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TITLE:  MEXICO HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993                             
DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994


Mexico is a federal republic with a president, a bicameral 
legislature, and a constitutionally independent judiciary.  The 
Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has won every 
presidential election since the party's founding in 1929, but 
in recent years and through democratic reform, the opposition 
has steadily expanded its stake in the political system.  Since 
the 1988 elections, opposition parties have gained 180 of 500 
seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 3 state governorships and 
control the governments in 10 percent of the municipalities.  
These gains reflect increased ability by the opposition to 
attract support and to organize itself, as well as the impact 
of political reforms instituted by the administration of 
President Salinas.  Nevertheless, the PRI continued to dominate 
the Government through a combination of voting strength, 
organizational power, access to resources not enjoyed by other 
political parties, and--in some elections--outright violations 
of electoral laws.  September 1993 changes in federal electoral 
law and practices were designed to make future elections more 
transparent and tamperproof.

Mexican security forces, which include the military, federal 
and state judicial police, federal highway police, and local 
police, are under the control of elected civilian officials.  
Despite progress made by the Salinas administration to curb 
human rights abuses, the security forces, in particular the 
police, continued to commit serious human rights violations in 

Mexico has a mixed economy that combines domestic market 
capitalism with some state ownership of major industries. 
Private property rights are protected by law.  The Government's 
economic reform program was successful in reducing inflation 
and restoring both domestic and overseas investor confidence.  
However, there continued to exist serious disparities of income 
and areas of severe poverty.  The North American Free Trade 
Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and the United States was signed 
in 1992 and won approval from the U.S., Mexican, and Canadian 
legislatures.  It entered into force on January 1, 1994.

Early in 1994, a primarily Indian group calling itself the 
Zapatista Army of National Liberation resorted to an armed 
uprising, initially taking control of four municipalities in 
the state of Chiapas, to protest what it regarded as government 
failure to deal effectively with social and economic problems.  

In 1993 there continued to be widespread human rights abuses 
and a frequent failure to punish violators despite government 
efforts to do so.  Important abuses included extrajudicial 
killings by the police, torture, illegal arrests, glaring 
prison deficiencies, and extensive illegal child labor in the 
informal economy.  The Government has made strong efforts to 
end the "culture of impunity" surrounding the security forces 
through reforms in the Office of the Attorney General (PGR), 
continued support to the National Commission for Human Rights 
(CNDH), and establishment in 1993 of state-level commissions 
for human rights.  These actions together with increased public 
awareness of human rights concerns have brought about a 
noticeable decline in the incidence of violations in Mexico.


Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

A number of political and human rights activists were killed in 
1993, but a political motive was not clearly established in any 
of these killings.  For example, on June 20 unknown assailants 
killed Amado Solomon Rodriguez, Campeche state leader of the 
opposition Party of Democratic Revolution (PRD).  The case was 
not solved, and there was conflicting evidence as to the 
possible motive.

The focus remained on developments in the killings of political 
and human rights activists from past years, particularly the 
1990 murder of human rights lawyer and professor Norma Corona, 
the 1988 disappearance and suspected murder of political 
activist Jose Ramon Garcia, the 1988 murders of Xavier Obando 
and Roman Gil, and the 1984 murder of journalist Manuel 
Buendia.  In the Norma Corona case, police commander Gonzalez 
Trevino remained on trial for the murder, despite the 
subsequent murders of six prosecution witnesses, several of 
whom were in police custody at the time they were killed. 
Former National Security Director Jose Antonio Zorrilla Perez 
and four others were convicted and sentenced to 35 years in the 
Buendia killing.  Two state attorneys general accused of 
killing Obando and Gil, and a former state police chief charged 
with Garcia's disappearance and murder, are in jail.

The CNDH opened a special investigation into political 
violence, including killings, in 1993.  There were 140 cases of 
violence against PRD members being investigated, of which 90 
concerned killings.  Of the 140 cases, 67 resulted in 
recommendations from the CNDH involving culpability by 
government authorities.  In 18 cases the CNDH did not find 
government authorities at fault.  The CNDH concluded 22 cases 
for lack of additional information from the complainants, and 
18 cases fell outside the CNDH's juridical authority.  Three 
cases were referred to other authorities, and six cases were 
incorporated into previously existing cases.

The police and police auxiliaries, known as "madrinas," and to 
a lesser extent the army continued to be responsible for 
extrajudicial killings.  A number of detainees and prisoners 
were killed while in police custody.  Although many of these 
cases were being investigated by the CNDH, many were not fully 
prosecuted or the guilty parties punished.  In Sonora, an 
auxiliary killed five civilians in an incident arising out of a 
traffic confrontation.  Following an attempted coverup and an 
investigation, the auxiliary, a former Mexico City policeman 
dismissed for involvement in another murder, was charged with 
multiple homicides, transportation of illegal arms, and 
usurpation of functions.  Two police commanders who attempted 
to cover up the killings were fired and charged with 
obstruction of justice.  At year's end, all three remained on 
trial.  Four other police officers, who knew of the coverup but 
did not report it, were dismissed but have not been charged 
with wrongdoing.  Attorney General Carpizo ended the practice 
of hiring police auxiliaries.  

There were a number of deaths of detainees and prisoners in 
police custody.  The most prominent was the death in 
Guadalajara of an alleged member of the drug family identified 
with the May killing of Cardinal Posada and five others.  
Investigations revealed that the drug family had been receiving 
police protection; a number of prominent police officials were 
charged with crimes as a result.  The killing of the drug 
family member was ruled an accident by Jalisco state 
authorities, but local newspapers credibly claimed that it was 
an extrajudicial killing and openly mocked the findings.  One 
1992 death of an American citizen in police custody, originally 
reported to the authorities as a suicide, has now been ruled a 
murder.  A police officer was arrested and charged with murder; 
the trial continued at year's end.

Killings of gays and male prostitutes continued in the state of 
Chiapas.  Press reports indicated that in 1992-93 at least 12 
known homosexuals and 9 male prostitutes were killed, most with 
high-calibre firearms.  At year's end, the police had solved 
none of these murders, and gay rights advocates charged they 
were making little, if any, effort to do so.

The army was also responsible for some extrajudicial killings.  
On June 23, Mexican army units claimed they had killed five 
narcotics traffickers in a shoot-out in Chihuahua state.  A 
subsequent investigation revealed that the soldiers had 
captured, tortured, and summarily executed the suspects.  
Sixteen soldiers were charged in the incident.

In Mexico's rural states, violent disputes over land sometimes 
led to extrajudicial killings.  Paramilitary bands, police 
auxiliaries, and local police controlled by political bosses 
and landowners threatened and sometimes killed indigenous 

With the establishment in 1990 of the CNDH as an independent 
entity under the Constitution and the formation in 1993 of 
official human rights commissions in each state, increased 
attention was paid to human rights at both the state and 
federal levels.  The CNDH has the power to compel officials to 
grant access and give evidence.  However, it then issues 
nonbinding recommendations that depend on executive and 
judicial organs and the weight of public opinion to ensure 
enforcement by the government entities.  To date, of the 624 
recommendations the CNDH has issued, 268 have been followed 
fully.  Eighty-two people were arrested as a result of CNDH 
recommendations to the Attorney General's office and of those, 
20 were tried, convicted, and sentenced to prison terms 
averaging over 5 years, including 3 officials who were 
convicted of torture.

     b.  Disappearance

There were no confirmed reports of politically motivated 
disappearances in 1993.

