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TITLE:  MEXICO HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE:  FEBRUARY 1995









                             MEXICO


The United Mexican States is a federal republic with a President
elected to a 6-year term, a bicameral Congress, and a 
constitutionally mandated independent judicial branch.  The 
Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has won every 
presidential election in the last 65 years, many of which 
involved credible allegations of fraudulent practices.  
However, the August 21 elections and the January 1 uprising in 
Chiapas were unparalleled events for human rights in Mexico.  
Both highlighted progress and underscored issues still needing 
to be addressed in human rights practices.

In Chiapas the Government initially reacted with force, but in 
a significant departure from historical practice, it soon 
adopted a plan which rejected a military solution to end the 
insurrection of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation 
(EZLN).  With intense domestic and international media 
attention focussed on Chiapas, the Government declared a 
unilateral cease-fire 2 weeks after hostilities began, and 
undertook face-to-face peace talks with the rebels in 
February.  The military perpetrated many human rights abuses 
during the earliest phase of the conflict, and, as of year's 
end, authorities had prosecuted no one for those abuses.  The 
talks broke off in mid-May; the Government, however, continued 
its offer to reestablish a dialog with the EZLN.  At year's 
end, hostilities had not resumed.  President Ernesto Zedillo, 
who took office on December 1, renewed the call for negotiations
and accepted a mediation role for the National Mediation 
Commission (CONAI).  Direct talks resumed on January 15, 1995.

The August 21 elections were a significant step forward for 
Mexico's democratic process.  35.5 million people--nearly 78 
percent of registered voters--cast ballots in the August 21 
elections.  Despite widespread irregularities and the ruling 
PRI's ability to benefit from government resources and 
privileged access to the news media, numerous independent 
observer groups, including the highly critical nongovernmental 
umbrella group Civic Alliance and a joint delegation from the 
National Democratic Institute, the International Republican 
Institute, and the Carter Center, determined that these factors 
did not alter the outcome.  The elections featured several 
innovations in the electoral system, including participation of 
more than 80,000 accredited domestic observers, government-
invited foreign witnesses, and electoral organs under the 
control of nonpartisan, civilian directors.

Mexican security forces, including the military, the federal 
and state judicial police, federal highway police, and local 
police are under the control of elected civilian officials.  
However, the security forces, especially the police, continued 
to commit human rights abuses.

Although economic reforms succeeded in reducing inflation and 
restructuring the economy, a currency devaluation and financial 
liquidity crisis at year's end will likely have a sharply 
negative impact on economic performance in 1995, including a 
fall in real wages.  Serious income disparities and areas of 
severe poverty remain.  The North American Free Trade Agreement 
(NAFTA) between the United States, Canada, and Mexico went into 
effect at the beginning of the year.

Major human rights abuses included the violence and killings in 
Chiapas, as well as extrajudicial killings by the police, 
torture, and illegal arrests.  Other abuses include glaring 
prison deficiencies, discrimination and violence against women, 
and extensive illegal child labor in the informal economy.  The 
Government attempted 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 
of state-level commissions for human rights.  By year's end, 
however, it had tried and punished few human rights abusers, 
and abuses remained widespread.

Fulfilling his pledges to implement political and judicial 
reforms, President Zedillo appointed a respected member of the 
opposition National Action Party (PAN), Antonio Lozano, as 
Attorney General with a mandate to implement reforms in law 
enforcement.  Zedillo also succeeded in enacting a package of 
judicial reforms designed to improve the performance and 
accountability of the Attorney General's office and the Supreme 
Court.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

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

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killings

A number of political activists were killed in 1994, but a 
political motive was not clearly established in any of these 
killings.  A lone gunman murdered Luis Donaldo Colosio, the 
ruling PRI's presidential candidate, at a political rally in 
Tijuana in March.  The authorities arrested, tried, and 
convicted the gunman of murder at a trial held in a federal 
prison, out of public view.  The public prosecutor, Miguel 
Montes, at one point declared that the murder was the result of 
a conspiracy.  He later recanted this statement and 
subsequently resigned.

In September a gunman shot and killed Jose Francisco Ruiz 
Massieu, the Secretary General of the PRI, on a Mexico City 
street.  The police arrested and detained a suspect who was 
jailed pending trial, along with several co-conspirators.  
However, Manuel Munoz Rocha, a PRI legislator and suspected 
intellectual author of the killing, was still at large at 
year's end.  Deputy Attorney General Mario Ruiz Massieu, the 
victim's brother, resigned his post in November, charging that 
PRI and government officials obstructed his investigation.  The 
Attorney General's investigation into these charges did not 
find the evidence sufficient for subsequent prosecution.

President Zedillo, saying that the Mexican people were not 
satisfied with the results of the Government's inquiries into 
the Colosio and Ruiz Massieu killings, or the 1993 murder of 
Guadalajara's Cardinal Posadas, instructed Attorney General 
Lozano to intensify efforts to resolve these crimes.  In 
December Lozano appointed a special prosecutor to look into all 
three murders.

The leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), and to a 
lesser extent other opposition parties, asserted that there 
were political killings associated with the 1994 election 
campaign.  In July an unidentified car struck and killed a PRD 
campaign organizer while he was jogging, and fled the scene.  
In August unidentified gunmen killed another PRD activist in 
Tapachula, Chiapas.  In a possible assassination attempt, the 
PRD's candidate for the governorship of Chiapas suffered severe 
injury in August when a trailer truck collided with his minivan.
The candidate has fully recovered, but two other PRD officials 
died in the incident, and two more suffered serious injury.  
The Attorney General's Office has not determined whether the 
incident was an accident or an assassination attempt.

The PRD claims that, in the past 6 years, 275 party activists or
members were the victims of political violence which, in some 
cases, resulted in death.  By mutual agreement with the PRD, 
the CNDH dismissed 135 claims as unsubstantiated and proceeded 
to investigate 140 claims.  These included 90 involving the 
murder of 115 persons, and 17 involving serious injury.  The 
CNDH investigation found violations of human rights by 
Government authorities in 67, or 47.8 percent, of the 140 
cases.  The CNDH findings included recommendations on 
redressing abuses.  At year's end, the authorities had fully 
implemented 18 recommendations and partially implemented the 
remaining 49.

Police and vigilantes acting on behalf of local landowners 
continued to commit extrajudicial killings while dislodging 
peasant squatters from rural lands in several states.  The 
Government's response to squatter issues, including these 
killings, has varied from state to state.  To expand communal 
land holdings, peasants for decades have invaded private lands 
and petitioned for government recognition of the seizures.  
With recent constitutional agrarian reforms, the Government 
ceased distributing new lands to "ejidos" (government-owned 
communes); the invasions continue nonetheless.

