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Unidos en La Amistad (1969)

International Boundary and Water Commission

Sound | 1969

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  •  President Lyndon B. Johnson and President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz with First Ladies Lady Bird Johnson and Guadalupe Borja Osorno 
  •  LBJ at Amistad Dam construction site 
  •  President Lyndon B. Johnson and President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz speaking at groundbreaking ceremony 
 
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This film documents the construction of the Amistad Dam, focusing on the intergovernmental cooperation between Mexico and the United States. Scenes of the land survey, International Boundary and Water Commission engineers planning the dam, Presidents LBJ and Gustavo Díaz Ordaz announcing the dam ceremoniously, and LBJ visiting the construction site are included, as well as images of the dam under construction and after completion. Throughout the film, the spirit of cooperation and friendship in which Amistad Dam was built is emphasized. Following is extended footage of the dam’s construction.
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.
Amistad Dam is the largest of the storage dams and reservoirs built on the international reach of the Rio Grande River in Southern Val Verde County, Texas and Coahuila, Mexico.  The Amistad Dam was one of the structures 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. Conceived of under the administrations of President Lyndon B. Johnson and President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, construction began in 1964. Construction completed in 1969 and was dedicated by United States President Richard M. Nixon and Mexico President Diaz Ordaz. Hydroelectric plants were added in the 1980s. The dam is 6.1 miles long, stands 254 feet above the riverbed, and consists of a concrete gravity spillway section within the river canyon flanked by earth embankments. The dam has sixteen spillway gates capable of releasing 1,500,000 cubic feet per second. It is an earthfill and concrete structure which functions as flood control and water conservation storage for the benefit of the United States and Mexico.