U.S. Department of State 
Background Notes: Mexico, March 1998
Released by the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs. 


OFFICIAL NAME: United Mexican States 

PROFILE 

Geography 

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. 

People 

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 (1996, 35 million): Agriculture, forestry, hunting, fishing-
-26%. Services--24%. Commerce--24%. Manufacturing--15%. Construction--
6%. Transportation and communication--4%. Mining and quarrying--1%.

Government 

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.
Administrative subdivisions: 31 states and a federal district. 
Political parties: Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), National 
Action Party (PAN), Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), Green 
Ecological Party (PVEM), Labor Party (PT), and several small parties.
Suffrage: Universal at 18. 

Economy 

GDP (1997 est.): $390 billion.
Per capita GDP (1997 est.): $4,105.
Annual real GDP growth (1997 est.): 7%; 1996, 5.1%; 1995, -6.2%. 
Avg. annual real GDP growth (1989-94): 3%.
Inflation rate (1997 proj.): 16%; 1996, 28%.
Natural resources: Petroleum, silver, copper, gold, lead, zinc, natural 
gas, timber.
Agriculture (5.3% of GDP): Products--corn, beans, oilseeds, feedgrains, 
fruit, cotton, coffee,
sugarcane, winter vegetables. 
Industry (25.9% of GDP): Types--manufacturing (19.0%), petroleum and 
mining.
Services (68.6% of GDP): Types--commerce and tourism (18.6%), 
transportation and communications.
Trade (1997 est., Bank of Mexico): Merchandise exports--$110 billion: 
manufacturing 86%, petroleum and derivatives 10%, agriculture 3%, other 
1%. Major markets--U.S. (85%), Europe (4%), South America (3%), Canada 
(2%). Imports--$89.5 billion: intermediate goods 80%, capital goods 10%, 
consumer goods 7%, other 3%. Major sources--U.S. (77%), Europe (9%), 
Japan (5%), Canada (2%). Imports from U.S.--$71.4 billion. Exports to 
U.S.--$87.1 billion (1996, U.S. Department of Commerce).
Average exchange rate (1997): 7.9 pesos=U.S.$1. 

PEOPLE 

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. 

HISTORY 

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 of whom 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. 

GOVERNMENT 

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 in the July 1997 elections, 32 of the 128 Senate seats were 
proportionally elected from national party lists. 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 relief. 

Principal Government Officials 

President--Ernesto ZEDILLO Ponce de Leon
Foreign Minister--Rosario GREEN Macias
Ambassador to the U.S.--Jesus REYES HEROLES
Ambassador to the United Nations--Manuel TELLO Macias
Ambassador to the OAS--Claude HELLER Roussant 

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. 

POLITICAL CONDITIONS 

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. 

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 people since 
then, reaching several partial accords. There have been no clashes since 
the government's unilaterally declared cease-fire in 1994. Following the 
massacre of 45 indigenous peasants in Acteal, Chiapas in December 1997, 
tensions in the state increased and pressures for a negotiated 
settlement were renewed. Draft legislation to change the Mexican 
Constitution's provisions on indigenous rights has been introduced in 
the Mexican Congress.

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 
associates. 

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 group has been largely inactive 
recently, particularly after the July 1997 mid-term elections in Mexico.

Recent Elections and Electoral Reform 

A record 78% of registered voters cast ballots in the 1994 presidential 
election. 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 
tabulation.

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. 

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 had 
obtained an increasing voice in Mexico's political system. A substantial 
number of candidates from opposition parties won election to the Chamber 
of Deputies and Senate. Many municipalities were governed by opposition 
mayors, and the PAN won the governorships of four states. 

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. 

Mid-term elections held July 6, 1997, saw large gains for opposition 
parties and marked a significant step in Mexico's political 
transformation. For the first time in its 68-year history, the PRI lost 
its absolute majority in the Chamber of Deputies. The opposition 
majority is split among four parties: the PRD, the PAN and two small 
parties, the Labor Party (PT), and the Green Ecological Party (PVEM). 
The opposition also gained ground in the Senate, where the PRI still 
retains an overall majority but fell below the two-thirds majority 
needed on constitutional amendment questions. 

In another important electoral development, the PRD candidate, 
Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, won the first modern election for mayor of Mexico 
City (this post was previously appointed by the Mexican president). In 
state elections, the PAN won two additional governorships, giving it a 
total of six. More than 50% of Mexico's population is now governed by an 
opposition party at the state or municipal level. 

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. However, 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. 
Congress' role as a co-equal balance to the Executive also received a 
boost after the July 1997 increase in opposition strength to control a 
majority in the Chamber of Deputies. 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. 

ECONOMY 

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 
America. 