Police and vigilantes raided the Plan del Encinal community in 
Ixhuatlan de Madero, Veracruz state, on September 8, forcibly 
evicting residents and taking two community leaders into 
custody.  The mutilated bodies of the two were found in a 
nearby river bearing numerous close-range gunshot wounds to the 
head and chest.  The Veracruz state human rights commission and 
the Attorney General's office are investigating the case.  
Veracruz state officials blocked an attempt by a team of 
forensic experts and nongovernmental organizations (NGO's) to 
conduct autopsies on the victims.  The NGO's have appealed to 
federal authorities for assistance.

In January while searching for a suspect involved in another 
incident, the police allegedly shot and killed two farmers in 
Jalisco state. The authorities arrested the six police officers 
involved, pending further investigation.

Proceedings continued against a local police officer accused of 
beating U.S. citizen Mario Amado to death in a Baja California 
jail in 1992.

The Mexican military has not yet made public the resolution of 
charges against 16 soldiers in the June 1993 killing of 5 
suspected narcotics traffickers in Chihuahua.

Mexico is one of the countries cited by Amnesty International 
where gays and lesbians are most likely to be victims of abuse 
and violence.  At least 12 homosexuals and 9 male prostitutes 
have been killed in Tuxtla Gutierrez since 1991.  Gay rights 
advocates charged that police made little effort to solve these 
murders.  An independent prosecutor was appointed in April, but 
authorities have not provided the prosecutor with adequate 
resources to carry out full investigations.

     b.  Disappearance

There were no confirmed reports of politically motivated 
disappearances in 1994.

The CNDH's annual report contained 461 cases of missing persons 
in the Chiapas conflict alone, of whom 432 had been located by 
May.  As of year's end, the CNDH believed no more than 10 
persons were still missing, but due to large movements of 
people caused by the conflict, it was difficult to locate the 
remaining persons.

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

Torture continues to be a serious human rights problem, 
although the CNDH reported a 40-percent decline in torture 
complaints over the previous year.  The CNDH has noted that 
8 out of 32 jurisdictions (31 states and the Federal District) 
still do not have specific laws to prevent or punish torture.  
Poorly trained and equipped to investigate crimes, police 
officers continued to attempt to solve crimes by rounding up 
likely suspects and then exacting confession from them.  
Photographs of detainees with black-eyed, swollen faces still 
appear in the local press.  Even high-profile suspect Mario 
Aburto, the accused gunman in presidential candidate Luis 
Donaldo Colosio's assassination, claimed that police beat him; 
press photos and reports shortly after his arrest lend credence 
to his claims.  CNDH representatives were present during his 
subsequent interrogations.

The authorities punish few officials for torture, which 
continues to occur mainly because confessions are the primary 
evidence in many criminal convictions.  The CNDH reported that 
in the period from May 1993 to April 1994, the authorities 
brought 53 cases against officials for the crime of torture; in 
13 cases they declined to execute the arrest warrant, and 
judges denied or canceled the arrest order in another 25 
cases.  By law the defendant must prove that a confession was 
forced; but even a forced confession is not automatically 
excluded from evidence.  Many victims do not report, or do not 
follow through on, their complaints against the police for fear 
of reprisals.

Three young indigenous women charged that 10 soldiers beat and 
raped them at a military checkpoint in Chiapas on June 4.  The 
military immediately denied the accusation, but brought seven 
soldiers before a military court that is investigating the 
matter.  The law does not require civil trial of soldiers 
involved in civil crimes, and the military continues to handle 
the case.  The CNDH and some human rights advocates agree that 
the law gives the military jurisdiction over this case.

On November 16, various peasant organizations comprised of 
Ch'ol and Tzeltal Indians organized a demonstration in the main 
square of Palenque, Chiapas, in connection with a local land 
dispute.  An armed group that reportedly included ranchers, 
local businessmen, and the Palenque municipal police forced the 
peasants from the square.  The police and vigilantes fired tear 
gas at the demonstrators, burned their possessions, and 
transported some of them out of town in trucks.  State 
government officials arrived later the same day and attempted 
to establish a dialog between the two sides.  CNDH 
investigators arrived on November 18.  Although the CNDH 
received no complaints or reports of any missing persons, 
Amnesty International reported that approximately 70 persons 
disappeared.  The captors released all the detainees after 
holding them for a month and after beating all of them severely.

On November 20, demonstrations and violence in Comitan, 
Chiapas, resulted in police tear-gassing demonstrators and the 
kidnaping of a municipal police officer by protesters.  Again, 
the CNDH did not receive any missing person complaints, but 
Amnesty International reported that unidentified forces 
abducted 10 persons and held them approximately a month as 
well, and then released them after being them.  In both of 
these incidents in Chiapas, no authorities brought any charges 
of wrongdoing against either side, nor did any officials other 
than CNDH initiate any investigation.  The CNDH continued to 
investigate these matters.

In 1989 an elite group of antinarcotics police was responsible 
for the kidnaping and rape of at least 19 women in Mexico City.
Courts had sentenced only four of the dozen accused officers to 
prison at the end of 1993.  The authorities released the 
remaining 8 officers after victims could not identify them.

In some cases police officers whom one state dismissed find law 
enforcement employment in another.  The CNDH discovered that 
even when the authorities censured some officers in one law 
enforcement job, they moved on to other positions and were 
subsequently charged again with human rights abuses.  In an 
effort to remedy this situation, the CNDH publishes lists of 
censured public servants in its annual report and monthly 
newsletters.

Many prisons are staffed by undertrained and corrupt guards, 
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.  Prisoners complain that they must purchase 
food, medicine, and other necessities from guards or bribe 
guards to allow the goods to be brought in from outside.  Drug 
and alcohol use is rampant in prisons.  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 the authorities prosecuted a few prison 
officials for abusing prisoners, it was more common to dismiss 
them or to charge them with only minor offenses.  In response 
to these problems, the CNDH launched a nationwide campaign to 
improve prison conditions.  Federal and state governments have 
begun to provide funding for the construction of modern 
installations and to improve existing facilities.

