Back to Index


     James Whelan's memo brought up the serious issue of the integrity of the United States. He mentions the esrly Spanish status of Texas. Jackie White has sent me two fascinating articles, one opening with the question "Who owns South Padre Island?" They concern a modest border inspector who claims to descend from Padre Balli, to whom Spain had given the area, which thus he claims as legally his. He instigated the erection of Padre Balli to boost his as yet unrecognized claim. Spanish propaganda is active in the border area, as we reported in memos on the celebrations marking the founding of Spanish Santa Fe in New Mexico.
     Mr. Whelan's memo implicitly brings up the doctrine of "uti possedetis," by which the ex-Spanish colonies agreed to recognize the boundaries which existed at the time of independence. It says nothing about effective occupation. However, in Hispanic legal tradition there is the doctrine that a revolution creates a new estado de derecho, i.e. legal state. Supreme courts use this as an excuse for inaction following a coup. By it, the Texan revolution would have created a new state of law.
     In many states, Indian groups claim ownership of their old lands, and each year an Indian group symbolically occupies Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay. Many lawsuits are being pursued. In British Columbia the government is making vast territorial concessions. There are presumably similar claims in Texas. In addition, there are the Texan extremists who reject the annexation by the United States. Generally, throughout the country, Washington is despised.
     All this is a cloud no bigger than a man's hand. But such a small cloud led up to the Civil War which Lincoln fought to keep this country "one nation under God." Living in Spain from 1931 to 1936, I saw a similar cloud grow until Franco started a civil war to keep Spain one nation under God. Only one thing is certain. Lawyers will be in clover, i.e. greenbacks.

Ronald Hilton - 02/09/99