The most significant development in Mexico's continuing effort 
to resolve past disappearances was resolution of the 1988 Jose 
Ramon Garcia case, mentioned above.  Over the last 6 years, 
some human rights advocates claimed that there were more than a 
dozen disappearances, but in 1992 and 1993 no new cases arising 
in Mexico were added to the list kept by the U.N. Working Group 
on Involuntary or Forced Disappearances.

The CNDH closed its inquiries into 78 of the more than 200 
disappearance cases listed by the U.N. Working Group over that 
period.  Of the 80 cases concluded, 51 persons were found alive,
and 22 were determined to be dead.  Sixteen of the deaths were 
homicides, but in no case was there evidence that the homicides 
were politically motivated.  The remaining seven cases were 
dropped by the complainants.  Independent Mexican human rights 
groups assert that approximately 500 persons disappeared in 
Mexico over the last 23 years, mostly in the early to 
mid-1970's.  Eureka, a group formed by mothers of several 
hundred persons who disappeared during the guerrilla conflicts 
of the 1970's, continued to press for news of family members' 

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

Although prohibited by the Constitution, torture is still used 
by members of the security forces despite increased public 
awareness and some convictions of violators.  The most commonly 
used methods of torture were threats, beatings, asphyxiation, 
and electric shock.

From its establishment in June 1990 through September 1993, the 
CNDH received 1,114 complaints of torture, 847 of which were 
investigated and concluded.  All were classified as possible 
torture based on the allegations in the complaints.  Of these, 
103 were found to have involved torture, and recommendations 
were issued in those cases.  In 293 other cases, violations 
other than torture were found.

According to the CNDH, torture complaints declined again during 
1993 both in number and as a percentage of all complaints.  
During the CNDH's first year in operation (May 1990-May 1991), 
allegations of torture totaled 426 (13.4 percent of all cases), 
though many of those cases were from previous years and only 
reported to the Commission in its first year of operation.  
During the May 1992-May 1993 period, the number of torture 
allegations had fallen to 246 (2.8 percent of all cases).  From 
June to December 1993, 91 cases (1.6 percent of all cases) of 
alleged torture were lodged with the CNDH.  Although state 
human rights commission presidents and some nongovernmental 
human rights groups agreed that complaints of torture have 
declined, other human rights organizations claimed that torture 
remained at historic levels or even increased, citing frequent 
allegations to their groups.  The magnitude of the problem 
remains significant.

CNDH investigations into complaints of torture were an 
important effort to reduce violations.  However, there 
continued a pattern of failure to try, convict, and sentence 
prison officials guilty of abusing detainees.  Thirty-two U.S. 
citizens registered complaints with U.S. consulates and, with 
permission of the complainants, the U.S. Government formally 
protested 13 cases of torture or other mistreatment through 
diplomatic channels.  There has been a decline in such cases, 
as reflected in the decreasing number of formal protests over 
the past several years:  39 in 1990, 21 in 1991, and 17 in 1992.

Most prisons in Mexico lack adequate facilities for prisoners 
and are overcrowded, despite an early release program endorsed 
by the CNDH and legal reforms reducing the number of crimes 
that carry mandatory prison sentences.  In addition, an 
entrenched system of corruption undermined prison authority and 
led to abuses.  Frequently, prisoners exercise authority within 
the prison, displacing prison officials.  Conflicts between 
rival prison groups, often involved in drug trafficking, 
continued to spark lethal violence.  While a few prison 
officials were prosecuted for abusing prisoners, it was more 
common to dismiss them or to charge them with only minor 
offenses.  Urged by the CNDH, the Government accelerated a 
major prison-building program designed to reduce the 
overcrowding, lack of security, and the mixing of male and 
female prisoners and of accused and sentenced criminals that 
have added greatly to prison violence.  The federal prison 
system alone added 400 spaces for maximum security prisoners, 
and 800 more were planned for 1993 and 1994.  As of December 31,
there were 94,768 inmates in Mexican prisons:  48,994 were 
serving sentences; 45,774 were being tried.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Arbitrary arrest and imprisonment is the most common human 
rights abuse, reflected both in the complaints brought to the 
CNDH and those brought to the state commissions.  Legally, 
arrests may be made only upon the authority of a judicially 
issued warrant, with two exceptions:  suspects caught in the 
act of committing a crime, and serious crimes where there is an 
urgent need to make the arrest and no judge is available.  In 
the latter, a public prosecutor can issue an arrest warrant, 
but the suspect must be presented to a judge immediately.  In 
practice, police frequently arrested suspects without a 
warrant, even when the suspect was not caught in the act, and 
judges overlooked this irregularity.

The Constitution requires that those arrested be arraigned 
before a judge as soon as possible.  In August the Constitution 
was amended to allow detention of up to 48 hours after arrest 
in ordinary cases or 96 hours in cases where organized crime is 
alleged.  The amendment was designed to give prosecutors more 
time to prepare their cases.  Once arraigned, a judge takes the 
defendant's statement and must inform the accused of charges 
and evidence against him within 48 hours.  Within 72 hours of 
arraignment, a judge must remand the defendant to prison or 
proceed with release.  In a large majority of cases, detainees 
are released or arraigned within the time frame specified by 
law.  The impact of the amendments is not yet clear.

In 1993 arrests without warrants were somewhat fewer but 
remained common.  Attorney General Carpizo, a human rights 
advocate and former CNDH head, backed the lengthened 
prearraignment period in part to discourage such abuses.  As in 
the case of roadside narcotics searches, which Carpizo revived 
but subjected to strict new rules, the lengthened 
prearraignment period was intended both to assist law 
enforcement and to keep prosecutors out of trouble by setting 
rules they can follow.  Before August, prison populations 
contained a significant number of pretrial detainees, many of 
whom had been detained for more than the time permitted under 
the Constitution.  In recent years, the CNDH, other rights 
groups, and private counsel have won release of detainees held 
beyond the constitutional time limits, but prolonged detention 
remained an ingrained problem.

Frequent forced expulsions and unlawful arrests continued in 
rural areas.  These human rights violations often involved 
indigenous people evicted by landowners with local police and 
government support.  In February squatters who had settled on a 
plot of land in Morelos were violently driven off by special 
police, losing many of their possessions.  The state human 
rights commission and the state Attorney General's office 
concluded that the squatters had no right to the land.  At 
year's end, an investigation continued into charges of human 
rights violations during the eviction proceedings; no one had 
been charged with wrongdoing.

In Chiapas, state police were criticized for wrongfully 
arresting several groups of Indians while investigating two 
unrelated incidents in which military officers had been killed.
In both cases, several Indians were allegedly beaten and wrongly
detained.  While many of the suspects were later released, 
charges remained pending against others, and the Government 
maintained it acted properly in bringing those charges.  At the 
beginning of 1994, an armed uprising in Chiapas called 
attention to serious discontent with the human rights and 
economic situation.

Indians continued to be detained or arrested without cause as a 
result of police and military investigations into killings of 
soldiers.  An investigation by the CNDH, nongovernmental 
organizations (NGO's), and the army itself into one such case 
in Baborigame, Chihuahua, resulted in an unprecedented 
admission of responsibility by the army, which paid restitution 
to those Indians affected by the action and punished those 
responsible.  In the villages of Ocosingo and Ocotal, Chiapas, 
several Indian peasants identified as suspects in the murders 
of soldiers were arrested but then released by judges for lack 
of evidence after local human rights groups and the CNDH 
intervened.  The CNDH and the federal Attorney General's office 
investigated the arrests and recommended disciplinary action 
against the officials involved.  Other Indians involved in the 
Ocosingo case remained imprisoned on murder and other charges, 
and government officials asserted that there is evidence to 
support these allegations.

