Our Neighbor to the South - the Murder of David Hartley - Water Treaty of 1944 - Guerrero Viejo

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." - Thomas Jefferson

Special to the Reporter-Herald
David and Tiffany Hartley

OUTRAGE and shock is what every American should have felt regardless of political preference when news on October 2nd that David Hartley from McAllen had been murdered while jet skiing on Falcon Lake. His only crime was curiosity. David and his wife Tiffany were returning from their sightseeing trip from Guerrero Viejo along the Mexican border. Our anger should be directed at the cowardice of the Obama Administration. Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have remained silent on Hartley’s murder. It is a fact that Hartley was on Mexican waters returning from a historical landmark that openly invites tourists to visit. This act of violence is a disgrace to the Mexican government and is direct evidence that our Southern Border must be secured. This may be an International incident but supposedly these are our friendly Southern neighbors. The demand for drugs by Americans and the greed from the drug cartels are now on a collision course. Mexico’s good will has gone by the wayside since the drug cartels have taken over.

According to Congressman Ted Poe, R District 2, the area of Falcon Lake where the murder occurred is controlled by the Los Zetas drug cartel. Poe described the dangerous area as being on “the Mexican side all the way to the American side which is controlled by the drug cartel, the Zetas.” The Mexican government has refused to let the American government assist in finding Hartley’s body. The Mexican government is being intimidated by the Zetas and is afraid to act because of the risk to their lawmakers. Obama’s lack of leadership and weak character on taking a solid stand against the drug cartels that linger on the Mexican border has led to the murder of yet another American, an innocent Texas sightseer.

Nuestra Señora del Refugio Church

Photograph taken November 1996
Before any Restoration or Repairs

David and Tiffany are not the only ones drawn to Guerrero Viejo. This Ghost Town is a fascinating place to visit and has been photographed and documented by the University of Texas and other Texas historical organizations. Being a photographer and curious by nature my adventurous spirit took me to Guerrero Viejo in November, 1996 when all the commotion that a mysterious Ghost Town had reappeared on the Texas/Mexican border by Falcon Lake. From my experience I can relate that there must have been problems then. Travelling by car we felt a certain amount of security until a very young Mexican dressed in a dark green uniform appeared on the narrow road just before we entered Guerrero Viejo. Carrying an assault weapon and speaking in a dialect I did not fully understand he wanted to know our destination. After a brief interrogation by the Mexican, wanting to know if we were carrying drugs or guns, we were allowed to proceed. I did photograph Guerrero Viejo but quickly as by now I had become uncomfortable.

Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post/AP
Tiffany Hartley sits on her husband's motorcycle after a memorial service for David Hartley at the Family Church in McAllen, Texas, on Tuesday.

The inhabitants of Guerrero Viejo were moved to a new city established by Mexico and named Guerrero Nuevo when Falcon Dam was constructed during the 1950’s Texas drought. President Dwight D. Eisenhower met with Mexico’s President Adolfo Ruiz Cortínez in Nuevo Guerrero and inaugurated the international dam on October 19, 1953. Falcon Dam has a volume of 40,000 sq ft and a surface area of 87,400 acres. The initial purpose of the dam was for water conservation, irrigation, flood control and supplying electricity to the surrounding Mexican and American areas. It also supports recreation and is considered one of the better places to fish. There should not be any reason why Texas can not retrieve Hartley’s body. After all wasn’t the Water Treaty of 1944 signed as a “sincere spirit of cordiality and friendly cooperation which happily governs the relations between them”? The TREATY BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND MEXICO signed at Washington February 3. 1944 is enclosed for your reading pleasure.

Governor Rick Perry requested a call to Presidente Felipe Calderon and is still waiting to hear from him as far as I know. Perry is not satisfied that we have to dance to the tune of the drug cartels. Perry has been calling for more boots on the ground from the Federal Government to secure the Texas/Mexico border. Despite the fact that Obama has large ears, they are apparently deaf. Can Bill White scream any louder to get Obama’s attention? Of course not, if elected his large ears will also go tone deaf. Congressman Henry Cuellar, D District 28, has acknowledged the incident but qualifies it by saying that it happened in ‘Mexican waters’. Simply put “we can do nothing about this”. At present Cuellar is working on yet another piece of legislation that ‘would give the U.S. Coast Guard 90 days to assess and request the necessary resources for a continuous presence on the waterways’. Cuellar is waiting for Obama to sign this bill. Until we stand up to the injustices that are presently happening on our Southern Border all the legislation and paperwork are all for naught! We must not let this vicious murder be swept under the rug!

