U.S. Department of State
Background Notes: Mexico, April 1997
Released by the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs.
OFFICIAL NAME: United Mexican States
Area: 1,972,500 sq. km. (761,600 sq. mi.); about three times the size of
Texas. Cities: Capital--Mexico City (15 million, 1990 census). Other
cities--Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Leon. Terrain: Coastal lowlands,
central high plateaus, and mountains up to 5,400 m. (18,000 ft.).
Climate: Tropical to desert.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Mexican(s). Population (1997 est.): 95
million. Annual growth rate (net): 1.8%. Ethnic groups: Indian-Spanish
(mestizo) 60%, Indian 30%, Caucasian 9%, other 1%. Religions: Roman
Catholic 89%, Protestant 6%, other 5%. Language: Spanish. Education:
Years compulsory--12. Literacy--89%. Health (1996 est.): Infant
mortality rate--30/1,000. Life expectancy--male 70 yrs., female 76 yrs.
Labor force (33 million): Agriculture, forestry, hunting, fishing--26%.
Services--24%. Commerce--24%. Manufacturing--15%. Construction--6%.
Transportation and communication--4%. Mining and quarrying--1%.
Type: Federal republic. Independence: First proclaimed September 16,
1810; republic established 1824. Constitution: February 5, 1917.
Branches: Executive--president (chief of state and head of government).
Legislative--bicameral. Judicial--Supreme Court, local and federal
systems. Political parties: Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI),
National Action Party (PAN), Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD),
Labor Party (PT), and several small parties. Suffrage: Universal at 18.
Administrative subdivisions: 31 states and a federal district.
GDP (1997, proj.): $370 billion. Per capita GDP (1997, proj.): $3,911.
Annual real GDP growth (1997, proj.): 4.5%; (1996): 5.1%; (1995): -6.2%
Avg. annual real GDP growth (1989-94): 3%. Inflation rate (1997, proj):
18%; (1996): 28%. Natural resources: Petroleum, silver, copper, gold,
lead, zinc, natural gas, timber. Agriculture (5.8% of GDP): Products--
corn, beans, oilseeds, feedgrains, fruit, cotton, coffee, sugarcane,
winter vegetables. Industry: Types--manufacturing (22% of GDP),
services, commerce, transportation and communications, petroleum and
mining. Trade: (1996, Bank of Mexico): Exports--$96 billion:
manufacturing 84%, petroleum and derivatives 10%, agriculture 5%, other
1%. Major markets: U.S. (84%), Europe (4%), South America (4%), Canada
(2%). Imports--$89.5 billion: intermediate goods 80%, capital goods 10%,
consumer goods 7%, other 3%. Major sources: U.S. (76%), Europe (9%),
Japan (5%), Canada (2%) (1996, U.S. Department of Commerce). Imports
from U.S.--$56.8 billion. Exports to U.S.-- $73 billion.
Average exchange rate (1996): 7.60 pesos = U.S. $1.
Mexico is the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world and
the second-most populous country in Latin America after Portuguese-
speaking Brazil. About 70% of the people live in urban areas. Many
Mexicans emigrate from rural areas that lack job opportunities--such as
the underdeveloped southern states and the crowded central plateau--to
the industrialized urban centers and the developing areas along the
U.S.-Mexico border. According to some estimates, the population of the
area around Mexico City is about 20 million, which would make it the
largest concentration of population in the world. Cities bordering on
the United States, such as Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez, and cities in the
interior, such as Guadalajara, Monterrey, and Puebla, have undergone
sharp rises in population.
Highly advanced cultures, including those of the Olmecs, Mayas, Toltecs,
and Aztecs, existed long before the Spanish conquest. Hernando Cortes
conquered Mexico during the period 1519-21 and founded a Spanish colony
that lasted nearly 300 years. Independence from Spain was proclaimed by
Father Miguel Hidalgo on September 16, 1810; this launched a war for
independence. An 1821 treaty recognized Mexican independence from Spain
and called for a constitutional monarchy. The planned monarchy failed; a
republic was proclaimed in December 1822 and established in 1824.
Prominent figures in Mexico's war for independence were Father Jose
Maria Morelos; Gen. Augustin de Iturbide, who defeated the Spaniards and
ruled as Mexican emperor from 1822-23; and Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa
Ana, who went on to control Mexican politics from 1833 to 1855.
Santa Ana was Mexico's leader during the conflict with Texas, which
declared itself independent from Mexico in 1836, and during Mexico's war
with the United States (1846-48). The presidential terms of Benito
Juarez (1858-71) were interrupted by the Hapsburg monarchy's rule of
Mexico (1864-1867). Archduke Maximilian of Austria, whom Napoleon III of
France established as Emperor of Mexico, was deposed by Juarez and
executed in 1867. General Porfirio Diaz was President during most of the
period between 1877 and 1911.
