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  U.S. Department of State, January 2001
Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs

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Background Notes:

Official Name:
United Mexican States


Area: 1,972,500 sq. km. (761,600 sq. mi.); about three times the size of Texas.
Cities: Capital--Mexico City (21 million, 1997 census). Other cities--Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Leon.
Terrain: Coastal lowlands, central high plateaus, and mountains up to 5,400 m. (18,000 ft.).
Climate: Tropical to desert.


Nationality: Noun and adjective--Mexican(s).
Population (1999 census): 98.1 million.
Annual growth rate (net) 2000: 1.6%.
Ethnic groups: Indian-Spanish (mestizo) 60%, Indian 30%, Caucasian 9%, other 1%.
Religions: Roman Catholic 89%, Protestant 6%, other 5%.
Language: Spanish.
Education: Years compulsory--12. Literacy--89.6% Health (1996 est.): Infant mortality rate--31/1,000. Life expectancy--male 73 years; female 77 years. Work force (1999, 41 million): Agriculture, forestry, hunting, fishing--21.0%; services--32.2%; commerce--16.9%; manufacturing--18.7%; construction--5.6%; transportation and communication--4.5%; mining and quarrying--1.0%.


Type: Federal republic.
Independence: First proclaimed September 16, 1810; republic established 1824.
Constitution: February 5, 1917.
Branches: Executive--president (chief of state and head of government). Legislative--bicameral. Judicial--Supreme Court, local and federal systems.
Administrative subdivisions: 31 states and a federal district.
Political parties: Green Ecological Party (PVEM), Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), Labor Party (PT), National Action Party (PAN), Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), and several small parties.
Suffrage: Universal at 18.


GDP (1999): $484 billion.
Per capita GDP (1999): $4,974.
Annual real GDP growth (2000 est.): 7%; 1999, 3.7%; 1998, 4.9%; 1997, 6.8%.
Avg. annual real GDP growth (1994-2000): 3.0%
Inflation rate (2000 est.): 8.8%; 1999, 12.3%; 1998, 18.6%; 1994-2000, 18.2%. Natural resources: Petroleum, silver, copper, gold, lead, zinc, natural gas, timber.
Agriculture (5.0 % of GDP): Products--corn, beans, oilseeds, feedgrains, fruit, cotton, coffee, sugarcane, winter vegetables. Industry (28.2% of GDP): Types--manufacturing (21.1%), petroleum and mining.
Services (66.8% of GDP): Types--commerce and tourism (20.7%), transportation and communications (9.5%).
Trade (1999, INEGI): Exports--$136 billion: manufacturing 89.6%, petroleum and derivatives 7.3%, agriculture 2.9%, other 0.2%. Major Markets--U.S. (89%, $120 billion in 1999), Europe (3.5%), South America (2.6%), Canada (1.3%). Imports--$142 billion: intermediate goods 77.0%, capital goods 14.5%, consumer goods 8.5%. Major source--U.S. (74.0%, $105.5 billion in 1999), Europe (9.0%), Asia (8.6%), Canada (1.8%).


Mexico is the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world and the second most-populous country in Latin America after Portuguese-speaking Brazil. About 70% of the people live in urban areas. Many Mexicans emigrate from rural areas that lack job opportunities--such as the underdeveloped southern states and the crowded central plateau--to the industrialized urban centers and the developing areas along the U.S.-Mexico border. According to some estimates, the population of the area around Mexico City is about 18 million, which would make it the largest concentration of population in the world. Cities bordering on the United States--such as Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez--and cities in the interior--such as Guadalajara, Monterrey, and Puebla--have undergone sharp rises in population.


Highly advanced cultures, including those of the Olmecs, Mayas, Toltecs, and Aztecs existed long before the Spanish conquest. Hernando Cortes conquered Mexico during the period 1519-21 and founded a Spanish colony that lasted nearly 300 years. Independence from Spain was proclaimed by Father Miguel Hidalgo on September 16, 1810; this launched a war for independence. An 1821 treaty recognized Mexican independence from Spain and called for a constitutional monarchy. The planned monarchy failed; a republic was proclaimed in December 1822 and established in 1824.

