Dignitaries from United States of America and Mexico celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Amistad Dam. The ceremony was held on Amistad Dam on Thursday, celebrating the dedication of the dam on Sept. 8, 1969.
Speakers presented remarks about the dam and the relationships established through its creation between both countries.
The speakers were Jose Juan Medina Zapata, City Historian for Cuidad Acuña; Fred Bowers, Carpenter Foreman during the Amistad Dam construction; Chris Ryan, Amistad National Recreation Area Superintendent; Carlos Gustavo Obrador Garrido, Consul of Mexico in Del Rio; Kate Flachsbart, U.S. Consul General in Nuevo Laredo; Roberto de los Santos Vazquez, Mayor of Cuidad Acuña; Bruno “Ralphy” Lozano, City of Del Rio Mayor; Roberto Salmon Castelo, International Boundary and Water Commission Mexican Section commissioner; and Jayne Harkins, U.S. Section commissioner.
Zapata spoke of the history of the dam and said the development brought upon a boost to the economy and a mixture of cultures and traditions present in today’s heritage.
The 1944 Water Treaty between the United States and Mexico authorized construction of international dams and reservoirs on the Rio Grande. Amistad Dam was dedicated on Sept. 8 with the attendance of U.S. President Richard M. Nixon and Mexican President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz.
The dam has multiple purposes consisting of flood control, water storage, hydroelectric power generation, and recreation.
Amistad National Recreation Area Superintendent Chris Ryan said the National Park Service and the International Boundary and Water Commission have a working relationship for 50 years.
“Along with other agencies, we have maintained and protected these important and significant resources,” Ryan said.
Bowers, who worked in the construction site in the early 1960s, and witnessed the project go up from the ground through the efforts of both Mexican and U.S. construction workers, remembered how the first crews of construction workers arrived at the site in 1965.
Bowers was one of the few local men hired to work on the construction of the dam. He said he wishes he had never left Del Rio because he enjoyed his job.
“The friendship and the cooperation between the two countries is the main thing,” Bowers said. Bowers said these factors have strengthened the communities.
Flachsbart said the ceremony was a beautiful tribute to the accomplishment of both countries working together. “It is a pleasure to take part in a celebration that emphasizes not what is different about us, but what we share; not what separates us, but unites us,” Flachsbart said.
According to Flachsbart, the United States and Mexico share more than a border at the Amistad Dam. Both countries share traditions, cultures, objectives and challenges.
“This is how it will always be at the border,” Flachsbart said.
Acuña Mayor Roberto de los Santos Vazquez said both countries came together in brotherly arms 50 years ago and the dam will make people reflect on the humility of both countries establishing better communication.
“To build this Amistad Dam, what a monumental task, the dam was designed as a flood prevention system and river control method,” Del Rio Mayor Bruno Lozano said. According to Lozano, the cities of Del Rio and Acuña were the first beneficiaries of such an act.
The forward thinking vision of a better future was present during the construction of the dam and is still present today, as Lozano and De los Santos Vazquez continue to work together for the betterment of both communities, the Del Rio mayor said.
All speakers thanked the communities’ predecessors for their accomplishments. The ceremony was closed with all people in attendance gathering together as friends and not just two countries divided by a geographical border.