Mexico's severe social and economic problems erupted in a revolution
that lasted from 1910-20 and gave rise to the 1917 constitution.
Prominent leaders in this period -- some were rivals for power -- were
Francisco I. Madero, Venustiano Carranza, Pancho Villa, Alvaro Obregon,
Victoriano Huerta, and Emiliano Zapata.
The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), formed in 1929 under a
different name, continues to be the most important political force in
the nation. It emerged as a coalition of interests after the chaos of
the Revolution as a vehicle for keeping political competition in
peaceful channels. For almost 70 years, Mexico's national government has
been controlled by the PRI, which has won every presidential race and
most gubernatorial races.
The 1917 constitution provides for a federal republic with powers
separated into independent executive, legislative, and judicial
branches. In practice, the executive is the dominant branch, with power
vested in the president, who promulgates and executes the laws of the
Congress. The president also legislates by executive decree in certain
economic and financial fields, using powers delegated from the Congress.
The president is elected by universal adult suffrage for a six-year term
and may not hold office a second time. There is no vice president; in
the event of the removal or death of the president, a provisional
president is elected by the Congress.
The Congress is composed of a Senate and a Chamber of Deputies.
Consecutive re-election is prohibited. Senators are elected to six-year
terms. Implementing constitutional changes made in 1996, for the first
time on July 6, 1997, 32 of the 128 seats in the Senate will be elected
by proportional representation from party lists on a national basis.
With this change, some states may have more Senators than others. The 32
Senators elected in 1997 will only serve three-year terms, in order to
bring the entire Senate back into the same cycle in the year 2000.
Deputies serve three-year terms. In the lower chamber, 300 Deputies are
directly elected to represent single-member districts, and 200 are
selected by a modified form of proportional representation from five
electoral regions created for this purpose across the country. The 200
proportional representation seats were created to help smaller parties
gain access to the Chamber.
The judiciary is divided into federal and state court systems, with
federal courts having jurisdiction over most civil cases and those
involving major felonies. Under the constitution, trial and sentencing
must be completed within 12 months of arrest for crimes that would carry
at least a two-year sentence. Practice often does not meet this
requirement. Trial is by judge, not jury, in most criminal cases.
Defendants have a right to counsel, and public defenders are available.
Other rights include defense against self-incrimination, the right to
confront one's accusers, and the right to a public trial. Supreme Court
Justices are appointed by the President and approved by the Senate.
National Security Mexico's armed forces in 1995 numbered about 175,000.
The army makes up about three-fourths of the total. One year of limited
training is required of all males at age 18. Principal military roles
include national defense, narcotics control, and civic action
assignments such as road-building, search and rescue, and disaster
Principal Government Officials President--Ernesto ZEDILLO Ponce de Leon
Foreign Minister--Jose Angel GURRIA Trevino Ambassador to the U.S.--
Jesus SILVA-HERZOG Flores Ambassador to the United Nations--Manuel TELLO
Macias Ambassador to the OAS--Carmen MORENO de del Cueto
Mexico maintains an embassy in the United States at 1911 Pennsylvania
Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20006 (tel. 202-728-1600). Consular offices are
located at 2827 16th St. NW, 20009 (tel. 202-736-1012), and the trade
office is co-located at the embassy (tel. 202-728-1686).
Consulates general are located in Chicago, Dallas, Denver, El Paso,
Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Antonio, San
Diego, and San Francisco; consulates are (partial listing) in Atlanta,
Boston, Detroit, Philadelphia, Seattle, St. Louis, and Tucson.
Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon was sworn in on December 1, 1994, as the
President of Mexico. A trained economist with degrees from Yale, Zedillo
served as Secretary of Programming and Budget and Secretary of Education
in the Salinas Administration prior to being elected.
President Zedillo continued the process already underway of opening
Mexico's political system, reforming the justice system, curtailing
corruption, strengthening the fight against narcotics trafficking, and
furthering Mexico's market-oriented economic policies. A severe
financial crisis occupied much of the Zedillo Administration's attention
in 1995-96, creating a need for difficult emergency economic
stabilization policies and intensified longer-term economic
restructuring. Significant progress has been achieved in some areas.
Political Scene Unexpected and traumatic events in early 1994 convulsed
the Mexican political scene. In January 1994, peasants in the state of
Chiapas briefly took up arms against the government, protesting alleged
oppression and governmental indifference to poverty. The government and
the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) have negotiated on
topics such as granting greater autonomy to indigenous peoples since
then, reaching several partial accords. There have been no clashes since
the government's unilaterally declared cease-fire in 1994, and the two
sides remain committed to a negotiated peace settlement.
