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Inaugurado por Presa Falcon (1953)

International Boundary and Water Commission

Silent | 1953

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  •  Mexican President Aldolfo Ruiz Cortines 
  •  Ing. Eduardo Chávez 
  •   President Dwight D. Eisenhower 
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This film documents the dedication ceremony of the Falcon Dam on October 19, 1953, attended by Mexican President Adolfo Ruiz Cortines and President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The ceremony took place on both sides of the border the dam creates, in Ciudad Nueva Guerrero, Tamaulipas, Mexico and Starr County, Texas, as well as on the Falcon Dam.
The International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) has its roots in the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Gadsen Treaty of 1853, both of which established (and re-established) the U.S.-Mexico border, and also established commissions to survey and map the new U.S.-Mexico border, designating landmarks to mark the border. As the rivers that created the borders changed their courses naturally, land changed jurisdiction, and the International Boundary Commission (IBC), the IBWC's predecessor, was established in 1889 to apply rules that resulted from the Rio Grande and Colorado Rivers' roles as the boundaries between the two countries. In 1906, the two countries signed their first water distribution treaty, the Convention of March 1, 1906, which designated portions of the rivers to each country. In 1933, the two countries began joint river projects to stabilize the Rio Grande, and in 1944, the countries formed the IBWC to enforce allocations of the river and began work on dams that would be operated and maintained by both countries. The IBWC has been integral in resolving boundary disputes for the two countries over the following decades and in constructing dams and reservoirs that stabilize the boundary rivers, keeping them on course to maintain consistent borders and benefits for the U.S. and Mexico.

Falcon Dam is the lowermost major multipurpose international dam and reservoir on the Rio Grande. Authorized by the Treaty for the Utilization of Waters of the Colorado and Tijuana Rivers and of the Rio Grande, also known as the Water Treaty of 1944, construction of the Falcon Dam spanned from 1950-53. Its dedication was held on October 19, 1953, presided over by President Adolfo Ruiz Cortines of Mexico and President Dwight D. Eisenhower of the United States. The dam’s reservoir, the Falcon International Reservoir, began to fill in 1953 and its hydroelectric power plants began producing electricity in 1954. The Falcon Dam is a 150 foot high and 26, 294 foot long earthen embankment dam made of earth-fill, concrete, and steel. Its function is to control and regulate the flow of international waters, including irrigation, domestic and flood releases, and to provide a means of contributing to the mutual welfare of Mexico and the United States. 

Mr. President, Mr. Commissioner, my Friends:
With the dedication of Falcon Dam, we reach the climax of a memorable day. You have been good enough to visit my country. The new city of Guerrero - a small city now safe from the hitherto untamed waters - has greeted you in the name of the Mexican people.  In their cordial greeting, you have received a testimonial of the admiration which my countrymen feel for the illustrious soldier of World War II, now President of the great and friendly Republic that is our neighbor.
In my turn, I have enjoyed your gracious hospitality on American soil.
The occasion which brings us together is a particularly significant one. The distribution of the waters of the Rio Grande and the Colorado River was subject, during many years, to innumerable contingencies. 
Our Governments, moved by the best will and good faith - two essential elements of true friendship - have been able to agree upon the principles that should govern the fair utilization of these two international streams.
The water treaty of 1944 sealed our understanding. This dam is the tangible result of that friendly spirit, which it is our duty to maintain and make universal.
Thousands of families on these lands, scorched by the droughts of centuries, will see the fruit of their labors multiplied. Electric power will replace muscle power. The life-giving and indispensable waters, now under control, will make the sown fields fertile.
Falcon Dam symbolizes in a most special way, the desire of our two countries to unite their efforts in the spirit of cooperation which their neighborhood makes imperative. To facilitate - and if possible, to accelerate - the forward march of social and economic progress. 
It pleases me to think that this structure represents, above all, a source of human prosperity. We have contributed, on both sides of the river, to the improvement of the life of an entire district, of a vast group of human beings - men, women, and children 0 without distinction of nationality, race, lanuage, or religion. Their happiness is our happiness and our incentive is theirs.