Exile of Mexican citizens is not normally practiced.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The judicial system is divided into federal and state courts, 
with federal courts having jurisdiction over most civil cases 
and those involving major felonies, including drug trafficking.
Some opposition politicians and credible independent analysts 
asserted that judicial officials were overly partial to the 
executive branch, despite appointments for life (unless 
dismissed for cause) after a tenuring period.  Three federal 
judges in Sonora were dismissed for obstructing justice, and an 
arrest warrant for obstructing justice and bribery was issued 
against a former Supreme Court justice (both unprecedented in 
modern Mexico).  Low pay and high caseloads contributed to 
continued corruption within the judicial system.

The Constitution requires that a court must hand down a verdict 
within 4 months of arrest for crimes that carry a maximum 
sentence of 2 years or less, and within a year for those with 
longer maximum sentences.  The trial itself, sentencing, and 
appeals can delay the final outcome for significant periods of 
time, sometimes adding a year or more to the entire process.  
Trial is by judge, not jury, in nearly all criminal cases.  
Defendants have a right to counsel, and public defenders are 
available.  Other rights include protection against 
self-incrimination, the right to confront one's accusers, the 
right to a translator if one's native language is not Spanish, 
and the right to a public trial.  Such protections are not 
always observed in practice.  The long trial process is one of 
the major causes of overcrowding in the prison system, as those 
who do not qualify for or cannot post bond swell the prison 

Imprisonment of rural indigenous people, often on charges of 
cultivating narcotic plants, puts a heavy demand on the prison 
system.  Human rights advocates argue convincingly that many 
Indians were denied fair trials because of language and 
cultural barriers, as well as poverty.  The CNDH began a 
program in 1992 to seek early release for prisoners, including 
indigenous people, and to improve compliance by federal and 
state officials with legal requirements that indigenous people 
be represented fairly.  More than 1,000 Indians benefited from 
the early release program and the general parole program in 

Some human rights groups claim that many indigenous prisoners 
are political prisoners because language and cultural barriers 
denied them fair trial.  The Government disputes the claim, 
charging that there is evidence that those whom human rights 
groups consider to be political prisoners have been guilty of 
common crimes such as criminal association, homicide, and 
damage to property.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 

The Constitution provides for the rights of privacy and freedom 
from intrusion by the Government into homes, family, and 
correspondence.  However, although search warrants are required 
by law, unlawful searches without warrants occurred frequently, 
and there continued to be credible reports of wiretapping.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and the press, 
but there remained significant restrictions on these freedoms.  
Opposition leaders freely voice their criticism of the 
Government, and there is a large number of newspapers and 
magazines with a wide range of editorial views.  The 
Government's control of a significant advertising budget and 
its ability to reward favored journalists by providing them 
access to officials were used to discourage unfavorable 
reports.  A number of journalists depended upon receipt of 
under-the-table payments from the often public entities they 
covered to supplement low wages.

There were signs of change in the relationship between the 
Government and the press.  The government practice of paying 
the press to run material it provided as news articles was 
banned, though some agencies may still do so, disregarding the 
prohibition.  The Government put into effect clear rules 
restricting advertising by government entities in the press and 
requiring receipts for any press expenses.  Several newspapers 
revised their wage and advertising revenue distribution 
policies to reduce or eliminate abuses.  In 1992 the Government 
announced that it would no longer cover expenses incurred by 
reporters accompanying the President at home (it had earlier 
ended the practice on travels abroad).  Two of three remaining 
government-owned television stations were sold to a private 
group that will provide significant new competition in national 
television media.  Nevertheless, the Government's continuing 
control over broadcast license renewals and a reluctance by 
journalists and newspaper owners to undermine their access to 
and relationship with the Government contributed to the media's 
tendency toward self-censorship.

During campaign periods, the Federal Electoral Code provides 
opposition parties with 15 minutes per month of television 
time, plus additional time in proportion to their electoral 
strength.  In addition, federal law reforms passed in 1993 
stipulated that all parties seeking to buy more time from 
commercial stations shall have equal access and pay the same 
rates.  If several parties compete for the same time slots, 
there is a procedure to divide the slot in two, distribute the 
right to buy slots in the first half pro rata among all 
parties, and allot the right to buy slots in the second half in 
proportion to a party's polling in the immediate past federal 
election.  A procedure was also mandated to limit overall 
campaign spending that will include media time and space.

Opposition politicians and others have long claimed that the 
principal television networks accord the government party 
inordinate news coverage, particularly at election time.  There 
continued to be credible allegations that the media did not 
give government critics as much air time as government 
supporters.  The new law requires the Federal Electoral 
Commission to inform media of a general requirement for fair 
treatment, but there is no provision for a "right of reply" 
under the law.

Violence and threats against journalists continued to be a 
problem.  There were at least five reported cases of 
journalists killed in gangland style during the course of the 
year.  Others reported receiving threats.  Investigations 
continued into these murders, but none appeared politically 
motivated.  A senior national security official was convicted 
in the 1984 murder of journalist Manuel Buendia.  Human rights 
advocates and others speculated that narcotics traffickers and 
corrupt officials protecting them have been behind many 
assaults on journalists.

The July 1991 death of physician and columnist Victor Manuel 
Oropeza Contreras remained unresolved.  Two suspects initially 
charged with the murder were released in 1992 in compliance 
with a recommendation from CNDH; a new prosecutor is continuing 
the investigation.  The police officials who made the two 
arrests were tried for fabricating that case.

In response to a complaint by the Union of Democratic 
Journalists, the CNDH began an inquiry in 1990 into 55 cases of 
alleged abuse of journalists' human rights.  Of the original 
55 cases, the arrests of 3 persons responsible for the murder 
of journalist Javier Juarez brought to 41 the cases concluded 
by the CNDH either through arrests, final judgments (including 
convictions), or dismissals for lack of evidence or interest by 
complainants.  Police investigations pursuant to CNDH 
recommendations continued in the 14 cases where recommendations 
were issued.  The CNDH did not establish a political motive in 
any of the 41 cases, although as noted above, a corrupt security
official was convicted of the Buendia murder.  In December 1992,
the CNDH updated its report and announced that it had embarked 
on a second stage, investigating 22 new cases.  Of these, three 
new cases were concluded; in two cases the CNDH found no 
violation, and in the third the complaint was withdrawn.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution grants the right of peaceful assembly for any 
lawful purpose.  A government permit is generally required for 
major demonstrations.  The Government permits demonstrations by 
a broad range of political groups.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The Constitution permits persons to practice the religion of 
their choice, and that right is honored in fact.  Religious 
entities may acquire legal status after operating in Mexico for 
5 years, own property, and operate private schools but are 
restricted from owning businesses and communications media.  
Individual clergy may be candidates for political office but 
only after a period of separation from their religious 
functions.  Otherwise, clergy remain barred from holding public 
office and advocating partisan political positions.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

Movement within and outside the country is unrestricted.  The 
Government has customarily admitted persons recognized as 
refugees by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. 
Approximately 45,000 Guatemalan refugees (up from 43,000 in 
1992) reside in camps and resettlement areas in southern 
Mexican states.  The refugee population grew due to high birth 
rates, despite repatriations of 2,500 refugees in January and 
1,300 refugees in December.  Since 1990 they have been 
permitted to accept work outside their camps and may travel 
freely in the five-state area of Chiapas, Campeche, Quintana 
Roo, Tabasco, and Yucatan.  The Government estimates that an 
additional 400,000 Central Americans, mostly Guatemalans and 
Salvadorans, are living and working in Mexico.  These pre-1990 
undocumented Central Americans lead a precarious existence, are 
subject to deportation when caught, and are often exploited as 
a source of cheap labor.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Under the Constitution, citizens have the right to change their 
government through periodic elections.  The Institutional 
Revolutionary Party (PRI) dominates Mexican politics and has 
controlled the Government since its founding in 1929.  It won 
every presidential election since then and has maintained 
power, in part, by relying on public patronage, use of 
government and party organizational resources, and--according 
to respected independent observers--electoral fraud.  Recent 
reforms enacted by the Government are intended to ensure that 
future elections will be, and will be seen to be, free and 
fair.  Opposition parties have argued that the reforms do not 
go far enough to ensure that objective fully.