In March 1994, PRI presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio was
assassinated. In September 1994, PRI Secretary General Jose Francisco
Ruiz Massieu was also assassinated. Although the gunmen in both murders
and co-conspirators in the Ruiz Massieu murder were tried and convicted,
the Mexican public is not satisfied that all the truth behind these
crimes has been uncovered.
Investigations into the murders resulted in the apprehensions in
February 1995 of a second gunman in the Colosio murder, the arrest of
the brother of former president Carlos Salinas as a suspected mastermind
behind the second crime, and the filing of charges in March 1995 against
the brother of Ruiz Massieu for obstructing investigations into the
murder. Additional charges, including illegal enrichment for amassing
multi-million dollar fortunes in overseas bank accounts, were filed
against both men and investigations were widened to include their
This has led to a flurry of public scandals regarding supposed attempts
at obstruction of justice and allegations of major corruption in police,
judicial, military and other authorities, as well as big business,
including allegations of ties to narcotics trafficking. The atmosphere
of scandal around former President Carlos Salinas has turned him into
something of an arch-villain in the popular mind.
A new group of uncertain origin and size, the Popular Revolutionary Army
(EPR), made its appearance in southern Mexico on June 28, 1996. The
Government considers the EPR a terrorist organization and has vowed to
bring the group to justice. This and the assassination of senior law
enforcement officers by suspected drug traffickers in northern Mexico
also has contributed to increased attention and concern over public
Recent Elections and Electoral Reform A record 78% of registered voters
cast ballots in the August 21, 1994, elections. Election officials
declared Zedillo of the PRI the winner with 49% of the vote, followed by
National Action Party (PAN) candidate Diego Fernandez de Cevallos with
26% and Cuauhtemoc Cardenas of the Party of the Democratic Revolution
(PRD) with 17%. Despite isolated incidents of irregularities and
problems, there was no evidence of systematic attempts to manipulate the
elections or their results, and critics concluded that the
irregularities which did occur did not alter the outcome of the
presidential vote. Civic organizations fielded more than 80,000 trained
electoral observers; foreigners -- many from the United States -- were
invited to witness the process, and numerous independent "quick
count" operations and exit polls validated the official vote
These extraordinary electoral observation measures were needed to
overcome public suspicions that electoral fraud might be committed. Over
the years, the PRI has relied on extensive patronage and massive
government and party organizational resources to maintain its
continuance in power. In many cases, the party has been accused of
fraud. However, as numerous electoral reforms implemented since 1989
have aided in the further opening of the Mexican political system,
opposition parties have made historic gains in elections at all levels.
Most of the concerns shifted from fraud to campaign fairness issues.
In 1989, the PAN became the first opposition party to win a state
governorship (in Baja California.) The PAN now governs four states:
Guanajuato, Baja California, Jalisco, and Chihuahua. The party has also
won a number of mayoral races, especially in urban areas. In recent
years, however, controversies regarding state electoral results and/or
campaign practices in Yucatan, Tabasco and elsewhere have pointed out
the need for electoral practices to catch up with reformed electoral
laws in some areas of the country.
During 1995-96 the political parties negotiated constitutional
amendments to address electoral campaign fairness issues, which passed
unanimously. In these negotiations, the parties were supported by
consultations with civic organizations. It proved a disappointment when
implementing legislation could not also be passed by consensus due
primarily to disagreements over levels of public funding for political
parties. The package of laws passed by the PRI majority in congress did
include, however, major points of consensus that had been worked out
with the opposition parties. The thrust of the new laws is to have
public financing predominate over private contributions to political
parties, to tighten procedures for auditing the political parties, and
to strengthen the authority and independence of electoral institutions.
Even before the new electoral law was passed, opposition parties have
obtained an increasing voice in Mexico's political system. While the
ruling PRI still has substantial majorities in both houses of the
Mexican Congress, 40% of its Chamber of Deputies and 33 of 128 senators
were members of opposition parties. The PAN -- the largest opposition
group -- rules over 37% of the country at the state and local levels.
The court system was also given greatly expanded authority to hear civil
rights cases on electoral matters brought by individuals or groups. In
short, a serious effort was made to "level the playing field"
for the parties.
On July 6, 1997, all 500 members of the Chamber of Deputies and 32
members of the 128-member Senate will be elected. Also, an election will
be held for the first time to choose the Mayor of Mexico City (to be
known as the "Chief of Government of the Federal District").
This official was previously appointed by the president. Elections for
state governors, state congresses, and/or for town mayors will be held
in 11 states.