Some prisons, contrary to law, do not separate male and female 
populations.  In at least one prison, the authorities allowed 
male trusties access to women's cells, also a violation of the 
law.  At this prison, officials sometimes encouraged women to 
form sexual liaisons with male prisoners and guards, as such 
relationships, according to a state prison official, enhanced 
the facility's peace and safety.  In some cases, officials 
coerced women into sexual relationships.  The CNDH has 20 
investigators dedicated to women's issues and has a program to 
inspect prisons (it has visited 502 jails) and investigate 
prisoner complaints.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Arbitrary arrest and detention continued to be among the most 
common human rights abuses.  The authorities arbitrarily 
imprisoned 21 persons at the Cerro Hueco prison in March.  Only 
when the prisoners began a hunger strike to call attention to 
their plight did the CNDH intervene.  In the third week of the 
strike, the authorities acknowledged that they had no grounds 
for continuing the imprisonment, and released them.

A study by the National Indigenous Institute (INI) found that 
courts had not yet sentenced 70 percent of indigenous 
prisoners, half of whom the authorities held in pretrial 
detention for longer than allowed by law.  Over the past 
5 years, the INI was able to have 8,000 indigenous prisoners 
released from jails, but with new entrants the current 
indigenous prison population stands at 5,400.  The INI has 
succeeded in convincing federal prosecutors to drop charges 
against first-time offenders accused of drug cultivation, 
arguing that indigenous defendants are often forced by drug 
traffickers to grow the crops and do not understand the legal 
significance of their actions.

Many detainees report that officials ask them to pay bribes for 
release before formal arraignment; many of those arrested 
report that they are able to bribe officials to have them drop 
charges before they go before a judge.  Corruption is rampant 
throughout the system.  Some wealthy drug traffickers have 
avoided arrests or jail sentences by paying off police officers 
and judges.  In July police officers detained a U.S. citizen 
and his son and drove them around Mexico City for several 
hours.  The officers released them after they handed over their 
cash and valuables, warning them not to report the incident as 
the officers knew where the two lived.

The Constitution provides that the authorities must present 
anyone detained before a judge within 72 hours and must try the 
person within 4 months if the alleged crime carries a sentence 
of less than 2 years, or within 1 year if the crime carries a 
longer sentence.  The law requires prisoners awaiting trial to 
be housed separately from those convicted.  In practice, these 
time limits are frequently ignored.  According to the CNDH and 
NGO's, the authorities often held criminal defendants with 
convicted prisoners, and for longer than allowed by law before 
going to trial.

To address these problems, the Government established the CNDH 
in 1990.  The overall number of complaints filed with the CNDH 
increased by 16 percent in 1994, with 6,574 complaints filed 
from January to August.  Its recommendations have resulted in 
the sanctioning of 1,484 public servants, the vast majority 
members of public security forces.  During the 12-month period 
from May 1993 to May 1994, CNDH efforts resulted in sanctions 
against 539 public servants, as follows:  119 penal actions; 54 
dismissals; 35 declared incompetent for public service; 86 
suspensions; 56 reprimands or warnings; 1 arrest; 1 fine; and 
190 investigations pending.  The CNDH publishes the names of 
all sanctioned public servants.  In some cases, authorities 
applied multiple sanctions, but CNDH statistics list cases 
under the most severe sanction applied.  In Chiapas, the 
Attorney General's office announced the dismissal of 60 percent 
of all state police officers (510 of 850 agents) for crimes 
while in uniform or when working as police without proper 
registration.

The law does not permit exile, and it is not practiced.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

Trial in the Mexican judicial system, which is based on the 
Napoleonic Code, is a series of fact-gathering hearings at 
which the court receives documentary evidence or testimony.  In 
addition officials may add notarized documents to the official 
case file without authentication.  While these hearings must by 
law be open to the public, in practice the courts do not admit 
the public.  Journalists covering a judicial proceeding rely on 
the statements of attorneys outside the courtroom as to what 
occurred inside.  A judge alone in chambers reviews the case 
file and makes a final written ruling based thereon.  The 
record of the proceeding is not available to the public; only 
the parties and, by special motion, the victim, may have access 
to the official file.

In his first month in office, President Zedillo moved a package 
of judicial reforms aimed at improving the performance of the 
Mexican Supreme Court through the Congress and the 20 state 
legislatures needed to amend the Constitution.  These reforms 
included Senate confirmation of Supreme Court justices and 
relieving the Court of administrative duties.

While there is a constitutional right to an attorney at all 
stages of criminal proceedings, in practice many poor 
defendants are not adequately represented.  Attorneys are not 
always available during the questioning of defendants; in some 
instances a defense attorney will attempt to represent several 
clients simultaneously by entering different rooms to certify 
that he was present although he did not actually attend the 
full proceedings.  In the case of indigenous defendants, many 
of whom do not speak Spanish, the situation is often worse.  
The courts do not routinely furnish translators for them at all 
stages of criminal proceedings, and thus defendants may be 
unaware of the status of their case.

Some human rights groups claim that activists arrested in 
connection with land disputes and other civil disobedience 
activities are in fact political prisoners.  The Government 
asserts that those charged in the sometimes violent land 
invasions are fairly prosecuted for common crimes, such as 
homicide and damage to property.

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

The Constitution protects the rights to privacy, family, home, 
and correspondence.  The law requires search warrants, but 
there were credible claims that unlawful searches without 
warrants are common.  There were no known claims of forced 
political membership and no substantiated claims of 
surveillance or interference with correspondence.

     g.  Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian 
         Law in Internal Conflicts

The Chiapas uprising prompted many claims of human rights 
abuses.  The CNDH issued an interim report in May finding that 
there was reason to believe that the military had injured or 
killed civilians in aerial attacks, and that there were summary 
executions, illegal detentions, and torture.  The military 
denied any responsibility, and no military personnel or 
government officials have been sanctioned.  The CNDH has not 
yet issued its final report on Chiapas.

On January 4, army fixed-wing aircraft fired rockets and 
machine guns into villages around San Cristobal de las Casas, 
killing and injuring several noncombatant residents.  Army 
personnel on the ground, untrained in managing close air 
support, made inaccurate target identification and contributed 
to the civilian casualties.  The aircraft also fired on clearly 
identified journalists in the area who were displaying a white 
flag.

One of the first photographs to come out of the conflict was a 
picture of five men apparently bound at the wrists and shot 
point blank in the head.  The five were lying in a bloody pool 
on the floor of the market in the town of Ocosingo, some 
wearing what appeared to be EZLN uniforms--green pants and 
brown shirts.  The federal Attorney General's Office determined 
in April that someone had indeed executed the five, but it 
exonerated the army, finding that the army was not in the 
market at the time of death.  National and international human 
rights organizations widely criticized the PGR report, which 
disregarded evidence that the investigators could not have 
accurately fixed the time of death and that army elements 
indeed were in the market on the day the five died.  Also in 
Ocosingo, the authorities later determined that 11 bodies found 
in paupers' graves after the fighting ended included 
noncombatant hospital patients and visitors; some witnesses 
said the army gunned them down.  Again, the military denied any 
involvement; the PGR investigated the case but has yet to 
charge anyone.