Prominent figures in Mexico's war for independence were Father Jose Maria Morelos; Gen. Augustin de Iturbide, who defeated the Spaniards and ruled as Mexican emperor from 1822-23; and Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana, who went on to control Mexican politics from 1833 to 1855. Santa Ana was Mexico's leader during the conflict with Texas, which declared itself independent from Mexico in 1836, and during Mexico's war with the United States (1846-48). The presidential terms of Benito Juarez (1858-71) were interrupted by the Hapsburg monarchy's rule of Mexico (1864-67). Archduke Maximilian of Austria, whom Napoleon III of France established as Emperor of Mexico, was deposed by Juarez and executed in 1867. Gen. Porfirio Diaz was president during most of the period between 1877 and 1911.

Mexico's severe social and economic problems erupted in a revolution that lasted from 1910-20 and gave rise to the 1917 constitution. Prominent leaders in this period--some of whom were rivals for power--were Francisco I. Madero, Venustiano Carranza, Pancho Villa, Alvaro Obregon, Victoriano Huerta, and Emiliano Zapata. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), formed in 1929 under a different name, continues to be the most important political force in the nation. It emerged as a coalition of interests after the chaos of the revolution as a vehicle for keeping political competition in peaceful channels. For almost 70 years, Mexico's national government has been controlled by the PRI, which has won every presidential race and most gubernatorial races.


The 1917 constitution provides for a federal republic with powers separated into independent executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Historically, the executive is the dominant branch, with power vested in the president, who promulgates and executes the laws of the Congress. The Congress has played an increasingly important role since 1997 when opposition parties made major gains. The president also legislates by executive decree in certain economic and financial fields, using powers delegated from the Congress. The president is elected by universal adult suffrage for a 6-year term and may not hold office a second time. There is no vice president; in the event of the removal or death of the president, a provisional president is elected by the Congress.

The Congress is composed of a Senate and a Chamber of Deputies. Consecutive re-election is prohibited. Senators are elected to 6-year terms, and deputies serve 3-year terms. In the lower chamber, 300 deputies are directly elected to represent single-member districts, and 200 are selected by a modified form of proportional representation from five electoral regions created for this purpose across the country. The 200 proportional representation seats were created to help smaller parties gain access to the Chamber.

The judiciary is divided into federal and state court systems, with federal courts having jurisdiction over most civil cases and those involving major felonies. Under the constitution, trial and sentencing must be completed within 12 months of arrest for crimes that would carry at least a 2-year sentence. In practice, the judicial system often does not meet this requirement. Trial is by judge, not jury, in most criminal cases. Defendants have a right to counsel, and public defenders are available. Other rights include defense against self-incrimination, the right to confront one's accusers, and the right to a public trial. Supreme Court justices are appointed by the president and approved by the Senate.

National Security

Mexico's armed forces number about 225,000. The army makes up about three-fourths of that total. Principal military roles include national defense, narcotics control, and civic action assignments such as road-building, search and rescue, and disaster relief.

Principal Government Officials

President--Vicente FOX Quesada
Foreign Secretary--Jorge G. CASTAÑEDA
Ambassador to the U.S.--Juan Jose Bremer Martino
Ambassador to the United Nations--Manuel TELLO Macias
Ambassador to the OAS--Claude HELLER Roussant

Mexico maintains an embassy in the United States at 1911 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20006 (tel. 202-728-1600). Consular offices are located at 2827 - 16th St. NW, 20009 (tel. 202-736-1012), and the trade office is co-located at the embassy (tel. 202-728-1686).

Consulates general are located in Chicago, Dallas, Denver, El Paso, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Antonio, San Diego, and San Francisco; consulates are (partial listing) in Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Philadelphia, Seattle, St. Louis, and Tucson.


Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon was sworn in on December 1, 1994, as the President of Mexico. A trained economist with degrees from Yale, Zedillo served as Secretary of Programming and Budget and Secretary of Education in the Salinas administration prior to being elected. President Zedillo continued the process already underway of opening Mexico's political system, supporting electoral reforms to ensure greater fairness and transparency, reforming the justice system, curtailing corruption, strengthening the fight against narcotics trafficking, and furthering Mexico's market-oriented economic policies. A severe financial crisis occupied much of the Zedillo administration's attention in 1995-96, creating a need for difficult emergency economic stabilization policies and intensified longer term economic restructuring.

On July 2, 2000, Vicente Fox Quesada of the opposition Alliance for Change coalition, mainly headed by the National Action Party (PAN), was elected president, in what are considered to have been the freest and fairest elections in Mexico's history. Fox begins his 6-year term on December 1. His victory ended the Institutional Revolutionary Party's (PRI) 71-year hold on the presidency.

