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

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 (1996, 35 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.
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.


GDP (1997): $415 billion.
Per capita GDP (1997): $4,360.
Annual real GDP growth:  1997, 7%; 1996, 5.1%; 1995, -6.2%.
Avg. annual real GDP growth (1993-97): 2.04%.
Inflation rate (1997 est.): 16%; 1996, 28%.
Natural resources: Petroleum, silver, copper, gold, lead, zinc, natural gas, 
Agriculture (5.6% of GDP): Products--corn, beans, oilseeds, feedgrains, fruit, 
cotton, coffee, sugarcane, winter vegetables.
Industry (26% of GDP): Types--manufacturing (19.1%), petroleum and mining.
Services (62.9% of GDP): Types--personal services (19.7%), commerce and tourism 
(18.9%), financial services (14.8%), transportation and communications (9.5%).
Trade (1997, Bank of Mexico): Merchandise exports--$110.3 billion: manufacturing 
86%, petroleum and derivatives 10%, agriculture 3%, other 1%. Major markets--
U.S. (85%), Europe (4%), South America (3%), Canada (2%). Imports--$109.8 
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 (1997, U.S. Department of 
Average exchange rate (1998): 7.951 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 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.


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 6-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 6-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 3-year terms, in 
order to bring the entire Senate back into the same cycle in the year 2000. 
Deputies serve 3-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 2-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.


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 

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.  After nearly 2 weeks of fighting, clashes were halted 
by a cease-fire that remains in effect.  The government and the Zapatista Army 
of National Liberation (EZLN) have negotiated on topics such as granting greater 
autonomy to indigenous people since then, although the partial accords that were 
reached have not been implemented.

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.  Government 
attempts to re-engage the EZLN in direct talks have so far been unsuccessful. 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. A flurry of 
public scandals followed in 1995 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.  After a period of inactivity following mid-term elections in July 
1997, the EPR has, in the summer of 1998,  again begun engaging in small-scale 
actions in the southern state of Guerrero.

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 

Numerous electoral reforms implemented since 1989 have aided in the opening of 
the Mexican political system, and 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 these  issues.  Implementing legislation included 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. 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.

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.

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.

State-level elections held through August 1998 have tended to confirm the 
increasing political pluralism in Mexico.  While the PRI regained the 
governorship of one state from the PAN and held on to several others, the PAN 
won the state house in yet another state for the first time.  A PRD candidate 
also won a gubernatorial election for the first time.

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 


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 6 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 6 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 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 3 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.


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 4 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.


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 2 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 9 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.


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 managed coordination of the agenda item on education for the 
1998 Summit of the Americas in Santiago.


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 

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 annual figure of nearly 290 million legal crossings from 
Mexico to the United States.  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 June 10-11, 1998 in Washington, during which we signed new agreements on 
border affairs, the environment, public health, transportation safety, energy, 
education and cultural heritage.

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.  Following the controversy in 1998 over a U.S. money laundering 
investigation of Mexican banks and individuals (Operation Casablanca), the two 
governments agreed on procedures to improve communication and coordination in 
cases of sensitive law enforcement investigations.

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--Jeffrey Davidow
Deputy Chief of Mission--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--Larry Kerr
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


American Chamber of Commerce of Mexico
A.C. Lucerna 78-4 06600 Mexico
D.F. Mexico
Tel: (525) 724-3800
Fax: (525) 703-3908
(Branch offices also in Guadalajara and Monterrey)

U.S. Department of Commerce
International Trade Administration
Office of Latin America and the Caribbean
14th and Constitution, NW
Washington, DC 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: 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-

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 

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 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

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. It is available on the 
Internet ( and on CD-ROM. Call the NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-
1986 for more information.


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