In Morelia residents reported that the military entered a 
communal farm of 100 families on January 7, forcing the men to 
lie face down in the village square while they led some away 
for questioning and beatings.  Witnesses said they saw a 
military ambulance take away the bodies of three men, two of 
them in their sixties.  Residents discovered the remains of the 
three on the outskirts of the community on February 10.  The 
army denied any responsibility, claiming that the remains were 
not human and that no military troops were in Morelia on 
January 7.  The army admitted, however, that troops were there 
on January 6.  U.S. pathologists confirmed the identity of the 
remains, but the Government did not file charges and closed the 
case.

There were also complaints that the EZLN committed human rights 
abuses.  The CNDH declined to investigate the charges, since 
the EZLN is not a government entity.  The EZLN kidnaped and 
held for 2 months a former governor of Chiapas, releasing him 
after a "people's tribunal" found him guilty of crimes against 
the people.  At times the EZLN collected "war taxes" at road 
blocks in the areas it controlled and confiscated the private 
property and livestock of ranchers.  The EZLN announced in 
October that it would welcome an investigation by NGO's into 
allegations that it had committed human rights abuses against 
civilians.  The EZLN also said it was opening an office to 
train its soldiers and to receive complaints of human rights 
abuses.

Some large landowners in Chiapas established private militias 
to defend their property from peasant land invasions.  Local 
authorities have not impeded establishment of these militias, 
which often employ police and military personnel.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and the press.  
Since 1990, reforms and internal changes have made the media 
more professional, freer of the Government and more 
competitive.  The Government relinquished its control over 
newsprint, banned the practice of overtly paying for favorable 
news coverage, and ceased to pay for journalists' travel 
expenses during trips.

There remained significant restrictions on these freedoms.  The 
Government used its control of a significant advertising 
budget, and its ability to reward favored journalists by 
providing them access to officials, to discourage unfavorable 
reports.  There continued to be some self-censorship by the 
media.  The Government controls broadcast license renewals, and 
some have charged that the Government delayed renewing licenses 
for stations that are critical of the Government or the PRI.  
On at least four occasions, radio station owners preempted any 
possible problems with license renewals by firing employees who 
had broadcast critical stories.  Journalists are also reluctant 
to undermine their access to government officials by 
criticizing them too freely.  Many media outlets depend heavily 
on government advertising and do not wish to prejudice such 
income.

The media have also changed internally.  Some new daily 
newspapers and magazines are demanding higher education levels 
from their reporters and paying them accordingly.  Some print 
media are also implementing strict accounting procedures, 
making the acceptance of bribes more difficult.  The electronic 
media are lagging behind their print competitors in the 
emphasis on training.

To a surprising degree, both print and electronic media 
provided full coverage of the Chiapas uprising.  For example, a 
cable television network broadcast a lengthy interview of EZLN 
leader Subcomandante Marcos.  A provincial radio station 
broadcast the peace talks between the EZLN and the government 
team live, despite government admonitions that it not do so.  
The EZLN also sought to control coverage of the talks, and 
barred two television networks--one Mexican and one 
American--from its press conferences, claiming the networks 
were biased in favor of the Government.

The August election gave journalists an opportunity to 
demonstrate independence.  Although only approximately 
10 percent of the population regularly reads a newspaper (or 
perhaps because of this) the move away from the traditional 
pro-PRI party line was more notable in the print media.  
Several independent studies found that the two primary 
opposition candidates for president received substantially more 
coverage during the 1994 campaign than during any other 
previous election.  Still, the amount of coverage of the ruling 
party candidate greatly exceeded that of the opposition, and 
its tone was more favorable.  Studies of radio and television 
election coverage, which was justly criticized in the past as 
inequitable, found that electronic media coverage of the 
opposition also increased this year, although less dramatically 
than that of the print media.  The coverage afforded the ruling 
party candidate was generally favorable; coverage of the 
opposition was far more negative.

On election day, the main cable television company (controlled 
by Televisa, the country's largest broadcaster and consistently 
accused of progovernment bias) blacked out foreign programming 
until all polling places were closed.  The electronic media 
made some efforts to balance coverage.  For example, Televisa 
gave equal amounts of free air and production time to all the 
presidential candidates near the end of the campaign period.

Violence against journalists continued.  Assailants killed 
three reporters in the state of Morelos; all were severe 
critics of the departing state administration at the time of 
their deaths.  Government authorities are investigating these 
cases, and the CNDH is also pursuing one.  In 1990 the CNDH 
initiated a limited program to investigate complaints of human 
rights abuses by government officials against journalists; in 
1994 the CNDH made it permanent.  The program, consisting of 
three phases to date, involved a total of 100 cases through 
September 28.  The complaints involved abuses that ranged from 
unlawful termination of employment to murder.  The CNDH 
concluded all but four cases in the three phases of the program 
(many on administrative grounds).  It resolved 9 cases to the 
satisfaction of the affected journalist; 21 others resulted in 
punishment of government officials for illegal acts, and the 
CNDH recommended that the Government take further action 
against the accused official in 16 cases.  The CNDH 
discontinued 25 cases because victims did not pursue their 
allegations.

There continued to be incidents of outright intimidation.  For 
example, armed intruders invaded and ransacked the offices of 
the Roman Catholic Diocese in Ciudad Juarez in August.  Because 
they took only a small amount of cash but left other valuables, 
it did not appear that the motive was robbery.  The event 
followed a meeting at which the Bishop had pressured the 
Attorney General to pursue the case of murdered Archbishop 
Posadas more rigorously.

In late January, the curator of a Matamoros museum gave 
organizers of a photographic display portraying the conflict in 
Chiapas 1 hour's notice to remove the display after the 
commander of the Plaza Guard in Matamoros, Brig. Gen. Gonzalez 
Garcia Silva, intimated his displeasure at the exhibit.  The 
curator claimed that the expulsion was necessary in order to 
conduct a previously scheduled fumigation, but the short notice 
and the coincidence with the General's visit indicate otherwise.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

Citizens have a constitutional right to assembly and 
association which they freely and frequently exercise.  The 
only requirement for holding demonstrations is that groups 
wishing to meet in public areas must inform local police 
authorities.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The Constitution provides for the right to practice the 
religion of one's choice, and the authorities generally 
respected this right.  (However, see Section 5 concerning 
religious discrimination.)  Mexican law bars clergy from 
holding public office and from advocating partisan political 
positions.