You and I are standing, Mr. President, on the halfway line of the river that divides our two countries. To the south, there has lived for many centuries, a noble and great people: the Mexican people. In the course of their history, they have achieved political independence, put to an end the last imperialistic venture in the Western Hemisphere, and carried out two great movements of political, economic, and social reform.
The Mexicans are a peaceful, friendly, and sincere people, jealous of their autonomy and proud of their historic and democratic traditions. With the gold lust of the colonial era gone forever, they know that their future depends only upon their increased effort, which will be conquered step by step through the unwavering application of an indomitable will.
These are people who - as I have on other occasions and now take pleasure in repeating - have come to occupy a place of honor among the champions of the finest causes, through their rejection of all forms of external hegemony; their unfaltering respect for the rights of all free peoples to adopt the standards best suited to them; their inherent aversion to all injustice; their intense devotion to the cause of peace and, above all, their great love of liberty.
On the other side of the line, to the north, lives another great and noble people: the people of the United States. Endowed with extraordinary qualities, with a rich and vast territory, these people have made the United States of America one of the most important nations of the world in this century. The achievements of their organized work are gigantic.
Their ideals of liberty and democracy, like ours, have reached the highest form of expression. Science and technology have brought about enormous development of their country. After two great world wars, destiny has placed upon them one of the greatest responsibilities that any people can have: that of being one of the pillars of peace.
Notwithstanding the fact that our nations are different in character, customs, and resources, they are good friends because they have learned that the principles of mutual respect and understanding cannot be confined within the boundaries of any nation, but rather possess a universal value, which applies to personal relationships, as well as the relations between states. 
Mexico and the United States are not alone in this friendship. Nineteen other American countries - our sister republics - share it with the same rights. Because they rose to freedom as we did in the most amazing flowering of nations recorded in history. 
Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Hidalgo, Morelos, Juárez, Bolívar, San Martín, Martí, and many other leaders, in each of the countries in this hemisphere, charted the course of independence and freedom of our republics. 
We must cooperate in order that the atmosphere of crisis that prevails in world affairs may not divide the countries of this continent. Loyal to the aims of our heroes and patriots, with the common decision to make our democracies greater by the full exercise of democracy, we hope that we may remain united in our support of the sovereignty of nations and their inviolable right of their peoples to enjoy the effective use of their civil and political liberties. 
The occasion which brings together the Presidents of the United States and Mexico suggests - more clearly than any expression of intentions - that the two nations have become associated in the persons of their Chiefs of State to enhance further a work of cooperation and sincere friendship.
Along with the fundamental concept of mutual assistance among states, all activities of the Government of Mexico in the international field have been inspired by the intention of strengthening the basic principles of international law. Relations between nations, as between men, attain their fullest expression when they are founded upon the free determination to live together in peace on the basis of mutual assistance. International law serves as a decisive instrument of solidarity only when it is based on good faith and on respect for the juridical equality of states.
In accordance with those principles and with the condition and traditions of the Mexican people, we are striving for international understanding. No doubt we differ from other countries with respect to the methods employed to achieve that end, because the world is faced with unknown factors of such magnitude, that no one could truthfully say that he possesses the secret of all the solutions; but because of their democratic convictions our two peoples do know with certainty how not to attain peace.
There can be no real and lasting peace without the recognition of the principle of self determination of peoples, that is to say, without respect of their independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, and for their inalienable right to be ruled by a government and an economic system of their own choice.
Neither will there be lasting peace without a general observance of human, political, economic, social, and cultural rights.
And there can be no tranquility or harmony in the world under the threat of total destruction which the armaments race has brought upon mankind; there must be a climate of security and confidence that will result from a program of disarmament nobly conceived and honorably carried out.
We know only too well the kind of peace our countries long for: a peace based on the rights so well defined by our patriot Benito Juárez in his immortal maxim: "Among individuals, as among nations, respect for the rights of others spells peace."
A generous and understanding spirit is now creating the basis for a new code of international ethics formulated on the principle of equality of treatment among nations and among men.
