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Rio Rico, Texas

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Title: Rio Rico, Texas  
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Subject: Historic regions of the United States, Rio Grande border disputes, Territorial evolution of the United States
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Rio Rico, Texas

Rio Rico is a city near the Rio Grande in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas; it and the surrounding land (the Horcon Tract),were part of the US state of Texas (in Hidalgo County) that was ceded by the United States to Mexico in 1977 under the 1970 Boundary Treaty. Along with the 20-acre Beaver Island near Roma, Texas, which was ceded at the same time as Rio Rico, this was one of only six cessions of land by the US to a foreign country after 1959 (five to Mexico and one to Panama), the others being 630 acres of the Chamizal land in 1967, Los Indios Banco (155 acres) in 1968 under the Banco Convention of 1905, an additional 17 bancos (1882 acres) in 1970, 1695 acres ceded for the Presidio-Ojinaga and Hidalgo-Reynosa Flood Control Projects under the 1970 Boundary Treaty, and the Panama Canal Zone in 1999, under treaties signed in 1977. When Mexico received these cessions from the U.S., treaty terms led to cessions totaling 1586 acres by Mexico in return.


In 1906, the Rio Grande Land and Irrigation Company performed an unauthorized diversion of the Rio Grande (Río Bravo del Norte), which moved a 413-acre (165 ha) tract of land, including Rio Rico, south of the river. The company was later fined, but the diversion of the river was allowed to stand if the company placed boundary markers, which it never did.[1]

The land was now physically south of the Rio Grande—the border between Mexico and the U.S. since 1845—and Mexican authorities unknowingly assumed control of the area, which became known as the Horcón Tract.[2] However, since the course change was due to man-made changes and not natural changes, international law dictated that the land remained US territory, a fact that was not in dispute. Something of a resort town grew up there during the 1920s and 1930s, with free-flowing liquor and gambling.[3]

The U.S. eventually ceded the territory to Mexico with the Boundary Treaty of 1970, and it was formally annexed by the state of Tamaulipas. The handover took place in 1977. After one local resident filed a lawsuit to prevent the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service from deporting him, the US courts ruled that all residents born in the city between 1906 and the 1977 handover could retain their US citizenship.[4] The ruling almost emptied the city of residents as they were now able to move to other areas of the United States as full citizens.[5]

See also




  • - Total pages: 226
  • - Total pages: 338

External links

  • Final Handover Documentation
  • State Department Site Explaining 1970 Boundary Treaty
  • U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Rio Rico, Texas

Coordinates: 26°03′22″N 97°53′24″W / 26.05611°N 97.89000°W / 26.05611; -97.89000

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