Nine states elected governors, state legislators, and municipal 
mayors in 1993.  The PRI won all the gubernatorial contests. 
Most of those victories were won by wide margins and prompted 
only scattered protests by opposition parties who claimed 
electoral law violations.  In several cases, however, 
opposition parties strongly contested the PRI victories, and 
credible observers in some instances attributed them to 
electoral fraud.  For example, the PRD rejected official 
results that declared the PRI candidate governor in Guerrero in 
February and in Nayarit in July.  In both cases, the PRD 
asserted that vote tallies were distorted by various means that 
violated electoral laws.  In Guerrero, the PRD alleged that too 
few people voted to make the election legitimate.  The PRI 
candidates took office in both states amid continuing 
opposition protests.  The conservative National Action Party 
(PAN) was the protagonist in less extensive protests over the 
elections in Baja California Sur in February.  Although local 
PAN members claimed that their candidate had won the 
governorship, the national PAN leadership conceded its loss.

In the Yucatan, the PRI proposed in April that the November 
gubernatorial election be postponed until 1995, seen as an 
attempt to prevent the popular PAN mayor of Merida from winning 
the position just months before general elections in August 
1994.  The measure was passed in the PRI-dominated state 
legislature, despite PAN protests.  Later, however, the PRI 
proposed that the gubernatorial election be held in November as 
scheduled, but for only an 18-month term.  New elections for 
governor then would be held in May 1995.  The state legislature 
also approved this proposal, again without PAN support.

Yucatan elections were held on November 28, with civic action 
groups reporting heavy voter turnout and noting some 
irregularities in voting procedures.  Opposition parties, led 
by the PAN, registered complaints with the state electoral 
commission against procedures in 57 polling places throughout 
the state.  On December 1, the Yucatan interim governor, from 
the PRI, unexpectedly submitted her resignation, possibly over 
the manner in which the elections were conducted; the 
resignation was not accepted by the state legislature.  On 
December 5, the Yucatan electoral commission formally declared 
the PRI candidates victors in the gubernatorial and Merida 
mayoral races.  The PAN subsequently launched a series of 
protest rallies, led by PAN presidential candidate Diego 
Fernandez.  After further protests and deliberations, the PRI 
mayor-elect of Merida resigned his office on December 20, and 
the electoral commission awarded the post to the PAN candidate 
who had finished second in the official results.  The 
commission also dismissed most of the PAN's other challenges, 
and the PAN ended its public protests over the elections.

Continuing changes to the Constitution and reforms of electoral 
legislation have somewhat reduced the PRI's advantages.  The 
Congress adopted constitutional amendments and revised the 
electoral law to double the size of the Senate, guarantee the 
opposition at least 25 percent of the seats, and revise 
(effective in 1999) the requirements for president by 
eliminating the bar to native-born Mexicans of foreign-born 
parents.  In addition, the changes establish campaign and party 
financing limits along with an audit function in the 
semiautonomous Federal Electoral Institute (IFE), eliminate the 
clause that gave the party achieving a plurality of 35 percent 
or more of the vote an automatic majority in the lower house, 
and give parties access to commercial media time based on 
electoral strength.  The PRI, PAN, and a smaller party voted 
for these measures.  The PRD demurred, arguing that the IFE and 
other organizations running the elections should be controlled 
by the parties, not the Government.  The PRD is correct in its 
contention that the Government still has substantial influence 
over the IFE.  Mexico's Secretary of Government remains as 
president and a voting member of the IFE governing council.  
The current IFE Director General served as a subsecretary in 
the Secretariat of Government before taking the post; his 
predecessor went on to become the victorious PRI candidate for 
governor of Mexico state.

The 1993 changes did, however, give opposition party 
representatives and citizen members-at-large more votes than 
PRI and IFE officials combined on the IFE's district and state 
electoral boards, which perform the critical first review of 
campaign results and complaints.  In addition, the legal 
changes buttressed the autonomy of the Federal Electoral 
Tribunal (TFE), which adjudicates federal election disputes, by 
adding a five-member appellate panel, presided over by the TFE 
president and including four members who must be federal 
judges, nominated by the Supreme Court and approved by 
two-thirds of the Congress.  The appellate panel will pass 
final judgment on the elections of federal deputies and 
senators.  As a result, newly elected federal legislators will 
no longer sit in judgment over their own elections.

In another move to legitimate electoral processes in Mexico, 
the IFE began a campaign late in 1992 to distribute new voter 
credentials with photographs and also updated the voter 
registry that was compiled in 1991.  The law requires that the 
list of those receiving voter credentials be given to all 
parties in sufficient time to review the list and the 
distribution of voter credentials.  Opposition parties remain 
concerned that the process of producing and distributing 
credentials may be abused by printing duplicate credentials or 
selective distribution.  In a further effort to instill 
confidence in its decisions and reduce the opportunity for 
political influence, the IFE interviewed, tested, and recruited 
2,300 individuals to become its new professional civil service 

Although improved, the revised Electoral Code was criticized 
for setting new, more stringent standards for parties seeking 
to form a coalition, such as that which supported PRD leader 
Cuauhtemoc Cardenas in 1988.  Coalition parties meeting the new 
standards are to be treated as a single party for the purpose 
of the election.  As such they are entitled to only one space 
on the ballot, to one share (equal to the largest coalition 
party's share) of federal financing, and to one party's share 
of federal funding.

Increased government efforts to redress electoral deficiencies 
at the federal level have not been matched at the state and 
local levels where contests continue to provoke controversy.  
State electoral laws have not kept pace with changes at the 
federal level.  Local elections continue to be subject to the 
influence of political bosses who have traditionally controlled 
certain towns or regions and are loathe to lose their power 
base.  Nonetheless, 12-15 million Mexicans are governed by 
opposition parties at the state and local levels.  Opposition 
leaders assert that those gains have laid the foundation for 
further advances at the state and national levels.

Under Mexican law, indigenous peoples have the same political 
rights as all other citizens.  While there is no separate 
indigenous political party in Mexico (although evangelical 
Christian Indians in Chiapas state have broached the idea of 
forming their own party), in many states--particularly Chiapas, 
Oaxaca, and Guerrero--indigenous voters make up an important 
percentage of the population.  Traditionally, indigenous voters 
strongly backed the ruling PRI, with the Government in turn 
allowing local groups some autonomy on economic and social 
issues.  Opposition politicians and human rights advocates have 
criticized elections in indigenous areas, saying that the 
reported results often reflect distortion of the voting process 
and not a genuine consensus to support the PRI.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

Although the Government permits both domestic and international 
human rights groups to operate without restrictions or official 
harassment, human rights monitors continued to be subject to 
threats.  Well-known human rights monitor Teresa Jardi, who 
received five written death threats in 1992, rejoined the 
Attorney General's office in 1993 and is now the Attorney 
General's delegate in the state of Chihuahua and in charge of 
all federal police there.  A high-level investigation into the 
threats against her did not determine who had issued the 
threats, which have since ceased.  Victor Clark, a human rights 
advocate in Tijuana who issued a study charging that torture 
continued to be a frequent human rights violation in Baja 
California, was sued for libel by a police official whom Clark 
accused of involvement in such abuses.  The suit against Clark 
is being monitored carefully by many who fear it may dissuade 
others from reporting abuse.

