"El Chamizal" : a boundary problem between the United States and Mexico



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More than forty years have passed since the boundary problem at "El Chamizal" first came to the attention of the governments of the United States and Mexico. The dispute seems no nearer solution today than when it first came up although numerous efforts have been made to settle it through diplomatic channels or by arbitration. An attempt has been made in the present discussion to present this boundary problem and to analyze the various attempts to reach a solution. This analysis includes factors in the period prior to the submission of the case to the International Boundary Commission in 1911, the case itself, and the situation in the period since the Award was made. Since the cause for the dispute lies in the nature of the land through which the river flows, a description of the topography of the valley is necessary in order to understand the arguments presented by each of the claimants to the disputed tract. A brief history of the organization of the International Boundary Commission is given, as well as the first attempt to settle the dispute and the difficulties resulting from the inability of the two countries to reach a satisfactory settlement. The discussion of the case includes the terms of the Compromis, and the arguments presented before the Commission based on the theories of: erosiion vs. avulsion; the fixed line; and prescription. The analysis of the Award includes the opinions of: the Presiding Commissioner, Mr. Eugene Lafleur; Mr. Anson Mills, representing the United States; and Señor F. Beltrán y Puga, representing Mexico. Finally, an account is given of the attempts since 1911, to make some satisfactory settlement and of the results of the failure to reach a solution; results important and far reaching both in the United States and in Mexico