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commenced as soon as possible, in order to avoid the danger of inundation in the next flood season.
Your Excellency states that your Government knows from a report of the American Boundary Commissioner that the opinion prevails pretty generally along the border that the damage occasioned by the last flood might have been avoided if the channel had been straightened in accordance with recommendations contained in Minute No. 61 and that the said Commissioner also was of the opinion that the works in question could be undertaken while safeguarding the rights of both countries through the adoption of adequate precaution by the International Boundary Commission.
With regard to the efficacy of the proposed works in order to avoid floods, I must inform Your Excellency, insisting upon what was stated in my note of August 18, last, regarding this same matter, that it is the unanimous opinion, both of the experts who planned the works as well as of those charged with passing judgment on the project: (1) that what will avoid the risk of floods will be the construction of works throughout the whole extension of the El Paso valley and not in one isolated section; (2) that these works, in order that they may have an assured result and not produce, down-stream, greater evils than those it is proposed to avoid, must be started in the lower extremity of the valley and continued up-stream; (3) that their construction at once would only be technically permissible because the changes which the cut-offs at first proposed would produce in the control of the river are of slight importance. Moreover, upon examination of the project presented, it is seen that it is not exclusively the cut-offs which are proposed to avoid floods but the levees (bordos) which it would surely not have been possible to construct in a good condition of stability within the season of torrential rains prevailing between the date of Minute No. 61 and that of the floods. If, moreover, it is borne in mind that the proposed works were calculated to hold a maximum flood discharge of 12,000 cubic feet per second, and that the flood which took place on September 1, last, registered 13,500 cubic feet per second, it will necessarily be deduced that even upon the completion of the works the flood would have taken place on account of their insufficient capacity and that, consequently, the general opinion prevailing on the border, referred to by the American Boundary Commissioner, has no foundation.
With respect to safeguarding the rights of both nations by adequate precaution on the part of the International Boundary Commission, I must inform Your Excellency that it is precisely the proposals regarding sovereignty over the portions of land segregated by the cutoffs and the various bancos formed at the very site of the cut-offs which I have considered to be the precautions or, rather, decisions of
the International Boundary Commission necessary as a prerequisite so that, by orderly procedure, the cut-offs may be authorized. It is solely the desire to avoid the development of new complications in addition to those already existing which has impelled my Government to proceed in the manner in which it has proceeded, it being very far from its purpose to prevent the construction of works which it considers and always has considered of the greatest urgency and utility, especially if the study and its realization is extended so as to secure the defense of the entire El Paso valley and not exclusively of the small part now in question.
In summary, taking into consideration that the repetition of floods will not be imminent until the last third of next year and that less than a year would be employed for completing the proposed works and agreeing upon the previous proposals above referred to, I beg leave once more to insist, in accordance with the contents of my note No. 11089 of August 18, last, that the cases which I have referred to in that note, and in the present note, should be considered and settled by the International Boundary Commission before proceeding to the construction of the proposed cut-offs.
The time employed in this preliminary work would not be lost in the carrying out of the project, since the volume of the last flood demonstrated the insufficient capacity of the proposed works and that, consequently, the project will have to be revised by increasing its capacity. Likewise, there can be studied during this time the complete project of defense works in the entire El Paso valley.
I hope Your Excellency's Government will be pleased to agree to the possibility and justice of meeting the conditions required by my Government within the time now at our disposal. Please accept [etc.]
REMOVAL BY THE UNITED STATES OF ITS COALING STATION IN PICHILINGUE BAY AT THE REQUEST OF THE GOVERNMENT OF MEXICO
The Mexican Ambassador (Téllez) to the Secretary of State
WASHINGTON, October 15, 1924. MR. SECRETARY: Your Excellency knows that since 1861 there has been in Pichilingue Bay, La Paz, Lower California, a coaling station maintained by Your Excellency's Government and where the United States ships coal.
File translation revised.
Your Excellency's Government is aware that the station was not established in accordance with the laws of Mexico then in force, but only by a permit which Your Excellency's Government secured from the Jefe Político of Lower California, which permit that authority had no power to grant under the Constitution of 1857. In 1867, this permit was confirmed, also without any legal authority, by Señor Don Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada, then Minister for Foreign Affairs, but in doing so he remarked that the present situation was permitted only because of the good relations existing between Mexico and the United States.
Subsequently, in May 1900, during the administration of General Porfirio Días, in the same illegal manner, the permit was again extended, but the point was emphasized both in the agreement which was made on the subject and in the note which was sent to Your Excellency's Government that the permit was unilateral, that is, it was entirely an act of good will on the part of Mexico and could, therefore, be revoked at any time. In other words, the United States has only a precarious title to this station, and for that very reason the permit may be revoked at any time. That must be the understanding of Your Excellency's Government.
