settlement of delicate, complex and difficult questions, make my Government believe that any labors entrusted to them will have most favorable results for both countries.

Please accept [etc.]

F. Castillo Nájera
  1. Brackets appear in the file translation.