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

The Government does not generally restrict movement into, out 
of, or within the country.  However, military checkpoints 
remained in place throughout the year in areas around EZLN 
strongholds (see Section 1.g.).  At the beginning of the year, 
the military at these checkpoints sometimes harassed volunteers 
with relief caravans carrying food and medicine to EZLN-held 
territory; the situation later improved somewhat.  Similarly, 
the military delayed several U.S. citizens working with human 
rights groups at the checkpoints.

The Government admitted 45,000 Guatemalan refugees fleeing from 
the civil war in that country and, as the Guatemalan conflict 
subsides, is steadily repatriating them.  In 1994 Mexico agreed 
to accept Cuban refugees for the first time; only Cubans who 
have relatives in Mexico able to support them, however, are 
eligible.  The Cubans would not be issued work permits.  The 
authorities generally do not inform asylum seekers at the 
borders of their right to apply for asylum; the United Nations 
High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that the authorities 
expel about 100,000 aliens annually for illegally entering the 
country.

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 PRI dominates 
Mexican politics and has controlled the Government since the 
party was founded in 1929.  It has 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, in the past, electoral fraud.

Mexico held nationwide federal elections on August 21, as well 
as state and local contests in seven states.  Voters elected 
the PRI candidate, Ernesto Zedillo, with approximately 
50 percent of the vote.  Diego Fernandez de Cevallo, the 
candidate of the right-of-center National Action Party, came in 
second with almost 26 percent of the vote, while Cuauhtemoc 
Cardenas of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution 
obtained 16 percent.  The PRI holds 95 of a total of 128 Senate 
seats and 300 seats in the 500-member Chamber of Deputies.  
Opposition parties increased their seats from 3 to 33 in the 
Senate and from 180 to 198 in the Chamber of Deputies.  Two 
seats remained unfilled due to legal challenges to election 
results.

The elections were generally peaceful and orderly.  The 
Government spent hundreds of millions of dollars funding the 
operations of the quasi-independent Federal Electoral Institute 
(IFE), whose governing council was placed under the control of 
nonpartisan, civilian directors.  The IFE oversaw the 
compilation of a new voter registration list and distribution 
of more than 40 million new voter identification cards.  The 
IFE trained hundreds of thousands of polling officials, all 
chosen by lottery, and, working with the election assistance 
unit of the United Nations, helped prepare the more than 80,000 
independent election observers, most of them affiliated with 
NGO's and civic and labor organizations.

Some domestic observer groups, Mexican media outlets, and major 
political parties conducted "quick count" operations which 
confirmed the official results.  Some international observers, 
including the National Democratic Institute and the 
International Republican Institute, praised the Government and 
the IFE for the handling of the elections, but also pointed out 
numerous irregularities.  They criticized the progovernment 
bias in the media and the use of government resources in 
support of the ruling party.  The PRD and some NGO's claimed 
that the Government and the PRI perpetrated widespread fraud, 
including stuffing ballot boxes and multiple votes.  These 
groups, however, have yet to substantiate their claims.  
Election courts overturned results in a handful of 
congressional and mayoral races because of irregularities or 
fraud.  In cases where electoral courts determine fraud, they 
void the results of the voting stations in question and 
determine the outcome according to the returns from other 
stations in the district.

A severe failure in the electoral process was the lack of any 
meaningful prosecution of those accused of electoral crimes.  
The Government appointed a special prosecutor for electoral 
crimes, but the prosecutor was slow in dealing with some 400 
complaints, including dozens accusing state governors and other 
officials of using government resources to support candidates.  
The special prosecutor brought charges only against a grammar 
school principal and one candidate for requiring parents to 
attend the candidate's campaign rally in order to retrieve 
children's report cards.  Even in this case, a local judge 
canceled the arrest warrants, and the principal and the 
candidate face no criminal proceedings.

On the other hand, newly appointed Attorney General Lozano has 
asked the Chamber of Deputies to strip congressional immunity 
from two PRI Federal Deputies so that the special prosecutor 
for electoral crimes may prosecute them for electoral 
offenses.  This is the first time an Attorney General has made 
such a request in connection with electoral crimes.

One of the continuing major obstacles to election reform is the 
deeply entrenched antidemocratic tradition of unchecked power 
exercised by local bosses ("caciques") over peasants in rural 
areas.  These bosses often exercise control over virtually 
every aspect of peasants' lives, including how they vote.  One 
NGO that studied the results of the August 21 elections in a 
remote district found that there were 30 percent more votes for 
the PRI in polling places where no independent observers were 
present.

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

Although the CNDH is the official human rights ombudsman of the 
Government, it is nominally independent of government control.  
It has been very vocal and active in many cases, but 
ineffectual in others, most notably the problems in Chiapas.  
NGO representatives charge that in addition to the obvious 
problem of lack of any enforcement authority, the CNDH lacks 
autonomy and has become too large and bureaucratic.  They also 
criticize the state commissions for being ineffectual.  In the 
Chiatas conflict, NGO's contended that PGR and CNDH activities 
were frequently inadequate and even negligent, and that the PGR 
in particular was more interested in protecting the army's 
reputation than in conducting independent and thorough 
investigations of alleged military abuses.

In the wake of the Chiapas uprising, numerous international 
NGO's visited Mexico to investigate allegations of human rights 
violations.  While some of these organizations complained about 
government limits placed on access to conflict areas, the 
situation steadily improved.  In April one Mexican NGO 
complained that the military Attorney General's office had 
asked it to answer questions regarding the factual basis for 
the group's assertions regarding a human rights case against 
the army.  It also asked for details on the group's activities 
in Chiapas and when the organization intended to leave the 
state.

Upon publication of the CNDH annual report in June, the 
Commission's president highlighted the problems of government 
inaction on more than half the Commission's recommendations, of 
state governors not supporting state commissions, and "severe 
financial problems."  In particular, the CNDH cited 103 
recommendations which authorities had been "negligent" in 
implementing.  Then President Salinas publicly called for 
implementation.  By the end of July, the CNDH reported that 
enough progress had been made in 70 of the 103 recommendations 
(20 by full implementation) that it no longer considered the 
authorities as negligent.

In July military authorities prevented 20 members of an 
international human rights delegation from traveling to the 
Chiapas community of Morelia.  An immigration official at the 
scene stated that his superiors had declared the community 
off-limits to foreigners.