Police: Video Supports Lake Pirate Story

Texas Police: Officer's Dash Camera Caught Hartley's Car Going to Falcon Lake, Supports Tiffany's Timeline, Story of Shooting

Falcon Lake 'pirate' shooting: Where's missing boater David Hartley?

Nearly a week after Mexican pirates allegedly shot and killed David Hartley on Falcon Lake, Texas, his body has still not been found. What might be causing the delay?

Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez, who is investigating the shooting, says he has no doubt she's telling the truth.

Missing boater's wife: 'I know what happened that day'

Zapata, Texas (CNN) -- The wife of an American man missing since a reported pirate attack on a U.S.-Mexico border lake said Thursday it's "hard being judged" by people who have questioned her story, but "I know what happened that day."

Rick Perry Pressuring Mexican Government Over Lake Shooting As Protest Planned In Denver

Perry this week urged Calderon to call him within 48 hours to update him on the hunt for the body of David Hartley, whose wife says he was shot by Mexican pirates on Falcon Lake last week as they were returning to the United States on Jet Skis. Perry's office has said it expects to talk to Mexican President Felipe Calderon on Thursday

Sheriff calls on cartel to return body

Mexico fiercely protects its sovereignty on its waters, and international treaty prohibits U.S. officials from searching that side. Officials from the state of Tamaulipas began their search last Friday, but said they lacked proper directives and hoped for assistance from the Mexican Navy.


The safety and security of our Texas communities are always my first priority. I am urging all federal government agencies involved and the Mexican government to find David Hartley and cooperate with state and local officials.”


Water Treaty that both countries’ presidents signed in Washington D.C. in February 1944. According the treaty, two of three proposed dams were required in order conserve, store and regulate “the greatest quantity of the annual flow of the river in a way to insure continuance of existing uses and the development of the greatest number of feasible projects” (Article 5 of the Treaty as quoted by Byfield 1966).


Guerrero Viejo




Texas Senator John Cornyn

Texas Senator Kay B Hutchison






Make sure to check out the comments on Facebook.

This story is a tragedy.  But it is also an outrage.  All Americans should be outraged by the senseless violence that is allowed to take place along our southern border with no response from the US Government.  This is certainly not an isolated case.  There have been several Zeta pirate attacks on this lake.  It must stop and it must stop now!   Great job on reporting this.  What happens from here?

The Zetas do not leave witnesses they kill everybody and kill them again to make sure they are not alive. I find her story fishy

To bash the Obama administration at every turn.
Notwithstanding the fact had there been 10,000 TNG troops stationed around the lake, it would have changed nothing. The crime, if there was one, would have still happened. The couple crossed illegally into Mexico without clearing a designated POE. They ignored warnings of what some consider a danger zone along the border and went ahead. Because they were "adventurous".
Let's see how this plays out before we start pointing fingers. I realize all the gun nuts with itchy fingers on the trigger are all revved up and primed to get down here and "shoot em some Mexikuns", as they were when the Los Zetas invaded Laredo (remember that hoax), but the fact remains, the "crime" occurred in Mexico. Mexico has jurisdiction and are quite capable of handling the problem, if Los Zetas don't handle it for them. You have to remember, this incident has brought unwelcome attention to them. Someone will pay, and it will be the ones who committed this crime.

When wounded apply pressure! Right now that is apparently all we can do from afar. We must continue to press for a secured Texas/Mexico border from our elected officials. Governor Rick Perry I am certain is not satisfied with this despicable act of violence. Also let’s see on November 3rd how many Socialists/Democrats we can oust from office and replace them with conservative/Republicans.

Bob thanks for your comments.

So much for your theory that Mexico can handle this.    


A Mexican investigator probing the alleged killing of a Texan while jet-skiing on a border lake has been found beheaded, KRGV-TV is reporting, citing the Zapata County sheriff.

Where is Teddy Roosevelt when you need him?


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