The present Mexican Constitution, like that of 1857, does not permit establishments of foreign governments such as the coaling station in Pichilingue in the national territory, as these very stations afford occasion for placing in charge persons in the service of the departments of those governments and for permitting foreign war vessels freely to enter and sail out of Mexican waters although they may be those of a friendly nation.
The government of President Obregón, in compliance with its obligations, has deemed the continuance of this situation to be irregular and illegal and has, therefore, instructed me to state, as I now have the honor to do, to Your Excellency's Government that Mexico feels it has no legal or moral power to continue this permission as it has been doing, and it requests Your Excellency's Government to remove within 6 months the coaling station now maintained in Pichilingue.
The Mexican Government trusts that the Government of the United States, and particularly Your Excellency, will appreciate the fact that this decision does not imply any unfriendly sentiment but that it is due solely to the fact that the continued existence of that station is incompatible with the fundamental laws of Mexico and with the honor of the Mexican Government which is under obligation to see that the laws are enforced. It affords me [etc.]
MANUEL C. TÉLLEZ
The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Mexico (Sheffield)
WASHINGTON, December 11, 1924. SIR: I have the honor to enclose a translation of a note dated October 15, 1924, from the Mexican Chargé d'Affaires at this capital,80 concerning the coaling station which is now being maintained by the Navy Department in Pichilingue Bay, La Paz, Lower California, Mexico, and stating that the Mexican authorities feel that they have no legal power to permit the existence of the station at that place, and desire its removal within six months. There is also enclosed a copy of a letter dated November 28, 1924, from the Secretary of the Navy,81 informing me that the fuel depot in question will be permanently closed and relinquished in accordance with the wishes of the Mexican Government.
In this connection, I desire to inform you that prior to 1911 vessels of the Navy were occasionally permitted by the Mexican Government to visit Magdalena Bay for drills, target practice and other purposes, such permission being granted with the understanding that the vessels do not fire in the direction of the coast, land armed forces, or establish camps ashore.” For your further information, I beg to
I refer you to your Embassy's despatch No. 1528, of January 7, 1909, on the subject of Target Practice of the Pacific Fleet.81
No doubt it would be extremely useful to the fleet if similar privileges in those waters might be procured in the future, and you will note that the Secretary of the Navy, in his letter of the 28th ultimo, strongly urges that representations be made to the Mexican Government with that end in view.
Therefore, before revealing to the Mexican Government the decision of the Secretary of the Navy to accede to the request of the Mexican Government in the matter of the desired closing and relinquishment of the coaling station at Pichilingue Bay, it is desired that you discuss this matter with the Mexican authorities, intimating that it is receiving favorable consideration in compliance with expressed wishes and saying, in that connection, having in mind the contents of the letter from the Secretary of the Navy, above referred to, that the latter would deeply appreciate the renewal of the permission heretofore accorded for the fleet to operate from the waters of Magdalena Bay as an anchorage during periods for which diplomatic arrangements will be made beforehand in each case. You should point out that the privileges requested would seem to be in entire accord with customary usages between friendly nations.
The result of your inquiries in this matter will be awaited with interest. I am [etc.]
CHARLES E. HUGHES
The Chargé in Mexico (Schoenfeld) to the Secretary of State
MEXICO, January 26, 1925.
[Received February 4.] Sir: Referring further to the Department's instruction No. 82 of December 11, 1924, in relation to the desire for renewal of the privilege formerly accorded by the Mexican Government to the United States Fleet to operate from the waters of Magdalena Bay during periods for which diplomatic arrangements would be made beforehand in each case, I have the honor now to report the receipt of a memorandum dated January 24, last, from the Mexican Department of Foreign Relations, of which a copy with translation is herewith enclosed. I also enclose herewith a copy of the aide
memoire left by Ambassador Sheffield with the Secretary of Foreign Relations on December 27, last,82 in connection with his oral representations on this subject, as reported in his telegram No. 430 of December 31, 12 noon, 1924.82 I have [etc.]
H. F. ARTHUR SCHOENFELD
[Enclosure Memorandum-Translation 3]
The Mexican Minister for Foreign Affairs (Sáenz) to the American
With reference to the aide-mémoire of December 27, last, it is stated that from 1903 to 1910, in view of the good relations between both countries, Mexico granted to the United States at its request permission for its naval vessels to hold maneuvers and target practice in Magdalena Bay and for its coaling ships to take up their station there. These facts caused the press of Mexico, as well as of the United States and of other countries, to publish news of a supposed cession of that bay by Mexico to the United States. Because of this fact an agreement was reached with the Department of State of the United States, and such news as had given rise to unacceptable comment was corrected. Upon the expiration of the last permission in 1910 Mr. P. C. Knox made the statement to the Ambassador of
82 Not printed. File translation revised.