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Chamizal Conflict

Chamizal Conflict

From 1864 to 1963, the United States and Mexico claimed sovereignty over the El Chamizal tract ("the thicket"), located between El Paso, Texas, and what is now Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. Changes in the course of the Rio Grande caused this land, formerly on the Mexican side of the river, to shift to the U.S. side, thereby altering the international boundary. Both nations claimed the Chamizal. The dispute was submitted to international arbitration in 1911. The United States rejected the arbitral tribunal's award, which divided the area between the claimants.

Settlement of problems between the United States and Mexico was impeded by the continued Chamizal conflict. For instance, the petroleum expropriation controversy of the 1930s could not immediately be resolved because Mexico distrusted the intentions of the United States and refused to submit the matter to arbitration.

In 1963 President John F. Kennedy agreed to settle the dispute on the basis of the 1911 arbitration award. This action eliminated a source of propaganda directed against United States imperialism and allayed Mexican fears about further U.S. expansion into its territory.

See alsoUnited States-Mexico Border .


Sheldon B. Liss, A Century of Disagreement: The Chamizal Conflict, 1864–1964 (1965).

Alan C. Lamborn and Stephen P. Mumme, Statecraft, Domestic Politics, and Foreign Policy Making: The El Chamizal Dispute (1988).

Additional Bibliography

Gómez Robledo, Antonio. México y el arbitraje internacional: El Fondo Piadoso de las Californias, la Isla de la Pasión, el Chamizal. México: Porrúa, 1994.

Utley, Robert Marshall. Changing Course: The International Boundary, United States and Mexico, 1848–1963. Tucson, AZ: Southwest Parks and Monuments Association, 1996.

                                           Sheldon B. Liss

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