It's a small, small world! Just last week I received an e-mail directing me to an article presented by the British Broadcasting Company. The Rio Grande Valley and the story of Rio Rico made the news all the way across the world. At first, I just could not believe it.
The article was all about Rio Rico, a Valley town that was once in the United States but is now in Mexico. How would you like to go to sleep one night living in the United States and wake up to find that you are now in Mexico? Well, that is exactly what happened to the citizens of Rio Rico for you see it is said that the winding and curving Rio Grande River cut a new and straighter channel leaving Rio Rico in Mexico.
This occurred back in July 2006 and all these years when guiding I have used this as an example of how strong the force of water can be. That episode was easy for me to accept for in Mexico, the Rio Grande is named the Rio Bravo del Norte or the Brave River of the North. And certainly, water can be a powerful force destroying bridges, sweeping cars off of highways that are flooding, and carrying entire houses away in their swirling currents.
Did my eyes ever fly open. Have I been presenting the wrong story all these years that I have been guiding? The story related by British Broadcasting was not at all like what I had been told. My information was obtained from a diligent historian here in the Rio Grande Valley who related to me the river had cut a new channel. British Broadcasting reported that a channel had actually been cut by an irrigation company to shorten and straighten the course of the river.
How could that possibly be when a treaty between the United States and Mexico states that the division between the US and Mexico along the Texas border will be the center of the Rio Grande River. Could it really be that the channel had been deliberately cut immediately leaving those who were one day US citizens living in Mexico.
Not long after I came to the Rio Grande Valley, I read about a lawyer from our area who filed suit to restore US citizenship to those citizens who had overnight lost their own heritage. The British Broadcasting article gives credit to a lawyer from Arizona in the legal fight to restore US citizenship to these unlucky people. Maybe he needed the help of a lawyer closer to the scene.
What is the truth? What really happened?
Edition No. 3 of a magazine called Border Crossing has within its pages an article on the History of Nuevo Progreso. The article supports the story as told by British Broadcasting. In fact, it goes into more detail crediting the redirection of the river for the growth and development of Nuevo Progreso Those who had previously driven to Rio Rico to enjoy that delicious Mexican cuisine, to drink, dance and bet on dog races no longer wanted to drive so far into Mexico for a relaxing evening. And so, they turned to a border town closer to the US. Nuevo Progreso became the new destination for those wanting a taste of Mexican cuisine and drink. Pharmacies, dentists, beauty salons, restaurants and souvenir shops sprang up overnight.
It truly is a small world when just a change that occurred in 2006 in the flow of a river can bring worldwide attention to the Rio Grande Valley in 2023!