Fox has proposed major changes in the relationship between the individual and the state as well as between the individual states and the federal government. The President-elect has promised a cabinet representative of Mexican society and vowed to maintain a prudent fiscal policy, emphasize job creation, promote more legal emigration into the United States, initiate negotiations with the rebels in the southern state of Chiapas, and move ahead with constitutional reforms, such as the reelection of members of Congress.

Recent Elections

The July 2, 2000 elections marked the first time since the 1910 Mexican Revolution that the opposition defeated the party in government. Election officials declared Fox the winner with 43% of the vote, followed by PRI candidate Francisco Labastida with 36%, and Cuauhtemoc Cardenas of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) with 17%. Despite some isolated incidents of irregularities and problems, there was no evidence of systematic attempts to manipulate the elections or their results, and critics concluded that the irregularities that occurred did not alter the outcome of the presidential vote. Civic organizations fielded more than 80,000 trained electoral observers; foreigners--many from the United States--were invited to witness the process, and numerous independent "quick count" operations and exit polls validated the official vote tabulation.

Numerous electoral reforms implemented since 1989 aided in the opening of the Mexican political system, and opposition parties have made historic gains in elections at all levels. Many of the concerns shifted from fraud to campaign fairness issues. During 1995-96 the political parties negotiated constitutional amendments to address these issues. Implementing legislation included major points of consensus that had been worked out with the opposition parties. The thrust of the new laws has public financing predominate over private contributions to political parties, tightens procedures for auditing the political parties, and strengthens the authority and independence of electoral institutions. The court system also was given greatly expanded authority to hear civil rights cases on electoral matters brought by individuals or groups. In short, the extensive reform efforts have "leveled the playing field" for the parties.

Even before the new electoral law was passed, opposition parties had obtained an increasing voice in Mexico's political system. A substantial number of candidates from opposition parties had won election to the Chamber of Deputies and senate. As a result of the 2000 elections, the Congress will be more diverse than ever. In the new Chamber, 211 seats belong to the PRI, 206 to the PAN, 50 to the PRD, 17 for the Green Party, and the remaining 16 are split among four smaller parties. In the 128-seat Senate, the upper house of Congress, the PRI still holds the most seats at 60, but the PAN holds 46, the PRD15, the Greens 5, and two smaller parties each have one seat. Senators serve 6 years in office and Deputies 3 years; neither can be elected to consecutive terms.

In the aftermath of the July 2, 2000 elections, many political analysts assumed that the PRI, having lost its first presidential election, was a dying party. This rush to judgment has not been borne out by the facts. Certainly, the first state election in Chiapas, after July 2 appeared to confirm that prediction. Chiapas has long been a treasury of reliable votes for the PRI, but the opposition parties there joined in a broadbased coalition, including the PRD and the PAN. On August 20, around 50% of the eligible voters in Chiapas chose the coalition opposition candidate Pablo Salazar over the PRI's Sami David David by a six-point margin.

Yet, on September 3 in the coastal state of Veracruz, the PRI won more than half of the 210 municipal presidencies at stake, highlighting the party's underlying strength. On October 15, the PRI retained the governorship in the southeastern state of Tabasco, although the race was very tight and the results are still in dispute. On November 12, the PAN maintained the governorship of the western state of Jalisco, but again the race is being contested, this time by the PRI. The bottom line is that reports of the PRI's demise have been greatly exaggerated, and it will continue to be a major force for the foreseeable future.

Other Reforms

Constitutional and legal changes have been adopted in recent years to improve the performance and accountability of the Supreme Court and the Office of the Attorney General and the administration of federal courts. The Supreme Court, relieved of administrative duties for lower courts, was given responsibilities for judicial review of certain categories of law and legislation. A variety of laws also was passed in 1995-96 to help control organized crime.

Although the constitution provides for three branches of government, the Mexican presidency traditionally occupies a dominant position. In order to overcome this "presidentialism," the Zedillo administration sought to develop a greater role for the Congress, notably by inviting the participation of a multi-party legislative commission in the Chiapas peace negotiations and seeking congressional approval of the financial assistance package signed by the U.S. and Mexico in February 1995. Congress' role as a coequal balance to the Executive also received a boost after the July 1997 elections, which gave the opposition the strength to command a majority in the Chamber of Deputies. The judicial reforms mentioned above were designed in part to allow the judicial branch of government to become a more effective counterweight to the other two branches. The Zedillo administration also has promoted a "new federalism" to devolve more power to state and local governments, starting with pilot programs in education and health.