The National Network of Civil Organizations for Human Rights 
reported 86 incidents of harassment of human rights advocates 
from April to July, including 10 detentions and 20 cases of 
illegal search.  Military forces conducted searches beyond 
their authority, and police conducted searches without 
warrants.  The report specifically implicated authorities in 
many, but not all, of the 86 cases.  Many NGO's working on 
campaign reform issues reported receiving death threats.

Defense Minister Antonio Riviello imprisoned Gen. Jose 
Francisco Gallardo Rodriguez in November 1993 on a range of 
charges, including embezzlement and dishonoring the military.  
The embezzlement charges, which Gallardo claims were abandoned 
for lack of evidence, date back 5 years.  Gallardo maintains 
that military authorities are persecuting him because of an 
academic dissertation calling for the establishment of a 
military human rights ombudsman's office.  The authorities 
continued to hold Gallardo under extraordinary security.

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

The Constitution states that men and women are equal before the 
law.  It also provides that education should sustain the ideals 
of "fraternity and equal rights of all mankind, avoiding 
privileges of race, sects, groups, sexes, or individuals."

     Women

Although the Constitution provides for equality between the 
sexes, neither the authorities nor society in general respect 
this in practice.  The most serious violation of women's rights 
involves domestic and sexual violence, which is believed to be 
widespread and underreported.  Domestic assault is a crime, but 
in 10 states the "right to correct" wife and children is not a 
crime unless this abuse involves cruelty or unnecessary 
frequency.  Women are reluctant to report abuse or file 
charges, and even when notified, the police are reluctant to 
intervene in what is considered a domestic matter.

The Attorney General's Office operates rape crisis centers 
located in the Federal District and the states of Mexico, 
Queretaro, and Baja California.  Few women, however, avail 
themselves of the centers' services.  In 1993 only 3,400 
approached the Mexico City center; the city has a female 
population of at least 10 million.

The legal treatment of women's rights is uneven.  Women have 
the right to own property in their own names, and to file for 
separation and divorce.  However, in some states a woman may 
not bring suit to establish paternity and thereby obtain child 
support, unless the child was a product of rape or 
cohabitation, the child resides with the father, or there is 
written proof of paternity.

The Labor Code provides that women shall have the same rights 
and the same obligations as men, and that "equal pay shall be 
given for equal work performed in equal posts, hours of work 
and conditions of efficiency."  According to a 1994 CNDH study, 
employers frequently required women to certify that they were 
not pregnant at the time of hiring.

The CNDH study also found that the largest number of complaints 
received involved negligence or abuse during childbirth by 
medical personnel and charges of forced sterilizations.  The 
study noted that most sterilizations occurred in public 
hospitals when the patients were poor, illiterate, and not 
informed of the consequences of the medical procedure.  The 
CNDH recommended that medical administrators train their staff 
to be more aware when dealing with such patients.

     Children

There is no societal pattern of abuse against children, but 
children's advocates report many cases of such abuse.  Children 
under the age of 18 make up 40 percent of the population.  An 
estimated 12,000 live on the streets, many having left or been 
driven from their homes by alcoholic or drug-addicted parents.  
The children themselves often become involved with alcohol, 
drugs, prostitution, and petty thievery.  While the Government 
and NGO's conduct a number of programs for street children, the 
problem is exacerbated by corrupt police who pressure street 
children to commit petty crimes and extort the profits from 
them.  The CNDH has a program for protection of children's 
rights which includes educating children on their rights and 
reviewing legislation to ensure compliance with international 
conventions on children's rights.

     Indigenous People

The indigenous population has long been the object of 
discriminatory treatment, which contributed to the social 
inequities in Chiapas that led to the January rebellion.  That 
uprising focused unprecedented interest on the demands of 
Indians in that state for increased economic and social 
rights.  As peace talks developed, it was clear that the EZLN's 
basic demands included that the Government enact measures to 
protect indigenous cultures, establish self-governing 
autonomous regions in indigenous areas, and provide more 
opportunity for employment in indigenous areas.  Although the 
peace talks stalled, the Government appeared willing to 
consider these demands, not only for the Indians of Chiapas but 
for all of Mexico's indigenous groups.  In December the Zedillo 
administration initiated a program to implement land reform 
laws in Chiapas and targeted tens of thousands of hectares for 
distribution to peasants.

The Government, through the INI and the CNDH, operates programs 
to educate indigenous groups, many of members of which do not 
speak Spanish, about their political and human rights, and it 
generally professes respect for their desire to retain elements 
of their traditional lifestyle.  The CNDH received 137 
complaints from indigenous people.  At year's end, it had 
resolved 73 complaints and 64 were pending.

Some 131 NGO's in Mexico are dedicated to the promotion and 
protection of indigenous rights.  Indigenous people do not live 
on independently governed reservations, although some 
indigenous communities exercise considerable local control over 
economic and social issues.  These communities apply 
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.

The 1992 reforms in agrarian law were expected to promote 
economic development in the countryside, but indigenous groups 
generally perceived the reforms as intended to break up 
indigenous communal landholdings and prevent the groups from 
obtaining title to new lands.  As noted earlier, despite the 
1991 amendment to the Federal law which requires an interpreter 
to be present at every stage of criminal proceedings, the 
courts continued to try and sentence indigenous people without 
the benefit of interpreters.  Knowledge of the Spanish language 
is essential to work outside indigenous areas, and non-Spanish 
speakers are frequently taken advantage of in commercial 
transactions involving bilingual middlemen.

Although the law provides some protections for the indigenous, 
and the Government provides Indian communities support through 
social and economic assistance programs, the legal guarantees 
and social welfare programs are not sufficient to provide the 
Indians the basic support and standards they expect.

     Religious Minorities

In the wake of the Chiapas conflict, several Catholic leaders 
and groups accused of inciting the EZLN armed uprising received 
death threats.  San Cristobal city officials reportedly 
orchestrated an effort in concert with other prominent figures 
to have the Bishop, considered by many observers as sympathetic 
to the EZLN, removed from office and expelled.  In the Chiapas 
town of Altamirano, town leaders and other citizens accused 
Catholic nuns operating a clinic of being EZLN supporters and 
subjected them to intimidation designed to make them leave the 
community.  Military and civil police authorities allegedly 
allowed the intimidation to proceed.  The CNDH is investigating 
both cases.

The Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) complained that the 
Government selectively leaked documents alleging Jesuit ties to 
the Chiapas uprising and other armed movements.  For example, a 
Mexico City daily published what it said was information from 
Mexican intelligence authorities claiming that EZLN leader 
Subcomandante Marcos was a Jesuit priest.  The story was 
quickly proven untrue, but the Attorney General's Office 
declined to prosecute the newspaper for libel.  The Government 
also rejected the Jesuits' request that it issue statements 
correcting this and other media stories linking the order to 
the EZLN.  The Jesuits also complained about unauthorized raids 
on Jesuit facilities in Veracruz, Chiapas, and Guererro.  In 
the Guererro case, 6 heavily armed intruders allegedly broke 
into a retreat house and held priests, lay workers, and 20 
novices hostage while they cut phone lines, ransacked the 
premises, and took away documents.  The local police refused to 
investigate unless the Jesuits could identify the individuals 
who took part in the raids.  The Jesuits also received numerous 
bomb and death threats; in one instance the caller ominously 
alluded to the 1991 mass murder of Jesuits in El Salvador.

In the highlands of Chiapas and other indigenous areas, elected 
officials sometimes acquiesced in or actually ordered the 
expulsions of Protestants belonging primarily to evangelical 
groups.  In many cases the expulsions involved the burning of 
homes and crops, beatings, and, occasionally, killings.  The 
most significant example of religious expulsions occurred in 
San Juan Chamula, Chiapas, where authorities expelled an 
estimated 15,000 evangelicals over the past 20 years.

In August state authorities and the CNDH worked out an 
agreement for about 500 evangelicals to return to San Juan 
Chamula.  An earlier attempt to return to the community at the 
beginning of the year was unsuccessful, as the residents beat 
the returnees and drove them out of town.  The evangelicals 
later retaliated by holding the town mayor hostage; one person 
was killed when the mayor was rescued.  In October a mob 
murdered three evangelical returnees.  The authorities 
immediately arrested four suspects but later released them.  
Both sides are armed, and state officials and human rights 
groups continued to monitor the situation at year's end.

     People with Disabilities

The law requires access for handicapped persons to public 
facilities in Mexico City, but not elsewhere in Mexico.  In 
practice, however, most public buildings and facilities do not 
comply with the law.  Special education programs for people 
with disabilities are not widely available.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The Constitution and Federal Labor Law (FLL) provide workers 
the right to form and join trade unions of their choice.  About 
30 percent of the total work force is organized, which implies 
an effective unionization rate nearly twice that high, since 
only about half the work force is employed in the formal 
private or public sector, accessible to union organization.

No prior approval is needed to form unions, but they must 
register with federal or state labor authorities to obtain 
legal status to function effectively.  Registration 
requirements are not onerous.  There are credible allegations, 
however, that federal or state labor authorities occasionally 
withhold or delay registration of unions hostile to government 
policies, employers, or established unions, or register 
extortionists or labor racketeers falsely claiming to represent 
workers.  To remedy this latter problem, Labor Secretariat 
(STPS) officials require evidence that unions are genuine and 
representative before registering them.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) Committee of Experts 
(COE) found that certain restrictions in federal employee labor 
law, a separate section of the Constitution and FLL, violate 
freedom of association.  At the request of federal employee 
unions, the law allows only one union per jurisdiction and 
forbids reelection of union officials--provisions acceptable in 
union statutes but not in law.  The COE welcomed the fact that 
privatization of most banks ended these legal restrictions on 
their unions.

Mexican unions form federations and confederations freely 
without government approval.  Most belong to such bodies.  
They, too, must register to get legal status.  Questionable 
delays occur occasionally, but none were reported in 1994.

The largest trade union central is the Confederation of Mexican 
Workers (CTM), organizationally part of the ruling PRI.  CTM's 
major rival centrals and nearly all the 34 smaller 
confederations, federations, and unions in the Labor Congress 
(CT) are also allied with the ruling PRI.  However, the 
teachers' union, a large CT affiliate, severed its ties to the 
PRI to free its factions to cooperate openly with other 
parties.  Rivalries within and between PRI-allied centrals are 
strong.  There also are a few small labor federations and 
independent unions outside the CT which are not allied to the 
PRI.

Unions are free to affiliate with, and are often active in, 
trade union internationals.

Union officers help select, run as, and campaign for, PRI 
candidates in federal and state elections, and support PRI 
government policies at crucial moments.  This gives the unions 
considerable influence on government policies, but limits their 
freedom of action to defend member interests in other ways, 
particularly when this might threaten the Government or the 
PRI.  After the 1991 federal elections, the proportion of CT 
Senators and deputies fell to under 10 percent, but in 1994 the 
CT, and especially the CTM, regained some lost congressional 
nominations, and nearly all labor candidates won handily.

The Constitution and FLL provide for the right to strike.  The 
law requires 6 to 10 days' advance strike notice, followed by 
brief government mediation.  If federal or state authorities 
rule a strike "nonexistent" or "illicit," employees must remain 
at work, return to work within 24 hours, or face dismissal.  If 
they rule the strike legal, the company or unit must shut down 
totally, management officials may not enter the premises until 
the strike is over, and the company may not hire striker 
replacements.  The law permits public sector strikes, but they 
are rare.  Provisions for maintaining essential services are 
not onerous.

Most strike notices precede successful collective bargaining 
and are never implemented.  During 1993, 7,200 strike notices 
were filed with federal labor boards, and 148 legal strikes 
occurred.  The authorities ruled only two nonexistent and none 
illicit; two were withdrawn, they transferred 309 to state 
boards (not federal jurisdiction), and put 702 on file awaiting 
further information.

There were credible allegations that federal or state labor 
authorities occasionally stretch legal requirements to rule 
strikes nonexistent or illicit, or use delays to prevent 
damaging strikes and force settlements, but there was not a 
consistent pattern.  The Constitution and FLL protect labor 
organizations from government interference in their internal 
affairs, including strike decisions, which can also protect 
undemocratic or corrupt union leaders.  The law permits closed 
shop and exclusion clauses, allowing union leaders to vet and 
veto new hires and force dismissal of anyone the union expels.  
Such clauses are common in collective bargaining agreements.

Employer organizations have pushed for labor law reform which 
would limit union leaders' powers, but unions have successfully 
resisted.  However, the Government has induced de facto reform 
through tripartite national pacts (see below) and collective 
bargaining at the enterprise level.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The Constitution and FLL strongly uphold the right to organize 
and bargain collectively.  Interest by a few employees, or a 
union strike notice, compels an employer to recognize a union 
and negotiate, or ask the federal or state labor board to hold 
a union recognition election.  FLL pro-union provisions lead 
some employers to seek out independent, "white," or company 
unions as an alternative to mainstream national or local 
unions.  Representation elections are traditionally open, not 
secret.  Management and union officials are present with the 
presiding labor board official when each worker openly declares 
his or her vote.  Such open "recounts" are prevailing practice, 
but not required by law or regulation.  Secret ballots are held 
when all parties agree.