Other Reforms To help reorganize the Mexican justice system, President
Zedillo appointed as Attorney General a respected member of the
opposition PAN party, the first time an opposition member has held a
cabinet post in Mexico. (Attorney General Antonio Lozano was dismissed
in late 1996 amid controversy regarding investigations into prominent
murder and corruption cases.) Constitutional and legal changes were
adopted to improve the performance and accountability of the Supreme
Court and the Office of the Attorney General and the administration of
federal courts. The Supreme Court, relieved of administrative duties for
lower courts, was given responsibilities for judicial review of certain
categories of law and legislation. A variety of laws was also passed in
1995-96 to help control organized crime.
Although the constitution provides for three branches of government, the
Mexican presidency traditionally occupies a dominant position. In order
to overcome this "presidentialism," the Zedillo Administration
has sought to develop a greater role for the Congress, notably by
inviting the participation of a multi-party legislative commission in
the Chiapas peace negotiations and seeking congressional approval of the
financial assistance package signed by the U.S. and Mexico in February
1995. The judicial reforms mentioned above are in part designed to allow
the judicial branch of government to become a more effective counter-
weight to the other two branches. The Zedillo Administration has also
promoted a "New Federalism" to devolve more power to state and
local governments, starting with pilot programs in education and health.
Education Although educational levels in Mexico have improved
substantially in recent decades, the country still faces daunting
problems. Education is one of the Government of Mexico's highest
priorities and it has increased the education budget 7.2% over 1996 to
$15 billion for 1997 -- one-fourth of the total budget. Education in
Mexico is also being decentralized from federal to state authority in
order to improve accountability.
Education is mandatory from ages six through 18. The increase in school
enrollments during the past two decades has been dramatic. By 1994, an
estimated 59% of the population between the ages of six and 18 were
enrolled in school. Primary (including preschool) enrollment in public
schools from 1970 through 1994 increased from less than 10 million to
17.5 million. Enrollment at the secondary public school level rose from
1.4 million in 1972 to as many as 4.5 million in 1994. A rapid rise also
occurred in higher education. Between 1959 and 1994, college enrollments
rose from 62,000 to more than 1.2 million.
Although education spending has risen dramatically, given increased
enrollment, a net decline occurred in per student expenditures. The
Mexican Government concedes that despite this progress, 2 million
children still do not have access to basic education, and hopes to
provide access to half of those children by the year 2000.
Sustained economic growth is vital to Mexico's prospects for a
successful evolution to a more competitive democracy. Mexico's level of
economic prosperity has a direct, though proportionally smaller impact
on the U.S. as it affects trade and migration. In recent years Mexico
has sought economic prosperity through liberalization of its trade
regime. In January 1994, Mexico joined Canada and the United States in
the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which will phase out
all tariffs over a 15-year period. Four months later, in April 1994,
Mexico joined the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
(OECD). Mexico was the first Latin American member of the Asia-Pacific
Economic Cooperation forum (APEC), joining in 1993, and in January 1996,
became a founding member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Mexico's NAFTA membership helped the Mexican economy grow by 3.5% in
1994. Following the December 1994 devaluation of the peso, however,
Mexico experienced a severe financial crisis that also threatened the
stability of other emerging market economies, especially in Latin
The United States responded by leading a group of international lenders
in making available to Mexico over $40 billion in international
financial assistance, including $20 billion from the United States. This
action helped stabilize the Mexican economy, allowing Mexico to repay
the loans to the United States more than three years ahead of schedule
and with $580 million in interest.
In 1996, Mexico's economy grew over 5%, recovering from the recession
more briskly than anticipated. Inflation fell, unemployment fell and the
peso stabilized. Mexican real GDP is expected to grow about 4% in 1997.
Although the 1995 recession was severe, with real GDP falling 6.2%,
tough stabilization measures averted an even more serious collapse and
brought about a rapid recovery. NAFTA contributed to the process of
adjustment by enabling Mexico to reduce its current account deficit
through increased exports rather than through slashing imports from the
United States, as it had following the 1982 debt crisis.
Trade Mexico was the United States third-ranked trading partner in 1996,
accounting for 9% of U.S. trade. In 1996, U.S. $56.8 billion in exports
to Mexico were almost equal to our exports to Japan, even though the
Mexican economy is just one-seventh the size of Japan's. The United
States was Mexico's predominant trading partner, accounting for 84% of
Mexican exports and 76% of Mexican imports. The chief U.S. exports to
Mexico were motor vehicle parts, office equipment, and agricultural
products; the top imports from Mexico included petroleum, cars and
coffee. The United States in 1996 was the source of 60% of all direct
foreign investment in Mexico.
U.S.-Mexico trade increased during NAFTA's first three years. In 1996,
U.S. exports to Mexico were up 36% and U.S. imports from Mexico were up
80% over 1993 levels. Cyclical economic factors, rather than NAFTA,
caused a trade deficit in 1995 and 1996; strong growth in U.S. demand,
along with the Mexican recession and devaluation of the peso, increased
U.S. imports while slowing growth in U.S. exports.