In June 1990, President Salinas established the semiautonomous 
National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH) and appointed 
respected jurist Jorge Carpizo McGregor as its president.  In 
January 1992, constitutional reforms took effect making the 
CNDH legally independent.  The Commission's mandate does not 
extend to jurisdiction over the substantive aspects of labor or 
electoral matters.  It may, however, investigate claims of 
related abuse of nonlabor or political rights, such as failure 
to proceed with required administrative actions by labor boards 
or physical or other abuse in connection with an election 
process.  The Code of Official Conduct provides that CNDH 
officials investigating a complaint have the right to enter 
immediately any government office or prison and that federal 
government officials must respond to CNDH requests for 

The CNDH, whose president calls himself an ombudsman, must rely 
solely upon the pressure of public opinion and the accuracy of 
its investigations to induce compliance with its recommendations
to state and federal authorities to investigate and prosecute 
transgressors.  The recommendations are not legally binding.

Since announcing in June 1992 that too many of its 
recommendations had been accepted but only partially 
implemented, the CNDH pursued an aggressive campaign to enforce 
full compliance.  In the last 2 years, as a result of CNDH 
recommendations to the Attorney General's Office alone, 20 
Mexican officials were tried and convicted of abuse and jailed 
for terms averaging more than 5 years.  Many more cases were 
still under trial.  In addition, the CNDH developed a 
nationwide register of public officials punished for human 
rights violations to prevent such officials from being rehired 
by another public office or agency.

The constitutional change making the CNDH independent also 
required state human rights commissions to be established by 
legislation, not executive order.  The state commissions in the 
30 states and federal district became operational in 1993.

There was no evidence of any attempt by the Government to 
retaliate against human rights critics in 1993.  Ranking 
officials routinely meet with domestic and international human 
rights activists to discuss human rights problems.  The Salinas 
Government made a conscious effort both to improve protection 
of human rights in Mexico and to respond to criticism at home 
and abroad on human rights issues.  Mexican NGO's and 
international organizations such as Amnesty International and 
Americas Watch continue to report rights abuses in Mexico, 
especially torture and illegal detention.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status


Historically, women have played a subordinate role economically,
politically, and socially although they are treated equally 
under the law.  The constitutional provision for equal pay for 
equal work has never been enforced.  The traditional women's 
role is changing, albeit slowly, as they become increasingly 
active economically and politically; one woman is the leader of 
the PRI in the Congress, and another woman led the PRD 
congressional delegation, the third largest.  Women hold 
important union leadership roles, and they have the right to 
file for separation and divorce and to own property in their 
own name.

Domestic assault is a crime, but the magnitude of the problem 
is unclear because it is reported infrequently.  Women appear 
to be reluctant to file reports of abuse or to press charges; 
human rights groups say that they receive relatively few 
complaints of such abuse.  When notified, police are reluctant 
to intervene in what is often considered a domestic affair.  
Informed sources indicate that as many as 90 percent of 
incidents of abuse may go unreported.  The CNDH has included 
programs and publications on women's rights in its training and 
education campaign, and the Center Against Violence toward 
Women has worked to encourage rape victims to come forward and 
report sexual crimes.  Mexico's first National Conference on 
Human Rights and Women, held October 20-22, adopted an action 
plan to increase awareness and enforcement of women's rights.


There is no societal pattern of abuse against children, but 
child advocates report many cases of such abuse.  In 1992 the 
government-sponsored National Action Program for Children 
reported receiving 94,000 cases of reported abuse and opened 
criminal investigations in almost 1,000 cases.  The Government 
devotes a major portion of its discretionary budget to social 
spending, including programs to assist children.  Some 500,000 
children receive medical and nutritional assistance as well as 
educational grants through the national solidarity program.  
Advocates call for even greater levels of assistance.  The 
protection of children in Mexico is the responsibility of the 
National System for the Total Development of the Family (DIF), 
an autonomous agency within the Government's social services 
sector.  DIF employs social workers throughout the country to 
investigate child abuse allegations, cases of abandoned 
children, infant malnutrition, and adoptions.

     Indigenous People

The Government encourages indigenous groups, many of which do 
not speak Spanish, to participate in political life, and it is 
respectful of their desire to retain elements of their 
traditional lifestyle.  Indigenous people do not live on 
independently governed reservations, although many indigenous 
communities continue to exercise considerable local control 
over economic and social issues.  These communities continue to 
apply their traditional law to resolve a variety of disputes, 
including allegations of crimes.  However, these groups remain 
largely outside the country's political and economic 
mainstream, a result of longstanding patterns of economic and 
social development, and in many cases their ability to 
participate in decisions affecting their lands, cultural 
traditions, and the allocation of natural resources is 
negligible.  At the beginning of 1994, these problems were 
particularly highlighted by an armed uprising in Chiapas 
state.  Agrarian law reforms designed to promote sustainable 
economic development may negatively affect traditional 
indigenous land ownership.

Human rights groups continued to make credible claims that some 
indigenous defendants in criminal cases are not treated fairly, 
despite the 1991 amendment to federal law requiring an 
interpreter at every stage of a criminal proceeding for 
indigenous peoples not fluent in Spanish.  Knowledge of the 
Spanish language is essential to work outside indigenous areas, 
and Indians who do not speak Spanish find entering the outside 
workplace very difficult.

In Chiapas, political ties between the PRI and tribal leaders 
have ensured both local autonomy and PRI victories in the 
indigenous communities.  Often the tribe would select its 
leader, the PRI would endorse the choice, and indigenous voters 
would vote a straight PRI ticket for local, state, and federal 
offices.  This practice allowed local leaders to maintain 
autonomy and ties to the national political structure but 
failed to provide a means to remove corrupt or ineffective 
leaders once they obtained PRI backing.

Indians have protections under Mexican law, ranging from the 
right to own land communally to the right to language 
interpretation in court cases.  Indian communities also receive 
support from social and economic assistance programs.  However, 
deep dissatisfaction among the Indians stems, in part, from the 
ineffectiveness of legal guarantees and social welfare programs 
to achieve the goals they expect.

The CNDH received 137 complaints from individuals or groups 
living or working in indigenous communities from May 1992 to 
May 1993.  Most complaints pertained to the administration of 
justice and judicial procedures, arbitrary arrests, torture, 
abuse of authority, failure to carry out land dispute 
resolutions, and refusal to award and restore lands.  During 
the same period, the CNDH made recommendations in favor of 17 
complainants, faulting the authorities for procedural 
deficiencies, abuse of authority, delays in the administration 
of justice, and failure to carry out arrest warrants.  Most 
recommendations were accepted, and legal proceedings have begun 
and, in some cases, already concluded.  The CNDH's civic 
education work to end human rights abuses of Mexico's 
indigenous people continued and expanded.

