The Arbitration of 1911
Arbitration: the process by which the parties to a dispute submit their differences to the judgment of an impartial group of people appointed by mutual consent (American Heritage online Dictionary).
In 1848 the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo established the border between the United States and Mexico along the Rio Grande. However, some rivers, especially rivers that meander through the desert, shift overtime. The changing course of the Rio Grande created a nightmare in the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez area. The Chamizal tract was a tract of land owned by Pedro Ignacio Garcia, a Mexican farmer. However, in the mid to late 19th century, with the changing course of the Rio Grande, this tract of land shifted to the U.S. side of the river. Which country owned the Chamizal tract? Government officials and El Paso-Ciudad Juarez locals had been debating this question for decades, and in 1910 an ad hoc arbitration committee was created in order to answer this question once and for all.
The arbitration committee consisted of three officials: a Mexican, an American, and a Canadian. These three commissioners were Fernando Beltran y Puga, Anson Mills, and Eugene Lafleur, respectively. After debating the Chamizal question, a simple democratic vote would prove whether the Chamizal tract belonged to Mexico or the United States. These three officials met in El Paso in 1911.