NAFTA eliminates restrictions on the flow of goods, services, and
investment in North America. In addition to phasing out tariffs, NAFTA
eliminates, as far as possible, non-tariff barriers and promotes
safeguards for intellectual property rights -- patents, copyrights, and
trademarks. The pact also includes provisions on trade rules and dispute
settlement, and its parallel labor agreement seeks to ensure full
protection of workers' rights.
Through its supplemental environmental cooperation agreement, NAFTA
marked the first time in the history of U.S. trade policy that
environmental concerns have been addressed in a comprehensive trade
agreement. The pact also serves as a basis for enhancing ongoing U.S.-
Mexico cooperation on a host of other issues that do not respect
Agriculture Mexico's agrarian reform program began in 1917, when the
government began distribution of land to farmers. Extended further in
the 1930s, this cooperative agrarian reform, which guaranteed small
farmers a means of subsistence livelihood, also caused land
fragmentation and lack of capital investment, since commonly held land
could not be used as collateral. This, combined with poor soil, several
recent years of low rainfall, and rural population growth, has made it
difficult to raise the productivity and living standards of Mexico's
Mexico's agricultural sector continues to experience heavy debt
problems, even as the government seeks to foster a shift to a market-
oriented and competitive farming industry. High interest rates for loans
have compounded the difficulty for producers, and the 1994 peso crisis
exacerbated the decline in productivity. According to the Mexican
Government's office of statistics, agriculture accounted for 5.8% of GDP
In an effort to raise rural productivity and living standards, Article
27 of the Mexican Constitution was amended in 1992 to allow for the
transfer of communal land to the farmers cultivating it. They then could
rent or sell it, opening the way for larger farms and economies of
scale. By early 1996, however, only six farmers' cooperatives had voted
to disincorporate. Since communal land use is formally reviewed only
every two years, privatization of these communal lands may continue to
be very slow.
In the past, the government encouraged production of basic crops such as
corn and beans by maintaining support prices. In order to rationalize
its agricultural sector, Mexico is phasing out its support price scheme.
Corn production dropped in 1995 and 1996 as more was imported. The
government in 1996 crafted federal-to-state agreements targeted at each
states' most urgent needs, with the goal of increasing the use of modern
equipment and technology in order to increase per-acre productivity.
In addition to this new initiative, the government is continuing
PROCAMPO, the rural support program which provides the approximately 3.5
million farmers who produce basic commodities - about 64% of all farmers
- with a fixed payment per hectare of cropland.
Manufacturing and Foreign Investment Mexico's manufacturing sector in
1996 accounted for 22% of the GDP and 21% of employment in the formal
urban economy. Manufacturing grew 11% after having declined 5% during
Mexico's recession in 1995.
The industrial sector as a whole, which along with manufacturing
includes construction, electricity and mining, grew 10% in 1996,
following a drop of 8% in 1995. Construction rebounded with 11% growth
after declining 23% in 1996.
In December 1993, Mexico passed a new foreign investment law which
promotes competitiveness and established clear rules for the entry of
international capital into productive activities. The law also permits
foreigners to own non-residential property in the "restricted
zones" - within 100 kilometers (62 miles) of the border and 50
kilometers of the coasts. Residential property in these zones still must
be acquired via a trust through a Mexican financial institution. Total
new direct foreign investment in 1995 was $7 billion, down from $11
billion in 1994. Direct foreign investment of at least $8 billion is
widely expected to have taken place in 1996, although the final tallies
have not been released.
Transportation and Communications The Zedillo Administration is
continuing the previous government's modernization of infrastructure and
services, deregulation and development of more efficient transport
systems, and increased privatization. Mexico's land transportation
network is one of the most extensive in Latin America. More than 4,000
kilometers (2,400 miles) of four-lane highway have been built through
government concessions to private sector contractors since 1989. The
36,000 kilometers (22,000 miles) of government-owned railroads in Mexico
are currently being privatized through sale of 50-year operating
concessions. The Northeast railroad, Mexico's primary freight carrier,
was privatized early in 1997 for $1.4 billion. Another significant
section, the Northwest railroad, will be privatized by mid-1997.
Tampico and Veracruz, on the Gulf of Mexico, are Mexico's two primary
seaports. Recognizing that the low productivity of Mexico's 79 ports
poses a threat to trade development, the government has steadily been
privatizing port operations to improve their efficiency.
A number of international airlines serve Mexico, with direct or
connecting flights from most major cities in the United States, Canada,
Europe, Japan, and Latin America. Most Mexican regional capitals and
resorts have direct air service to Mexico City or the United States.
