Amistad Dam treaty celebration

Ciudad Acuña Mayor Roberto de los Santos and City of Del Rio Mayor Bruno Lozano bump elbows at the Amistad Dam boundary line, an alternative celebration to the traditional hug that dignitaries from the U.S. and Mexico have exchanged over the years. The alternative celebration was observed due to the COVID-19 pandemic mitigation guidelines.

City officials from Del Rio and Ciudad Acuña came together this Monday to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the treaty that created Amistad Dam, by holding a small but significant ceremony at the Del Rio-Acuña international bridge.

Present at the ceremony, historically held at the boundary line on top of the iconic Amistad Dam, were mayors Roberto de los Santos of Ciudad Acuña and Bruno Lozano of Del Rio, on behalf of the border communities, were joined by customs representatives, city administration officials, Comisión Internacional de Límites y Aguas (International Boundary and Water Commission - Mexican chapter), Laughlin Air Force Base and other public officials.

The mayors met at the international boundary line, where De los Santos and Lozano exchanged words of friendship and good will.

Also in attendance was the Consul of Mexico to the U.S., Paloma Villaseñor, a newly arrived Del Rioan who provided the Mexican flag for the ceremony.

U.S. federal, state and local officials also greeted their Mexican counterparts.

Unlike previous years, on Monday there were no dance crews nor live music performing for the event, due to the large gathering restrictions observed under COVID-19 pandemic guidelines.

The “abrazo” (embrace) ceremony has been an annual feature in Del Rio, with folk dances, marching bands and live music celebrating the treaty that gave way to the construction of dam.

The dam is located on the Rio Grande, 12 miles upstream from Del Rio, and is the second major international storage dam to be constructed jointly by the United States and Mexico, pursuant to the Water Treaty of 1944.

The other international storage dam built prior to Amistad is Falcon Dam, located about 294 miles downstream from the Amistad site, which was completed in 1953.

In addition to its primary function of flood control, water conservation, and power generation, Amistad Dam created recreational opportunities to the surrounding area at Amistad National Recreation Area.

The treaty leading to the construction of Amistad Dam was signed by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Mexican President Adolfo Lopez Mateos in Ciudad Acuña on Oct. 24, 1960.

The signing of the treaty was sealed with a hug which has become known as the “abrazo” ceremony, and practiced by U.S. and Mexican dignitaries during the yearly celebrations.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that the ceremony was held at the Del Rio-Acuña international bridge. The ceremony is traditionally held at the Amistad Dam boundary line. Representatives of the International Boundary and Water Commission Mexican chapter were the only ones in attendance.