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 
national borders.

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 
subsistence farmers.

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 1996.

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 
on education.


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 


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

Consular Agents 
Acapulco--Joyce Anderson 
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

Cancun--Carole Butler 
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


American Chamber of Commerce of Mexico, A.C. Lucerna 78-4 06600 Mexico, 
D.F. Mexico 
Tel: (525) 724-3800 
Fax: (525) 703-3908 
E-Mail: amchammxamcham.com.mx 
(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 
Fax: 202-482-0464


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 
an emergency. 

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 
at gopher://gopher.state.gov. 

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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