Airport privatization, based on the successful experience with ports,
should begin by the end of 1997.
Mexico has taken significant steps to modernize its telecommunications
system. A key element was the privatization in 1990 of the national
telephone company, Telefonos de Mexico (TELMEX), which was sold to a
consortium of Mexican investors, Southwestern Bell, and France Telcom.
This privatization has meant an increased rate of infrastructure
enhancement. In addition, eight regional companies are providing
cellular telephone service to various parts of Mexico, resulting in a
dramatic expansion of cellular telephone users. Two larger
communications satellites have been ordered to replace the two now in
use. The government has also opened the telecommunications sector to
greater foreign investment. Starting in 1997, long-distance
telecommunications service will be a much more competitive industry in
Mexico, with nine consortia (two of them having significant fiber optic
systems of their own) giving Telmex strong competition for the customer
The Government of Mexico has sought to maintain its interests abroad and
project its influence largely through moral persuasion. In particular,
Mexico champions the principles of non-intervention and self-
determination. In its efforts to revitalize its economy and open up to
international competition, Mexico has sought closer relations with the
U.S., Western Europe, and the Pacific Basin. While the United States and
Mexico are often in agreement on foreign policy issues, some differences
remain--in particular, relations with Cuba. The U.S. and Mexico agree on
the ultimate goal of establishing a democratic, free-market regime in
Cuba but disagree on tactics to reach that goal.
Mexico actively participates in several international organizations. It
is a supporter of the United Nations and Organization of American States
systems and also pursues its interests through a number of ad hoc
international bodies. Mexico has been selective in its membership in
other international organizations. It declined, for example, to become a
member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Nevertheless, Mexico does seek to diversify its diplomatic and economic
relations, as demonstrated by its accession to GATT in 1986; its joining
APEC in 1993; becoming, in April 1994, the first Latin American member
of the OECD; and a founding member of the World Trade Organization (WTO)
in 1996. Mexico attended the 1994 Summit of the Americas, held in Miami,
and agreed to assume responsibility for coordination of the agenda item
U.S. relations with Mexico are as important and complex as with any
country in the world. A stable, democratic and economically prosperous
Mexico is fundamental to U.S. interests. Our relations with Mexico have
a direct impact on the lives and livelihoods of millions of Americans --
whether the issue is trade and economic reform, drug control, migration,
or the promotion of democracy. The U.S. and Mexico are partners in
NAFTA, and enjoy a rapidly developing trade relationship.
The scope of U.S.-Mexican relations goes far beyond diplomatic and
official contacts; it entails extensive commercial, cultural, and
educational ties, as demonstrated by the nearly 290 million legal
crossings from Mexico to the United States in fiscal year 1995. In
addition, more than half a million American citizens live in Mexico.
More than 2,600 U.S. companies have operations there, and the U.S.
accounts for 60% of all foreign direct investment in Mexico. Along the
2,000-mile shared border, state and local governments interact closely.
Since 1981, the management of the broad array of U.S.-Mexico issues has
been formalized in the U.S.-Mexico Binational Commission, composed of
numerous U.S. cabinet members and their Mexican counterparts. The
Commission holds annual plenary meetings, and many sub-groups meet
during the course of the year to discuss trade and investment
opportunities, financial cooperation, consular issues and migration,
legal affairs and anti-narcotics cooperation, cultural relations,
education, energy, border cooperation, environment, labor, agriculture,
health, housing and urban development, transportation, fisheries,
tourism, and science and technology.
A strong partnership with Mexico is critical to controlling the flow of
illicit drugs into the United States. The U.S. has certified Mexico as
fully cooperating in this effort based on an unprecedented level of
cooperation on counternarcotics and Mexico's own initiatives in fighting
drug trafficking. This is the best way to ensure that Mexico's
cooperation and anti-drug efforts grow even stronger.
During 1996, the U.S. and Mexico established a High-Level Contact Group
(HLCG) on narcotics control to explore joint solutions to the shared
drug threat, to coordinate the full range of narcotics issues and to
promote closer law enforcement coordination.
The United States and Mexico have a long history of cooperation on
environmental and natural resources issues, particularly in the border
area, where there are serious environmental problems caused by rapid
population growth, urbanization, and industrialization. Cooperative
activities between the U.S. and Mexico take place under a number of
agreements such as:
A 1944 treaty creating the International Boundary and Water Commission,
which has a wide range of responsibilities for solving U.S.-Mexico water
and boundary problems such as distributing the waters of the Colorado
River and the Rio Grande between the two countries; jointly operating
international dams and other joint flood control works along boundary
rivers; and solving border water quality control problems. Since the
early 1980's the IBWC has focused on border sanitation and groundwater
The 1983 La Paz Agreement to Protect and Improve the Border Environment.