Annual national pacts negotiated by the Government and major 
trade union, employer, and rural organizations have voluntarily 
limited free collective bargaining for the past decade.  These 
pacts were intended to stop inflation and to support the 
Government's free market economic reforms and structural 
adjustment policies.  The mainstream labor organizations 
reluctantly accepted drastic reductions in members' real 
incomes in the late 1980's, although these regained some lost 
ground over the last 5 years.

The record in internal union democracy and transparency is 
mixed.  Some unions are democratic, but corruption or 
authoritarian and strong-arm tactics are common in others.  In 
1994 dissidents protested, alleging such practices in four of 
Mexico's strongest unions.  For example, they alleged fraud 
when the railroad union, an independent CT member, elected 
officers in October by secret ballot, although these 
allegations appeared unsubstantiated.  Three of the strongest 
national CTM unions--petroleum, electric, and sugar 
workers--have dissident movements which accused leaders of 
undemocratic or strong-arm tactics.  Electric union dissidents 
succeeded in pressuring the leadership into giving them several 
regional leadership posts.

The public sector is almost totally organized.  Industrial 
areas are heavily organized, but states with little industry 
often have few unions.  The law protects workers from antiunion 
discrimination, but enforcement is uneven, especially in states 
with low unionization.

Unionization and wage levels in the in-bond export sector vary 
by area, but, especially in the west, are lower than in most 
other industries.  Some observers allege poor working 
conditions, inadequate wages, and employer and government 
efforts to suppress unionization.  There is no evidence the 
Federal Government opposes unionization of these plants, which 
tend to be under state jurisdiction, but some state and local 
governments, as well as some employers, are known to discourage 
unions.

     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 law bans child labor and sets the minimum legal work age at 
14.  Although the activities of those aged 14 and 15 are so 
restricted as to be uneconomic (no night or hazardous work, 
limited hours), the ILO reported that 18 percent of children 
aged 12 to 14 work, often for parents or relatives.  Enforcement
is reasonably good at large and medium-sized companies, 
especially in export industries and those under federal 
jurisdiction.  Enforcement is inadequate at the many small 
companies and in agriculture.  It is nearly absent in the 
informal sector, despite government efforts.  Most child labor 
is in the informal sector (including myriad underage street 
vendors), agriculture, and in rural areas.

The Government increased obligatory school years from 6 to 9 in 
1992 and made parents legally liable for their children's 
attendance, as part of a reform to upgrade Mexican labor force 
skills and long-term efforts to continue increasing educational 
opportunities for youth.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The Constitution and the FLL provide for a daily minimum wage.  
The tripartite national minimum wage commission (government, 
labor, employers), sets minimum wage rates each December, 
effective January 1.  On January 2, 1995, after the year-end 
exchange rate crisis and peso float, the 1995 minimum daily 
wage in Mexico City and nearby industrial areas, Acapulco, 
southeast Veracruz state's refining and petrochemical zone and 
most border areas, was $3.27 (16.34 new pesos).  Minimum wage 
earners are actually paid $3.70 (18.48 new pesos) by their 
employers due to a supplemental 14 percent fiscal subsidy 
(negative income tax or tax credit), which employers then 
subtract from their own taxes.  These income supplements to the 
minimum wage, agreed in the annual tripartite pacts, are for 
all income less than four times the minimum wage, decreasing as 
wages and benefits rise.  In Guadalajara, Monterrey, and other 
advanced industrialized areas, the 1995 minimum daily wage 
(before the fiscal subsidy) was $3.04 (15.18 new pesos).  In 
other areas, it was $2.76 (13.79 new pesos).

There are higher minimums for some occupations, such as 
building trades.  Few workers (12 percent, including most 
waiters and hotel workers, who depend on tips) earn only the 
minimum wage.  Industrial workers average three to four times 
the minimum wage, earning more at bigger, more advanced, and 
prosperous enterprises.  The 1995 minimum daily wage in pesos 
was increased by 7 percent (4 percent for projected inflation 
and 3 percent for productivity), plus a 3-percent increase in 
the fiscal subsidy--a 10-percent total increase.  The 1995 
minimum daily wage is for the whole year, but inflation 
projections have been revised upward and any of the three 
parties can ask that the board reconvene during the year to 
consider a changed situation, although labor and employers 
agreed not to do so during the first months of 1995.  On 
January 3, 1995, labor, employers, and the Government agreed to 
establish a committee to study further tax changes.

The law and contract arrangements provide workers extensive 
additional benefits.  Legally required benefits include 
individual retirement accounts, social security (IMSS) 
coverage, individual worker housing accounts, substantial 
Christmas bonuses, paid vacations, and profit-sharing.  
Employer costs for these benefits run from about 27 percent of 
payroll at marginal enterprises to over 100 percent at major 
firms with generous union contracts.

The FLL sets 48 hours as the legal workweek.  Workers asked to 
exceed 3 hours of overtime per day or work overtime on 
3 consecutive days must be paid triple the normal wage.  For 
most industrial workers, especially under union contract, the 
true workweek is 42 hours, although they are paid for 6 full 
days.  This is why unions jealously defend the legal ban on 
hourly wages.

The law requires employers to observe occupational safety and 
health regulations issued jointly by STPS and IMSS, and pay 
contributions which vary according to their workplace safety 
and health experience ratings.  FLL-mandated joint (management 
and labor) committees set standards and are responsible for 
workplace enforcement in plants and offices.  These meet at 
least monthly to consider workplace needs and file copies of 
their minutes with federal labor inspectors, who assumed 
jurisdiction for all such inspections in 1987, supplanting 
state inspectors and strengthening inspection considerably.  
The inspectors schedule visits largely in response to these 
workplace committees.

Individual employees or unions may also complain directly to 
inspectors or safety and health officials.  Workers may remove 
themselves from hazardous situations without jeopardizing their 
employment.  Plaintiffs may bring complaints before the Federal 
Labor Board at no cost to themselves.

STPS and IMSS officials report compliance is reasonably good at 
most large companies.  Federal inspectors are stretched too 
thinly for effective enforcement if companies do not comply 
voluntarily and fulfill their legal obligation to train workers 
in occupational health and safety matters.  There are special 
problems in construction, where unskilled, untrained, 
poorly-educated, transient labor is common, especially at many 
small sites and companies.  Many unions, particularly in 
construction, are not organized effectively to provide training 
and to encourage members to work safely and healthily, to 
participate in the joint committees, and to insist on their 
rights.


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