     Religious Minorities

Discrimination against persons on the basis of religious 
affiliation is illegal, and no complaints of such abuse were 
brought against the Government.  In Chiapas, indigenous people 
who converted from their traditional Catholic religion to 
evangelical faiths continued to be forcibly expelled from their 
houses by other villagers, despite efforts by the state 
government and the Catholic hierarchy to stop such actions.  
There was at least one attempt by local residents in Nuevo Leon 
in 1993 to stop construction of an evangelical church.  After a 
delay, construction continued.  There were also credible 
reports of private businesses preferring Catholic to 
non-Catholic job applicants.

     People With Disabilities

Disabled access to buildings and other facilities is seldom 
seen in Mexico and not required by law outside Mexico City, 
where it was recently mandated.  Special education for the 
disabled is not widely available.  Handicapped persons hold 
prominent positions in political parties and in the workplace 
but do not appear to receive any special assistance by law or 
in fact.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The Constitution and provisions of the Federal Labor Law (FLL) 
give all workers the freedom to form unions to defend their 
interests.  Unions must register with federal or state 
government authorities to obtain legal status.  Unions may 
freely join labor centrals without the Government's prior 
approval, but centrals too must register to acquire legal 
status.  Registration requirements, involving submission of 
basic information about the union, are not onerous.  There have 
been repeated allegations by labor activists, however, that 
federal or state labor authorities use this administrative 
procedure improperly to withhold registration from groups 
considered disruptive to government policies, trade union 
leaders, or enterprises.  Privately, some employers and trade 
unionists supportive of the government agree this occurs 
occasionally.  The considerable delays allow for a variety of 
outside pressures from employers, unions, and government or 
political party officials either in favor of or in opposition 
to the registration application, which, on occasion, have led 
to public protests, demonstrations, and controversy.  However, 
no such delays were reported or aroused controversh in 1993.

The Federal Government's Secretariat of Labor and Social 
Protection (STPS), Arbitration and Conciliation Board (JFCA), 
and other agencies apply and enforce these laws with reasonable 
fairness and efficiency.  There are occasional errors or 
oversights, however, and vociferous public complaints by losing 
parties to disputes are frequent.  This issue is complicated by 
the federal system which reserves some jurisdiction to the 
states.  Some state governments are reputed to be less fair and 
efficient in enforcing labor law than others.  According to 
federal labor authorities, labor law is more effectively 
enforced in sectors under federal jurisdiction than in those 
under state jurisdiction.  NAFTA and its supplemental 
agreements will enlarge the area of federal jurisdiction.

About 30 to 35 percent of the total Mexican work force is 
organized in trade unions.  Most of these are members of 
several large union confederations, known as labor centrals, 
most of which belong to a national umbrella organization, the 
Labor Congress (CT--see below).  Unions and labor centers, 
including independent unions and those not allied with the 
governing PRI party, are free to affiliate with international 
labor organizations and participate in them actively.

Mexico maintains legal restrictions on public employees that 
contravene international labor standards.  In examining 
compliance by member governments which have ratified the 
International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention on Freedom of 
Association, the ILO Committee of Experts (COE) reminded Mexico 
again in 1993 that several clauses of its Federal Government 
Employees Law do not conform to this Convention.  The law 
allows only one union per public body and prohibits public 
servants from leaving their union, reelecting their leaders, or 
joining workers or peasants unions.  However, some public 
sector union leaders have been reelected despite these 
restrictions and union statutes.  The COE said the law may 
legitimately restrict collective bargaining and certain other 
activities to "the most representative organization" but 
without prohibiting existence of other organizations, and again 
asked the Government to amend the law.  The COE also reiterated 
a similar reminder about another clause institutionalizing 
trade union monopoly in the public banking sector, but it noted 
with satisfaction that constitutional amendments and the 
privatization of many banks had freed their employees of such 

The largest trade union central is the Confederation of Mexican 
Workers (CTM), organizationally a major component of the PRI.  
In the past, CTM members were automatically PRI members, but 
the PRI shifted to individual memberships in 1990.  The CTM, 
other PRI-allied federations, and a number of autonomous, 
mostly PRI-allied unions (a total of 37 organizations) belong 
to the CT, a coordinating body which represents approximately 
85 percent of Mexico's organized workers.

Traditionally, a significant number of union officials held 
appointive and elected positions in federal and state 
governments and in the ruling PRI, and there was significant 
union influence in nominating PRI candidates at all levels of 
government.  This symbiotic relationship gave labor unions a 
degree of influence in the Government but similarly limited 
their freedom of action.  The CT, however, remains primarily a 
coordinating body among the CTM and most other PRI-allied 
unions which can be mobilized to support the PRI's positions on 
selected political issues and in election campaigns.  Union 
officials continue to support PRI political candidates and 
generally support government economic policies, but the labor 
sector's voice in policy formulation has greatly diminished.  
When systemic reforms were instituted in the late 1980's, the 
mainstream labor organizations lost strength within the PRI.  
Half of the PRI national political council is now chosen on a 
territorial basis, and only half, rather than all, on a 
sectoral basis.  (The national labor centrals are one sector).  
After 1991 federal legislative elections with fewer than usual 
PRI labor candidates, the percentage of CT senators and 
deputies in the Federal Congress fell to less than 10 percent.  
(Only 3 of 62 senators are from the labor sector, though 1 of 
these heads the Senate.)  Only 3 of 31 state governors are 
former labor leaders.  These factors, as well as the reality of 
privatization and economic restructuring of the economy, 
prompted a debate within the CT about how best to adjust to 
changing circumstances.  In an example of the changes taking 
place in government-union relations, the powerful Teachers' 
Union already ended its PRI affiliation, and others may 
eventually follow suit.

The FLL grants workers, including public sector and public 
enterprise workers, the right to strike.  It requires a 6- to 
10-day advance strike notice, followed by a brief, government-
sponsored mediation effort.  If a strike is then ruled 
nonexistent, employees must return to work within 24 hours or 
face dismissal for cause.  If it is legally recognized, the law 
requires the company or the subunit that is the strike target 
to shut down totally.  Not even management officials may enter 
the premises until the strike is resolved.  While some strikes 
are declared nonexistent, many are declared legal, and many 
occur.  Strike threats are often used to secure collective 
agreements (as with the airline pilots in 1993) without strikes 
actually occurring.  The FLL also permits strikes by all public 
sector and private enterprise employees, but they are rare.

From January to September 1993, 4,142 notices of intent to 
strike were filed with the JFCA, and 121 actual strikes 
occurred in industries under federal jurisdiction.  In 1992 
there were 6,815 notices of intent to strike and 156 actual 
strikes, of which 33 continued.  The comparable figures for 
1991 were 7,006 strike notices and 136 strikes.  There were 
also 422 collective conflicts without strike notice from 
January through June 1993, compared to 1,017 in all of 1992 and 
832 in 1991.  The FLL provides protection against dismissal for 
striking or other reasons and against other retribution for 
striking.  While the FLL prohibits direct retribution against 
strikers, indirect pressures may be used from time to time by 
employers or state or even federal government authorities to 
avoid costly strikes, and employers may try to find ways to rid 
themselves of strikers.  Appeal is to the JFCA, which is quite 
punctilious and reasonably fair and objective in applying the 
FLL, though there are often delays, as in other aspects of the 

The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) 
alleged in 1993 that although the right to strike exists in 
law, workers are subject to arbitrary dismissal and violence 
when exercising this right.  It cited the 1992 arrest of 
Matamoros CTM leader Agapito Gonzalez Cavazos on 3-year-old tax 
fraud charges on the eve of a union strike deadline as an 
example of government interference in collective bargaining in 
the in-bond export ("maquiladora") industry.  While the ICFTU 
and human rights organizations saw his arrest as intended to 
intimidate workers, the union achieved most of its demands, and 
Gonzalez, released on bond and reinstated in his union, was 
reported once again to be seeking major wage increases in new, 
upcoming negotiations.  The head of the Matamoros state CTM, 
Diego Navarro Rodriguez, was also arrested and jailed on tax 
fraud charges but in this case replaced by another CTM leader 
with Gonzalez' support.