The 1993 North American Commission on Environmental Cooperation, created
under NAFTA by the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, to strengthen environmental
laws and address common environmental concerns; and
A November 1993 agreement between the U.S. and Mexico, also under NAFTA,
establishing the Border Environmental Cooperation Commission (BECC)
which works with local communities to build or upgrade environmental
infrastructure such as wastewater treatment plants, drinking water
systems, and solid waste disposal facilities; and the North American
Development Bank (NADBANK), which leverages private sector capital to
finance border environmental infrastructure projects certified by the
PRINCIPAL U.S. OFFICIALS
Ambassador--James R. Jones
Deputy Chief of Mission--Charles H. Brayshaw
Minister-Counselor for Political Affairs--Barbro A. Owens-Kirkpatrick
Minister-Counselor for Economic Affairs--William Brew
Counselor for Labor Affairs--John Ritchie
Minister-Counselor for Public Affairs (USIS)--Donald R. Hamilton
Minister-Counselor for Consular Affairs--Bruce Beardsley
Consul General (Acting) --Richard Gonzalez
Counselor for Scientific and Technological Affairs--Paul Maxwell
Counselor for Commercial Affairs--Kevin C. Brennan
The U.S. Embassy in Mexico is located at Paseo de la Reforma 305, 06500
Mexico, DF. U.S. Mailing Address: Box 3087, Laredo, Texas 78044-3087.
Telephone (from the U.S.): (011)(52-5) 211-0042. The Embassy and the 18
other U.S. Consulates General, Consulates, and consular agents provide a
range of services to American students, tourists, business people, and
residents throughout Mexico.
U.S. Consulates General and Consulates and Officials Consulate General,
Ciudad Juarez--Larry Colbert Address: Avenida Lopez Mateos 924-N, 32000
Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua
Mailing Address: Box 10545, El Paso, Texas 79995-0545
Telephone (from the U.S.): (011)(52-16) 13-4048
Consulate General, Guadalajara--Danny B. Root Address: Progreso 175,
44100 Guadalajara, Jalisco Mailing Address: Box 3088, Laredo, Texas
Telephone (from the U.S.): (011)(52-38) 25-2998
Consulate General, Monterrey--Eileen M. Heaphy Address: Avenida
Constitution 411 Poniente, 64000 Monterrey, Nuevo Leon Mailing Address:
Box 3098, Laredo, Texas 78044-3098
Telephone (from the U.S.): (011)(52-83) 45-2120
Consulate General, Tijuana--Mirta Alvarez (Acting) Address: Tapachula
96, 22420 Tijuana, Baja California Norte Postal Address: P.O. Box
439039, San Diego, California 92143-9039
Telephone (from the U.S.): (011)(52-66) 81-7400
Consulate, Hermosillo--Sandra Salmon Address: Calle Monterrey 141 Pte.,
83260 Hermosillo, Sonora Postal Address: Box 3598, Laredo, Texas 78044-
Telephone (from the U.S.): (011)(52-62) 17-2375
Consulate, Matamoros--Atim E. Ogunba Address: Ave. Primera 2002, 87330
Matamoros, Tamaulipas Postal Address: Box 633, Brownsville, Texas 78522-
Telephone (from the U.S.): (011)(52-88) 12-4402
Consulate, Merida--David R. Van Valkenberg Address: Paseo Montejo 453,
97000 Merida, Yucatan Postal Address: Box 3087, Laredo, Texas 78044-3087
Telephone (from the U.S.): (011)(52-99) 25-5011
Consulate, Nuevo Laredo--Isiah L. Parnell Address: Calle Allende 3330,
Col. Jardin, 88260 Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas Postal Address: Box 3089,
Laredo, Texas 78044-3089
Telephone (from the U.S.): (011)(52-87) 14-0512
Address: Hotel Club del Sol, 39300 Acapulco, Guerrero
Telephone (from the U.S.): (011)(52-74) 85-7207 or 5-6600
Cabo San Lucas--David Greenberg
Address: Blvd. Marina Y Calle del Cerro, Local No. 3, Zona Centro,
Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur
Telephone (from the U.S.): (011)(52-114) 3-3566
Address: Plaza Caracol 2, 3o piso, 320323 Blvd. Kukulkan, Km. 8.5, Zona
Hotelera, Cancun, Quintana Roo
Telephone (from the U.S.): (011)(52-988) 3-0272
Mazatlan--Jerianne Nelson Gallardo
Address: Hotel Playa Mazatlan, Roldolfo T. Loaiza 202, Zona Dorada,
82110 Mazatlan, Sinaloa
Telephone (from the U.S.): (011)(52-69) 13-4444, ext. 285
Oaxaca--Mark A. Leyes
Address: Alcala 201, - Desp. 206 Oaxaca, 68000 Oaxaca, Oax.