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 grew about 7% 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 1997, 
accounting for 10% of U.S. trade. In 1997, $71.4 billion in merchandise 
exports to Mexico surpassed our exports to Japan, making Mexico our 
second-most important export market, 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 85% of Mexican exports and 
77% of Mexican imports. The chief U.S. exports to Mexico were motor 
vehicle parts, electronic equipment, and agricultural products; the top 
imports from Mexico included petroleum, motor vehicles, and electronic 
equipment. 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 four years. In 1997, 
U.S. exports to Mexico were up 72% and U.S. imports from Mexico were up 
118% over 1993 levels. Our trade balance with Mexico shifted from 
surplus to deficit in 1995 when strong growth in U.S. demand, along with 
the Mexican recession and devaluation of the peso, increased U.S. 
imports from Mexico while slowing growth in U.S. exports. Our bilateral 
trade deficit began to shrink in 1997 as the Mexican recovery gathered 
steam.

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. Agriculture accounted for 5.3% 
of GDP in 1997. 

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 the first nine months of 1997 accounted 
for 19% of Mexico's GDP and 15% of employment. Manufacturing grew at a 
10% annual rate through September 1997 after growing about 11% in 1996. 
Manufacturing declined 5% during Mexico's recession in 1995. 

The industrial sector as a whole, which along with manufacturing 
includes construction, electricity, and mining, grew at a better than 9% 
rate in 1997, after 10% growth in 1996, which followed a drop of 8% in 
1995. Construction grew at an 11% rate in early 1997; it had rebounded 
with 11% 1996 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, de-regulation 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, 
was privatized in June 1997 for $400 million. 

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, is 
underway. 

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. Competition in long-distance 
telecommunications service began in 1997, and competitors quickly gained 
a 30% share of the market. 

FOREIGN RELATIONS 

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.-MEXICAN RELATIONS 

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 a half-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 affairs, environment and natural resources, 
labor, agriculture, health, housing and urban development, 
transportation, fisheries, tourism, and science and technology. The 
Commission met most recently on May 5, 1997 in conjunction with 
President Clinton's visit to Mexico. 

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. President Zedillo 
formalized his government's commitment to counternarcotics cooperation 
with the United States by signing the "Declaration of the Mexican-U.S. 
Alliance Against Drugs" with President Clinton in May 1997. The 
binational alliance worked throughout 1997 to produce a "U.S.-Mexico 
Binational Drug Strategy," a document which contains 16 alliance 
objectives, ranging from drug shipment interdiction to extradition of 
drug traffickers.

BORDER AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS

Cooperation between the United States and Mexico along our 2,000-mile 
common border includes state and local problem-solving mechanisms, 
transportation planning, and institutions to address resource and 
environment issues. The Border Liaison Mechanism (BLM), established in 
1993, provides a means for the rapid mobilization of civic and law 
enforcement officials in response to problems or incidents. Eight BLMs 
are chaired by U.S. and Mexican consuls in "border pair" cities. BLMs 
work to resolve problems such as accidental violation of sovereignty by 
law enforcement officials, charge of mistreatment of foreign nationals, 
and coordination of port security. As the number of people and the 
volume of cargo crossing the U.S.-Mexico border grows, so too does the 
need for coordinated infrastructure development. The multi-agency U.S.-
Mexico Binational Group on Bridges and Border Crossings meets twice-
yearly to improve the efficiency of existing crossings and coordinate 
planning for new ones. The Binational Group also conducts an annual 
"Border Walk" to gain a first-hand impression of how border crossings 
work.

The United States and Mexico have a long history of cooperation on 
environmental and natural resource 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: 

-- An 1889 convention establishing the International Boundary 
Commission, reconstituted by the Water Treaty of 1944 as the 
International Boundary and Water Commission, United States and Mexico 
(IBWC). The IBWC has settled many difficult U.S.-Mexico boundary and 
water problems, including the regularization of the Rio Grande near El 
Paso through the 1967 Chamizal settlement. The IBWC built the Bridge of 
the Americas (BOTA) as part of that settlement, and is now replacing 
this bridge, making it a model crossing between the U.S. and Mexico. The 
IBWC divides the use of international waters, builds and operates water 
conservation and flood control projects, and constructs and maintains 
boundary markers on the land boundary and on international bridges. In 
recent years, the IBWC has worked to resolve long-standing border 
sanitation problems, to monitor the quantity and quality of border 
groundwaters, and to address water delivery and sedimentation problems 
of the Colorado River. 

-- A series of agreements on border health (since 1942), wildlife and 
migratory birds (since 1936), national parks, forests, marine and 
atmospheric resources.

-- The 1983 La Paz Agreement to protect and improve the border 
environment and Border XXI, a binational, interagency planning program, 
begun in 1996, to address environmental, natural resource, and 
environmental health concerns in the border area by identifying and 
addressing long-term objectives and goals into the 21st century.

-- The 1993 North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation 
(NAAEC), creating the North American Commission on Environmental 
Cooperation under NAFTA by the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, to strengthen 
environmental laws and address common environmental concerns.