A lingering political conflict exists in the southernmost state of Chiapas. In January 1994, insurgents in the state of Chiapas briefly took arms against the government, protesting alleged oppression and governmental indifference to poverty. After 12 days of fighting, a cease-fire was negotiated that remains in effect. The government and the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) reached accords in 1996 that have not been implemented by Congress. Following the massacre of 45 indigenous peasants in the village of Acteal in December 1997, tensions increased; sporadic clashes continued to occur between armed civilian groups, usually over disputed land claims. As a presidential candidate, Fox promised to renew dialogue with the EZLN and address unresolved problems in the state.


Although educational levels in Mexico have improved substantially in recent decades, the country still faces daunting problems. Education is one of the Government of Mexico's highest priorities. The education budget for 2000--$23 billion--represented a 6.8% increase over the previous year's figure and 23% more funding in real terms for education in 2000 than in 1994. Educational funding now represents 27% of the budget. Education in Mexico also is being decentralized from federal to state authority in order to improve accountability.

Education is mandatory from ages 6 through 18. The increase in school enrollments during the past two decades has been dramatic. By 1999, 94% of the population between the ages of 6 and 14 were enrolled in school. Primary, including preschool, enrollment totaled 17.2 million in 2000. Enrollment at the secondary public school level rose from 1.4 million in 1972 to 5.4 million in 2000. A rapid rise also occurred in higher education. Between 1959-2000 college enrollments rose from 62,000 to more than 2.0 million.


Sustained economic growth is vital to Mexico's prospects for a successful evolution to a more competitive democracy. Mexico's level of economic prosperity has a direct, though proportionally smaller impact on the U.S. as it affects trade and migration. In recent years, Mexico has sought economic prosperity through liberalization of its trade regime. In January 1994, Mexico joined Canada and the United States in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which will phase out all tariffs over a 15-year period. Four months later, in April 1994, Mexico joined the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Mexico was the first Latin American member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC), joining in 1993, and in January 1996, became a founding member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Mexico's NAFTA membership helped the Mexican economy grow at an annualized rate of 2.3% in 1994-99. Following the December 1994 devaluation of the peso, however, Mexico experienced a severe financial crisis that also threatened the stability of other emerging market economies, especially in Latin America. The United States responded by leading a group of international lenders in making available to Mexico more than $40 billion in international financial assistance, including $20 billion from the United States. This action helped stabilize the Mexican economy, allowing Mexico to repay the loans to the United States more than 3 years ahead of schedule. The oil revenue windfall from Mexico's oil exports in 2000 reduced its recourse to the international capital market and allowed Mexico to pay off its debt to the International Monetary Fund and to liquidate some $7.9 billion in Brady bonds ahead of time.

Other indicators show that Mexico achieved the objectives of the emergency economic program developed to cope with the 1995 peso crisis. Although the 1995 recession was severe-real GDP fell 6.2%--tough stabilization measures averted a more serious collapse and brought about a rapid recovery. Mexican real GDP grew 6.8% in 1997, 4.9% in 1998, and 3.75% in 1999. The outlook is 7.0% for 2000. During these years, inflation and unemployment fell, and the value of the peso stabilized. NAFTA contributed to the process of adjustment by enabling Mexico to reduce its current account deficit through increased exports rather than through slashing imports from the United States, as it had following the 1982 debt crisis.


Mexico ranks second as a United States trading partner in 2000, accounting for 10% of U.S. trade. In 1999, $86.9 billion in merchandise exports to Mexico dramatically surpassed U.S. exports to Japan, even though the Mexican economy is just one-tenth the size of Japan's. That year, the United States was Mexico's predominant trading partner, accounting for 87% of Mexican exports and 77% of Mexican imports. The chief U.S. exports to Mexico were motor vehicle parts, electronic equipment, and agricultural products; the top imports from Mexico included petroleum, motor vehicles, and electronic equipment.