Telephone (from the U.S.): (011)(52-951) 4-3054
Puerto Vallarta--Laura Holstrom
Address: Edificio Vallarta, Plaza Zaragoza 160, Piso 2, Int. 18, 48300
Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
Telephone (from the U.S.): (011)(52-322) 2-0069
San Luis Potosi--Kathleen C. Reza
Address: Francisco de P. Moriel 103-10, Desp. 1, San Luis Potosi,
Telephone (from the U.S.): (011)(52-481) 2-1528
San Miguel de Allende--Philip Maher
Address: Dr. Hernandez Macias 72, 37700 San Miguel de Allende,
Telephone (from the U.S.): (011)(52-415) 2-2357 or 2-0068
Tampico--Mary Elizabeth Alzaga
Address: Ejercito Mexicano No. 503-203, Col.Guadalupe 89120 Tampico,
Telephone (from the U.S.): (011)(52-12) 13-2217
Veracruz--Edwin L. Culp
5 de Junio 388, Veracruz
Telephone (from the U.S.): (011)(52-29) 31-5821
OTHER CONTACT INFORMATION
American Chamber of Commerce of Mexico, A.C. Lucerna 78-4 06600 Mexico,
Tel: (525) 724-3800
Fax: (525) 703-3908
(Branch offices also in Guadalajara and Monterrey)
U.S. Department of Commerce
International Trade Administration
Office of Latin America and the Caribbean
14th and Constitution, N,W. Washington, D.C. 20230
Tel: 202-482-0305; 202-USA-TRADE
TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program provides
Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets. Travel Warnings are
issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel
to a certain country. Consular Information Sheets exist for all
countries and include information on immigration practices, currency
regulations, health conditions, areas of instability, crime and
security, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. posts in
the country. Public Announcements are issued as a means to disseminate
information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-
term conditions overseas which pose significant risks to the security of
American travelers. Free copies of this information are available by
calling the Bureau of Consular Affairs at 202-647-5225 or via the fax-
on-demand system: 202-647-3000. Travel Warnings and Consular Information
Sheets also are available on the Consular Affairs Internet home page:
http://travel.state.gov and the Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB).
To access CABB, dial the modem number: (301-946-4400 (it will
accommodate up to 33,600 bps), set terminal communications program to N-
8-1 (no parity, 8 bits, 1 stop bit); and terminal emulation to VT100.
The login is travel and the password is info (Note: Lower case is
required). The CABB also carries international security information from
the Overseas Security Advisory Council and Department's Bureau of
Diplomatic Security. Consular Affairs Trips for Travelers publication
series, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a
safe trip abroad, can be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents,
U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-
7954; telephone: 202-512-1800; fax 202-512-2250.
Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be
obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-
5225. For after-hours emergencies, Sundays and holidays, call 202-647-
Passport Services information can be obtained by calling the 24-hour, 7-
day a week automated system ($.35 per minute) or live operators 8 a.m.
to 8 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday ($1.05 per minute). The number is 1-900-
225-5674 (TDD: 1-900-225-7778). Major credit card users (for a flat rate
of $4.95) may call 1-888-362-8668 (TDD: 1-888-498-3648)
Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at
(404) 332-4559 gives the most recent health advisories, immunization
recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water
safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled Health Information
for International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is
available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC
20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.
Information on travel conditions, visa requirements, currency and
customs regulations, legal holidays, and other items of interest to
travelers also may be obtained before your departure from a country's
embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see
"Principal Government Officials" listing in this publication).
U.S. citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in dangerous
areas, are encouraged to register at the U.S. embassy upon arrival in a
country (see "Principal U.S. Embassy Officials" listing in
this publication). This may help family members contact you in case of
Further Electronic Information:
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network. Available on the Internet,
DOSFAN provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy
information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes Background Notes; Dispatch,
the official weekly magazine of U.S. foreign policy; daily press
briefings; directories of key officers of foreign service posts; etc.
DOSFAN's World Wide Web site is at http://www.state.gov; this site has a
link to the DOSFAN Gopher Research Collection, which also is accessible
U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on a quarterly basis
by the U.S. Department of State, USFAC archives information on the
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network, and includes an array of
official foreign policy information from 1990 to the present. Priced at
$76 ($95 foreign), one-year subscriptions (MSDOS and Macintosh
compatible) are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S.
Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954.
To order, call (202) 512-1800 or fax (202) 512-2250.
National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department of
Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related information,
including Country Commercial Guides. It is available on the Internet
(www.stat-usa.gov) and on CD-ROM. Call the NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-
1986 for more information.
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