The ICFTU also criticized the Government's handling of the 1992 
Volkswagen strike in Puebla, in which 14,000 workers were 
dismissed when they refused to return to work after their 
strike was declared illegal and later rehired on terms more 
favorable to Volkswagen, with the approval of the JFCA.  
According to the ICFTU, police with trained dogs and clubs 
attacked a peaceful demonstration against the dismissals, 
injuring 12 workers.

A JFCA ruling in September denied an appeal by the ousted 
leadership of the Cuautitlan (Mexico City) local of the 
national Ford Autoworkers Union of the CTM for reinstatement.  
This led to charges by the ousted committee that this was a 
case of CTM-Ford-JFCA collusion to prevent genuine worker 
representation.  In this incident, one of many in a succession 
of labor problems at these plants, the national leadership of 
the Ford CTM union intervened the local after an unsuccessful 
campaign by a rival central to take over.  After negotiating a 
settlement for renewal of the collective bargaining agreement 
with Ford, the national union convened new local elections in 
which new leaders were elected.  On the advice of outside 
advisers, the ousted leaders appealed their removal to the JFCA 
and did not return to work in the plant.  Ford management held 
the ousted leaders' jobs open well beyond the period required 
by the FLL, made repeated offers, and finally demands, that 
they return to work.  When dismissed by Ford, they appealed 
this, too, to the JFCA which found the election in accord with 
union statutes and ruled the former leaders had forfeited 
reemployment rights by not exercising them.

Political rivalries within and between Mexican union 
organizations and leaders in and out of the PRI (as well as 
political factions and parties outside the unions) are often 
noisy, turbulent, and occasionally violent.  For example, the 
national leader of the National Railroad Workers' Union, also a 
PRI deputy in the Nuevo Leon state legislature, was shot to 
death on July 17 in the parking lot of a Mexico City hotel.  
Union sources said he had been threatened days before his 
murder by the leader of a dissident alternative railroad union 
against whom he had preferred charges.  Press reports cited the 
Attorney General's office as saying witnesses identified one of 
the dissidents as the murderer.

Former Tabasco state Government Employee Union head and 
indigenous political leader Aquiles Magana, a PRI member who 
had supported the 1988 presidential campaign of the PRD's 
Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, was arrested in 1990 while leading a 
municipal workers demonstration demanding payment of an 
agreed-upon pay raise.  Convicted of assault and battery in 
late 1992, Tabasco's governor pardoned him on May 7, following 
a well-publicized 48-day hunger strike and opposition rallies 
in Mexico City on his behalf.

In September a 39-member group mostly comprised of U.S. and 
Canadian members of the International Association of Machinists 
and Aerospace Workers (IAM) appeared unannounced outside an 
American-owned in-bond export plant in Tijuana, at which a 
dissident group of workers, in an organizing effort backed by a 
rival PRI-allied labor central, failed earlier (and again 
subsequently) to displace the existing local union affiliated 
to another PRI-allied labor central.  The IAM group parked 
outside the plant where arrangements had been made to talk to 
workers during a shift change.  Plant managers, suspicious of a 
bus of non-Mexicans parked outside the plant, summoned 
immigration authorities who questioned and later escorted the 
IAM group to the border in its bus.  The immigration officials 
told the delegation members their activity was not permitted 
under terms of their tourist status.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The FLL provides for the right to organize and to bargain 
collectively.  On the basis of only a small showing of interest 
by employees, an employer must recognize the union concerned 
and make arrangements either for a union recognition election 
or proceed immediately to negotiate a collective bargaining 
agreement.  Such agreements are commonplace.  Employers 
complain the FLL is too favorable to union organization.  Some 
employers encourage company unionism as the only legal way to 
resist organization by national or local unions affiliated with 
the dominant labor centrals, or by more radical independent 
unions.  Union representation elections are traditionally open, 
and votes are recorded by name.  Management representatives as 
well as competing trade union officials are present with the 
presiding JFCA official when each and every worker votes.

The public sector is almost totally organized.  Public sector 
unions negotiate collective bargaining agreements with their 
agencies.  Their central organization (FSTSE), a powerful and 
influential organization, negotiates to a limited degree on 
proposed changes in pay scales and working conditions with the 
Government as a whole.

Political factional disputes (sometimes between prominent PRI 
politicians, sometimes involving opposition parties or 
dissident groups) on occasion lead to noisy public 
confrontations in which public sector unions or dissident 
elements within them occupy or blockade government offices, 
including those of Cabinet secretaries, or conduct hunger 
strikes.  These sometimes involve violent clashes.  One recent 
dispute involved competing factions in the agricultural and 
water resources secretariat.  Similarly, the Social Security 
Union successfully used press articles and paid advertisements 
to forestall rumored presidential initiatives to privatize or 
reform social security and preserved the employment status quo 
in its collective bargaining agreement.

The state petroleum industry (Pemex) union STPRM was once 
renowned as powerful, corrupt, armed, dangerous, and practically
immune from control under the law, though influential in some 
parts of the PRI.  Early in the Salinas administration, as a 
necessary precondition to market-oriented economic reform and 
downsizing state enterprise, the Government brought the STPRM 
under control, jailing top leaders for their illegal actions, 
while others fled abroad into exile.  In the subsequent 
downsizing of Pemex and privatization of some of its 
petrochemical installations, a large number of workers lost 
jobs and demonstrated for greater, or more rapid, payment of 
severance pay and benefits.  The reformed union is back in the 
good graces of the CTM (to which it belongs), the PRI, and the 
Government.  The reform leader recently retired, and one of the 
former officials who was not arrested or exiled was elected to 
replace him.

The degree of private sector organization varies widely by 
states.  While most traditional industrial areas are heavily 
organized, states with a small industrial base usually have few 
unions.  Workers are protected by law from antiunion 
discrimination, but this law is unevenly enforced, especially 
in states with a low degree of unionization.  Workers in 
industries under federal jurisdiction may appeal to the JFCA or 
labor inspectors, regardless of what state they are in.  
Workers in industries under state jurisdiction may appeal to 
local boards under state jurisdiction, or to state labor 
authorities, but these are also obliged to apply the FLL.  
Employers found guilty of antiunion discrimination are required 
to reinstate workers fired for union activities, though they 
may prefer to buy them off by negotiating large severance pay 

The rate of unionization of in-bond export industries varies by 
area, but is comparatively low.  This is particularly true in 
Baja California, where industrialization began only recently 
and the in-bond exporters have small plants.  Baja California 
is governed by the opposition PAN, close to business interests 
but not to the PRI or to PRI-allied unions.  Some assert the 
relatively good wage and benefit packages of the large in-bond 
export plants reduce the incentives to unionize, but critics 
decry deplorable working conditions and inadequate wages at 
smaller plants and allege state or federal government as well 
as employer efforts to suppress unionization.  In one key state 
(Nuevo Leon), in-bond plants are heavily unionized, mostly by 
apolitical independent unions some term "company unions."  
There was no credible evidence the Federal Government has 
suppressed unionization of the in-bond facilities.  There were, 
however, indications that some state and local government and 
business leaders discouraged unionization, but trade unions 
have not filed any complaints about this with the Federal 

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Constitution prohibits forced labor.  There have been no 
credible reports of forced labor for many years.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The FLL sets 14 as the minimum age for employment by children. 
Children from 14 to 15 may work a maximum of 6 hours, may not 
work overtime or at night, and may not be employed in jobs 
deemed hazardous.  Enforcement is reasonably good at large and 
medium formal sector companies, including export industries and 
especially in sectors under federal jurisdiction.  Enforcement 
is much more difficult and spotty at the many small companies 
and in agriculture, and practically nonexistent in the informal 
sector, despite government efforts.