-- A November 1993 agreement between the U.S. and Mexico, also under 
NAFTA, establishing the Border Environment 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 
BECC. 

Principal U.S. Officials 

Ambassador--vacant
Charge d'Affaires--Charles H. Brayshaw 
Minister-Counselor for Political Affairs--Valentino Martinez
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--Thomas Furey 
Consul General--Victor Abeyta 
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, 
Tel. (from the U.S.): (011)(52-5) 209-9100. 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--James Ward
Address: Avenida Lopez Mateos 924-N, 32000 Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua 
Mailing Address: Box 10545, El Paso, Texas 79995-0545 
Tel. (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 78044-3088
Tel. (from the U.S.): (011)(52-38) 25-2998 

Consulate General, Monterrey--Daniel Johnson
Address: Avenida Constitution 411, Poniente, 64000 Monterrey, Nuevo Leon 
Mailing Address: Box 3098, Laredo, Texas 78044-3098 
Tel. (from the U.S.): (011)(52-83) 45-2120 

Consulate General, Tijuana--Nick Hahn
Address: Tapachula 96, 22420 Tijuana, Baja California Norte 
Postal Address: P.O. Box 439039, San Diego, California 92143-9039 
Tel. (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 78044-3598 
Tel. (from the U.S.): (011)(52-62) 17-2375 

Consulate, Matamoros--George B. Kopf
Address: Ave. Primera 2002, 87330, Matamoros, Tamaulipas 
Postal Address: Box 633, Brownsville, Texas 78522-0633 
Tel. (from the U.S.): (011)(52-88) 12-4402 

Consulate, Merida--David Ramos
Address: Paseo Montejo 453, 97000, Merida, Yucatan 
Postal Address: Box 3087, Laredo, Texas 78044-3087 
Tel. (from the U.S.): (011)(52-99) 25-5011 

Consulate, Nuevo Laredo--Rufus R. Watkins
Address: Calle Allende 3330, Col. Jardin, 88260 Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas 
Postal Address: Box 3089, Laredo, Texas 78044-3089 
Tel. (from the U.S.): (011)(52-87) 14-0512 

Consular Agents 

Acapulco--Joyce Anderson
Address: Hotel Acapulco Continental, Costera M. Aleman 121-Local 14
39580 Acapulco, Guerrero
Tel. (from the U.S.):(011)(52-74)84-0300 or 69-0556 or 69-0505

Cabo San Lucas--Michael John Houston (to be confirmed)
Address: Blvd. Marina y Pedregal 1, Local No. 3, Zona Centro 
Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur
Tel. (from the U.S.):(011)(52-114)3-3566

Cancun--Carol Butler
Address: Plaza Caracol 2, #320-323, Blvd. Kukulkan, Km. 8.5 Zona 
Hotelera
77500 Cancun, Quintana Roo
Tel. (from the U.S.):(011)(52-98)83-0272

Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo--Elizabeth Williams
Address: Local 9, Plaza Ambiente, Ixtapa, Guerrero
Home Address: Paseo de los Hujes s/n, Esq. Palo de Arco, Col. El Hujal
40880 Zihuatanejo, Guerrero
Tel. (from the U.S.):(011)(52-755)311-08 or 426-06

Mazatlan--Geri Nelson Gallardo
Address: Hotel Playa Mazatlan, Rodolfo T. Loaiza 202, Zona Dorada 
82110 Mazatlan, Sinaloa
Tel. (from the U.S.):(011)(52-69)13-4444, ext. 285 or 16-5889

Oaxaca--Mark A. Leyes
Address: Alcala 201 Desp. 206
68000 Oaxaca, Oaxaca
Tel. (from the U.S.):(011)(52-951)4-3054

Puerto Vallarta--Laura Holmstrom
Address: Edificio Vallarta, Plaza, Zaragoza 160, Piso 2, Int. 18
Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
Tel. (from the U.S.):(011)(52-322)2-0069

San Luis Potosi--Kathleen C. Reza
Address: Francisco de P. Mariel 103, Esq. con V. Carranza, Despacho 1
San Luis Potosi, San Luis Potosi 
Tel. (from the U.S.):(011)(52-48)12-1528

San Miguel de Allende--Philip Maher
Address: Dr. Hernandez Macias 72
37700 San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato
Tel. (from the U.S.):(011)(52-415)2-2357 

OTHER CONTACT INFORMATION:

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, NW
Washington, DC 20230 
Tel: 202-482-0305; 202-USA-TRADE 
Fax: 202-482-0464. 

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:  
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-
4000. 

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). 
Registering with the embassy may help you to replace lost identity 
documents or 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 magazine of U.S. foreign policy; daily press briefings; 
Country Commercial Guides; directories of key officers of foreign 
service posts; etc. DOSFAN's World Wide Web site is at 
http://www.state.gov.

U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on an annual 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. Contact 
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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