This new spirit will give to the world a peace based on justice and respect for the dignity of man and of nations toward which we all aspire and which you, Mr. President, described so clearly in your admirable address of April 16, 1953, when you said that "it can be fortified not by weapons of war, but by wheat and by cotton, by milk and by wool, by meat and by timber and by rice."
Mr. President: In the name of the people and Government of Mexico and in my own name, I want to thank you for having suggested that I dedicate the Falcon Dam in your company.
It was a happy idea which I promptly accepted with warmest feeling, because I was sure that it would offer our two peoples the opportunity to prove that in their mutual relations, with friendly talks and beneficial exchanges, they continue to maintain their old resolution - included later in the United Nations Charter - "to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors."
I wish to express my most cordial and sincere wishes for the prosperity and greatness of the United States of America, its Government and its people, and for the health and well-being of its Chief Executive, my illustrious friend, President Eisenhower. 
Remarks given by President Dwight D. Eisenhower at the dedication, October 19, 1953.
To you, President Ruiz Cortines, permit me to address my first thought, as we meet to dedicate this great structure to the use of our two peoples. I prize the opportunity of meeting you personally. Moreover, I should like for you to accept my pledge that, as the political head of the United States of America, I shall ever deem it a privilege--and a useful service to my own country-to work with you cooperatively and in friendship. The citizens of the United States of America here gathered with the citizens of your people, are honored by your presence, as all, throughout our entire country, prize the friendship implicit in this meeting.
And President Ruiz Cortines, and all others present from south of this River, let me say that when I speak of friendship today-friendship between our two countries--I am by no means talking of that pale sentiment by which we often describe a chance meeting with an acquaintance on the street, nor do I mean for it to be used as a mere salute or as used, sometimes, in formal diplomatic language.
I mean, Mr. President, the kind of friendship that seeks--seeks earnestly and persistently to understand the viewpoint of the other, and then labors with sympathy and with all that is in the heart to meet the viewpoint of his friend.
To be here today, at this moment in the history of our two nations, fills me with pride and with hope. Pride is for the past-for this latest achievement of the united labor of our two peoples. Hope is for the future--for the kind of future that two such peoples, in such proven unity, can surely build.
More than a mute monument to the ingenuity of engineers, this Falcon Dam is living testimony to the understanding and the cooperation binding our two peoples. More than any volume of words, the sound of its rushing waters and spinning generators speaks of this understanding. And more meaningful and powerful than all the energy it shall generate is the force for common good which we can found in this cooperation.
This work is one of the most dramatic achievements of the International Boundary and Water Commission which conceived and executed its construction. Founded almost sixty-five years ago, this Commission has repeatedly, throughout its history, resolved such problems as elsewhere in the world have flared into bitterness and into hostility. It has done more. It has provided the means for the peoples of two free, sovereign nations to work constructively for their common welfare. And it has done yet more. It has given the world a lesson in the way neighbor nations can and should live: in peace, in mutual respect, in common prosperity.
Behind the work of this historic commission--beyond even all the efforts of the governments of these two nations--is the spirit of two neighbor peoples. This dam and all works like it can, in the deepest sense, be appraised or understood not simply as the achievements of officials and technicians, nor as the grand purchases bought by appropriations of vast sums of money. Such works as this are created in the hearts of the citizens of two nations, citizens who respect and believe in one another. They are bought with the most precious coin in the world--the goodwill among peoples.
I pay my tribute, then, to the men who really created this work: the citizen of the United States of Mexico, and the citizen of the United States of America.
Each of these men proudly proclaims himself a patriot of his own country.
But, what else is he?
First, he respects all that belongs to his neighbor--his culture, his history, his just possessions, and his honest aspirations. He honors his neighbor's rich heritage as heartfully as he honors his own. He respects the dignity of the other--and expects no less from his neighbor.
