Mr. Harold C. Herrick, Jr., of the Office of Mexican Affairs to the Assistant Officer in Charge of Mexican Affairs (Hughes) Temporarily in Mexico City

personal and confidential

Dear Ruth: There have been some recent developments in the case of the Chamizal with which we believe you should be acquainted. I am sorry not to have written before this time, but various things have stacked up in the office.

As you may know, Tom Mann met in El Paso with Vicente Sanchez Gavito, Commissioner Lawson and Commissioner Herrera Jordan on March 23 and 24. I am enclosing a copy of the very informal memorandum1 of the several points upon which they reached tentative agreement. [Page 1479] They also are not too far apart in agreement on a rectified channel for the Rio Grande which would cut to Mexico 805 acres—420 of the Chamizal and 385 of Cordova Island. Mr. Lawson indicates hope that he will be able to reach agreement on a new river line. In general terms we would like to see more land cut to Mexico in and to the east of Cordova, whereas, the Mexicans would, of course, prefer to receive more land in the Chamizal area to the west of Cordova Island.

In the case of the Mexicans, the tentative agreement at El Paso is subject to the approval of at least Tello. Tom and I talked to de la Colina here while Tello was recently in Washington. However, Tello indicated that he did not want to give an answer until he arrived back in Mexico City, which should have been, I understand, last Saturday or Sunday. Presumably we will have some word from him in the near future.2

In our case, if and when we get a green light from Tello, Tom plans to send a memorandum3 to the President outlining the history and present status of the controversy and recommending in substance that the President authorize: (1) the continuation of negotiations along the lines of the El Paso conversations, (2) discussion of the matter with Tom Connally4 and Ken Regan5 to solicit their support, and (3) the formation of a citizen’s committee in El Paso to promote local support in El Paso of the proposed settlement.

You might pass this letter to Paul Culbertson6 and any others that you might wish. We will keep you advised.

With all best wishes.

Sincerely yours,

Harold C. Herrick, Jr.

1. This does not constitute an agreement on the part of either Government.

2. No publicity except by mutual agreement in advance.

3. Will agree later on wording regarding recognition of 1911 Award.

4. The Joint Commission will endeavor to agree upon a line for the relocation of the river northward so as to enclose 805 acres of land (420 acres Chamizal and 385 acres Cordova) between the present and proposed new channels. The proposed new channel will begin at a point on the present channel below the Stanton Street Bridge and end at a point on the present channel east of Cordova Island. The City sanitation disposal plant will be north of the proposed new channel.

[Page 1480]

5. The 805 acres will be reduced by the amount of land, if any, that may be gained by moving the channel north within the existing levees west of the Stanton Street Bridge. It is estimated that perhaps 20 acres may be gained by Mexico in this area.

6. Rectification of the river from Monument No. 1.

7. Mexico will bear cost of delivering clear title to that part of Cordova Island north of proposed new boundary. United States will bear cost of delivering clear title to all territory south of proposed new boundary with the exception of lands within Cordova Island.

8. No agreement on sharing costs of proposed rectification.

  1. Not attached to the source text, but a copy of the referenced memorandum was found in the Department of State files, and it is printed below as an enclosure.
  2. There is no indication in the Department of State files that the Mexican Government responded to this initiative by the United States during the remainder of 1951.
  3. Not printed; it was not sent forward to the President.
  4. Senator Tom Connally (D–Texas) was Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.
  5. Representative Kenneth M. Regan (D–Texas).
  6. Counselor of Embassy, Mexico City.