Interview: legal expert says Mexico has strong case to sue U.S. for lost territories

Source: Xinhua| 2017-03-31 15:22:38|Editor: xuxin
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by Edna Alcantara

MEXICO CITY, March 31 (Xinhua) -- Never mind the border wall. Mexico has a strong case to sue the United States for territories its northern neighbor seized in the mid 19th century, according to a legal expert.

Armed with historical documents and testimony, Mexico could mount a legal case to annul the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ceded roughly half of the nation's territory to the United States in 1848, as part of a peace treaty that put an end to the U.S. occupation of Mexico during the Mexican-American War, Mexican criminal lawyer Guillermo Hamdan Castro told Xinhua in an interview.

Over the past three decades, Hamdan has headed a group of legal experts studying the infamous deal, hoping to see the case debated at the Hague-based International Court of Justice.

Hamdan, who says his campaign has the support of Mexican intellectuals, historians and three-time presidential candidate Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, seeks nothing less than to have the treaty "totally nullified."

Mexico "has all of the legal elements to demand the restitution of the more than 2 million square kilometers that were snatched by the United States through the treaty," Hamdan told Xinhua.

Hamdan said Mexico's case is built on a compendium of 17 tomes of testimony from members of the U.S. army and statements from former U.S. presidents, recognizing that "these territories were seized under threat."

The lawyer said the case rests on a simple premise that the accord's first sentence contains an admission that the U.S. army invaded Mexico and signing an agreement in that context renders it null.

The treaty forced Mexico to part with today's U.S. states of California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and Oklahoma.

"It will be the biggest lawsuit in the history of humanity," said Hamdan.

The case could also eclipse, if not prevent, U.S. President Donald Trump's much publicized plan to build a giant wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Hamdan conceded it would be "slim chance" for Mexico to recover the lands should the legal claim be upheld, but suggested instead Mexico could demand the United States pay compensation for the use of the land over the past 168 years.

"We are asking to be compensated in gold or in pesos," said Hamdan.

The next step, he said, is to get Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on board, as the government would have to file the lawsuit at the court.

Hamdan plans to take the documents over to the National Palace, the seat of the federal executive, soon. Meanwhile, the legal team has built a website, called "Demanda lo nuestro" or "Demand what is ours," to gather support for the initiative.