Illegal child labor is extensive in the informal economy.  
There are significant numbers of underage street vendors, 
employees in very small businesses, and workers in rural 
areas.  The joint 1993 "Report on Child Labor in Mexico and the 
United States" by the U.S. Labor Department and Mexico's STPS 
stated that 43 percent of child labor is in agriculture.  
Estimates of the number of children working vary from 8 to 11 
million (about 31 million Mexicans are under 15). The lower 
estimate is from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) 
and the CTM; the latter an estimate by the Mexican Statistics 
Institute (INEGI) that 34.3 percent of the under-15 population 
are economically active.

Small-scale employers prepared to disregard company 
registration, social security, health, safety, and tax laws are 
often equally prepared to violate child labor laws.  Eighty-five
percent of all registered Mexican companies have 15 or less 
employees, and 80 percent have 5 or less employees, indicating 
the vast scope of the enforcement challenge even within the 
formal economy.

In 1992 the Government increased from 6 to 9 the minimum number 
of years that children must attend school and made parents 
legally liable, for the first time, to ensure their children's 
attendance.  The move was part of a major educational reform 
effort designed to upgrade the skills of the Mexican labor 
force and to discourage child labor.  The Government recognizes 
the need to continue increasing educational opportunities for 
youth and to eradicate child labor, but implementation and 
enforcement, as with the elimination of poverty, will be an 
uphill battle.

The ILO worked with the Government's Social Development 
Secretariat to develop a national action program for the 
eradication of child labor, with the help of UNICEF funding.  A 
preliminary project was drawn up but is awaiting high-level 
approval in the Secretariat.  In addition, the STPS authorized 
an ILO national seminar on the work of minors for August 1993, 
and the ILO, NGO's, and government agencies are stepping up 
seminars, media campaigns, and other educational approaches.  
For example, Mexico City radio stations carry announcements 
admonishing parents on the importance of education to enhance 
their children's future and earning capacity.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The Constitution and the FLL provide for a minimum wage.  It is 
set by the tripartite (government, labor, employers) National 
Minimum Wage Commission (NMWC).  A tripartite accord, renewed 
annually, limits price and wage increases.  Since 1987, wages 
set by collective bargaining agreements and, especially, fringe 
benefits and white-collar salaries in the private sector more 
than kept pace with inflation, recuperating part (wages), most 
(fringe benefits), or virtually all (salaries) of the real 
purchasing power lost since 1982.  The minimum wage continued 
to decline in real terms to a level woefully inadequate in 1991 
to provide a living for a worker and family.  In May President 
Salinas announced he would encourage the NMWC to begin to take 
productivity increases into account in adjusting the minimum 
wage, and he made this a formal commitment in August 1993 when 
the NAFTA supplemental agreements were announced.  Labor 
Secretariat officials indicate this will begin a gradual 
increase in the real minimum wage over the next several years 
similar to that in real average wages over the last 5 years.

The 1993 minimum wage was $4.60 (14.27 new pesos) per day for 
the most advanced areas (Mexico City, Acapulco, Baja 
California, and certain municipalities of Chihuahua, state of 
Mexico, Sonora, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz).  It was slightly 
less, $4.28 (NP 13.26) per day, for intermediate areas 
(Guadalajara and some municipalities of Jalisco, Monterrey and 
some municipalities of Nuevo Leon, and additional 
municipalities of Sonora, Tamaulipas and Veracruz).  It was 
$3.90 (NP 12.05) per day in the rest of the country.  There 
were special, higher minimum wages for 88 specialized 
occupations, including various construction trades.  The 
announced 1994 minimum daily wage, to be implemented January 1, 
1994, is $5.00 (NP 15.27) for the most advanced areas, $4.58 
(NP 14.19) for the intermediate areas, and $4.16 (NP 12.89) in 
the poorer parts of the country.  The higher rates for 88 
specialized occupations remain in effect.  All these rates 
reflect a 7-percent increase from 1993 (5 percent for expected 
inflation and 2 percent representing the average increase in 
productivity over the past 3 years).

Social security data indicate that less than 16 percent of 
Mexico's workers earn the minimum wage.  Legislation retroactive
to October 1 established a negative income tax (or devolution) 
of 7.5 to 10.8 percent for workers earning the minimum wage.  
This devolution will be paid with each paycheck by employers, 
who may subtract the amount from any taxes owed the Federal 
Government.  Combined with the minimum wage increase, minimum 
wage earners will receive an increase in their incomes of 14.5 
to 17.8 percent from 1993 to 1994.  The same legislation 
eliminated income taxes on those earning up to two times the 
minimum wage and reduced them for those earning less than four 
times the minimum.  These changes implemented provisions of the 
October 3 tripartite stability, competitiveness, and employment 
pact (PECE), in which employers and workers also agreed to 
negotiate schemes to improve quality and productivity and to 
devise incentives or bonuses to give workers immediately a fair 
share of the earnings derived from these improvements.

The FLL sets 48 hours as the standard legal workweek.  The FLL 
provides that workers who are asked to exceed 3 hours of 
overtime per day or work any overtime on 3 consecutive days 
must be paid triple the normal wage.  For most industrial 
workers, especially unionized ones, the real workweek has 
declined to about 42 hours, although they are paid for a full 
48 hours.  (This is why unions zealously defend the legal ban 
on hourly wages in favor of daily wages.)

Mexico's legislation and rules regarding employee health and 
safety are relatively advanced.  All employers are bound by law 
to observe the General Regulations on Safety and Health in the 
Workplace issued jointly by the STPS and the Mexican Institute 
of Social Security (IMSS).  In addition, in late 1991 the 
in-bond export associations in northern border states agreed to 
cooperate in a special program with STPS and IMSS health and 
safety experts to help their member companies overcome any 
deficiencies in their compliance.  This program has made 
progress and is effective.

The focal point for standard setting and enforcement in the 
workplace is in FLL-mandated bipartite (management and labor) 
safety and health committees in the plants and offices of every 
company.  These meet at least monthly to consider workplace 
safety and health needs and file copies of their minutes with 
federal or state labor inspectors.  Government labor inspectors 
schedule their own activities largely in response to the 
findings of these workplace committees.  Individual employees 
may also complain directly to the office of labor inspection or 
the general directorate of medicine and safety in the 
workplace.  Workers may remove themselves from hazardous 
situations without jeopardizing their employment.  Complaints 
may be brought before the JFCA at no cost to the plaintiff.  
Mexican labor and social security officials report compliance 
is reasonably good at most large companies, both foreign-owned 
and domestic.  Most compliance difficulties occur with small 
businesses, few of which export any goods or services.  
Compliance and enforcement is practically nonexistent in the 
informal sector.

[end of document]


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