He is, in yet deeper ways, a lover of freedom. He is profoundly aware of the ugly menace of totalitarianism, of its gaudy promise and its grim practice. He is particularly alert to that kind of aggressive totalitarianism today propagating the deadliest divisions--class against class, nation against nation, people against people. In his heart and in his mind and in his conscience, this man despises all the qualities and trappings of this totalitarianism: its pretense, its slander, its self-seeking--its contempt of man himself.
And, finally, this man knows his own true source of strength: his own free, creative initiative--all the strength and dignity which are his because God so endowed him. This man--this man on both sides of this border he looks to no government-neither his own nor someone else's--to chart his life. He knows that his own happiness and the healthy progress of his whole nation alike are to be won essentially by his own hands and his own brains.
In all this, the man we salute today is the same--on whichever side of this border he lives. Citizen of Mexico or citizen of the United States, he is also citizen of the free world.
This--this I deeply believe, is the spirit that not only rules our hearts here today but also unites this entire Hemisphere.
Extending southward from this spot is a continent of magnificent resources and infinite promise.
I need not emphasize the weight of the responsibilities that fall upon the United States of America in our dealings with the whole free world. Understandably, I think, these have often in the past conspired to center our attention on points of the globe remote from this continent. These responsibilities persist--indeed, they grow greater and increase. But something else has likewise increased: our awareness of the vital problems and the exciting opportunities here in the lands of all the Americas.
To these lands, our attention is turned in warm friendship and constructive concern for the well-being of all our neighbors. We hope to understand their needs and their problems.
We know of the longings of so many for a life enriched not only by greater material blessings, but also by the educational and cultural opportunities due all free men.
We know the scarcity of capital to provide vital stimulus to industry and agriculture--to all production enterprise.
We know the urgent demand for technical assistance in many areas.
We know the grave issues of international trade that must be resolved to allow productive prosperity for all.
We know these matters to be the common concern of all other nations and peoples--for whatever touches one of us touches all of us.
And above all we know this: the conquest of these problems is within the power of our united energy, skill, and determination.
Now, on this day, and on this border, there meet not only the heads of the governments of neighbor nations and fraternal peoples. Here meet the past and the future: the lesson of one, the promise of the second.
Out of this past--out of its trials, its not infrequent shows of national selfishness, its occasional sharp anxieties and differences--out of all this there has come and prevailed a kind of continental concert of spirit and will and purpose.
Ours is the imperishable spirit of free men, unswayed by the cheap promises of totalitarianism, undismayed by its blustering threats.
Our common purpose is the pursuit of a peace that is productive and lasting.
We seek, indeed, that age whose grandest monuments are not built to honor military or physical accomplishments, but rather those very different monuments: schools to teach our young, hospitals to heal our sick, roads to bear our commerce, power to give warmth and light, religious institutions to rouse the spirit, and the structure of abiding peace in which men may faithfully seek all that is good, all that is noble in life.
We confidently believe that such purposes continue to grow throughout this Hemisphere. Especially most important, we believe that your nation, under your leadership, is growing in that thought and in that purpose.
We humbly believe these purposes to be worthy enough to ask the blessing of the Almighty upon our peoples as we seek, with prayer and patience, their full attainment.
My friends, thank you very much.
International Boundary and Water Commission
Presa Falcon
Falcon Dam
Nueva Guerrero
Nueva Ciudad Guerrero
embankment dam
Rio Grande River
Starr County
international border
Zapata County
Inaugurado por Presa Falcon
Dedication of the Falcon Dam
President of the United States of America
Presidente de los Estados Unidos de America
Presidente de Los Estados Unidos Mexicanos
President of the United States of Mexico
Adolfo Ruiz Cortines
Cortines, Adolfo Ruiz
President Ruiz
Presidente Ruiz
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Eisenhower, Dwight D.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
President Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower
Dwight David Eisenhower
Eisenhower, Dwight David
foreign relations
international relations
armed forces
Treaty for the Utilization of Waters of the Colorado and Tijuana Rivers and of the Rio Grande
Water Treaty of 1944
Monumento a Benito Juárez
Benito Juárez Monument
Benito Juarez Monument
La Academia de la Danza Mexicana
dance academy
folk dance
United States
Estados Unidos
aerial view