U.S.-Mexico trade increased dramatically during NAFTA's first 6 years (1994-99). In 1993, the year before NAFTA took effect, U.S. exports to Mexico totaled $41.6 billion and U.S. imports from Mexico $40.7 billion. By the end of 1999, U.S. exports had risen to $87 billion and imports from Mexico to $110 billion. (The official Mexican statistics for 1999, as distinguished from the U.S. data given above, shows Mexican exports as having been $120 billion and imports $105 billion.) So during 1994-99, according to U.S. data, two-way trade increased from $82.3 billion to $195.9 billion, growth exceeding 15% per annum during the period. Although trade deficits characterize U.S. trade with Mexico, U.S. exports to Mexico have been rising at a much faster rate than U.S. exports with the rest of the world. Between 1993 and 1999, U.S. exports to Mexico grew three times as fast as its exports to the rest of the world. Much of this trade is complementary intra-industry trade, a pattern of trade that shows that specialization in manufactured goods is progressing. As Mexico broadens and deepens its economic base, U.S. exports to Mexico will continue to rise in the interest of both countries.

NAFTA eliminates restrictions on the flow of goods, services, and investments in North America. In addition to phasing out tariffs, NAFTA eliminates, as far as possible, non-tariff barriers and promotes safeguards for intellectual property rights--patents, copyrights, and trademarks. This pact also includes provisions on trade rules and dispute settlements, and its parallel labor agreement seeks to ensure full protection of worker's rights.

Through its supplemental environment cooperation agreement, NAFTA marked the first time in the history of U.S. trade policy that environmental concerns have been addressed in a comprehensive trade agreement. The pact also serves as a basis for enhancing ongoing U.S.-Mexico cooperation on a host of other issues that do not respect national borders.


Mexico's agrarian reform program began in 1917, when the government began distribution of land to farmers. Extended further in the 1930s, this cooperative agrarian reform, which guaranteed small farmers a means of subsistence livelihood, also caused land fragmentation and lack of capital investment, since commonly held land could not be used as collateral. This, combined with poor soil, several recent years of low rainfall, and rural population growth, has made it difficult to raise the productivity and living standards of Mexico's subsistence farmers.

There have been programs that provide money to pay off loans and help banks with their debt burdens. While high credit costs are still a major problem impeding agricultural development, the burden of debt has been reduced. High interest rates for loans have compounded the difficulty for producers, and the 1994 peso crisis exacerbated the decline in productivity. Agriculture accounted for 5.8% of GDP in 1999.

In an effort to raise rural productivity and living standards, Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution was amended in 1992 to allow for the transfer of communal land to the farmers cultivating it. They then could rent or sell it, opening the way for larger farms and economies of scale. By early 1996, however, only six farmers' cooperatives had voted to dissolve themselves, perhaps because the government provides subsidies for communal land seeded by farmers. (The subsidy was 700 pesos per hectare in 1999.) Since communal land use is formally reviewed only every 2 years, privatization of these communal lands may continue to be very slow.

In the past, the government encouraged production of basic crops such as corn and beans by maintaining support prices. In order to rationalize its agricultural sector, Mexico is phasing out its support price scheme. Corn production dropped in 1995 and 1996 as more was imported. The government in 1996 crafted federal-to-state agreements targeted at each states' most urgent needs, with the goal of increasing the use of modern equipment and technology in order to increase per-acre productivity. In addition to this new initiative, the government is continuing PROCAMPO, the rural support program which provides the approximately 3.5 million farmers who produce basic commodities--about 64% of all farmers--with a fixed payment per hectare of cropland.

Manufacturing and Foreign Investment

Mexico's manufacturing sector accounted for 21% of Mexico's GDP in 1999 and 19% of employment in 1999. Manufacturing output grew at an annual rate of 7.3% in 1998, 4.1% in 1999, and may attain 6.7% in 2000.

The industrial sector as a whole, which along with manufacturing includes construction, electricity, and mining, grew 6.6% rate in 1998, 4.2% in 1999, and may rise by 6.4% in 2000. Construction grew 4.2% rate in 1998, 4.5% in 1999, and may rise by 6.6% in 2000.

In December 1993, Mexico passed a new foreign investment law which promotes competitiveness and established clear rules for the entry of international capital into productive activities. The law permits foreigners to own nonresidential property in the "restricted zones"--within 100 kilometers (62 miles) of the border and 50 kilometers of the coasts. Residential property in these zones still must be acquired via a trust through a Mexican financial institution. Total direct foreign investment in 1999 was $11.6 billion, 60% of which was of U.S. origin. In 2000, direct foreign investment may rise to $14.0 billion.

Transportation and Communications

The Zedillo administration continued the previous government's modernization of infrastructure and services, deregulation and development of more efficient transport systems, and increased privatization. Mexico's land transportation network is one of the most extensive in Latin America. More than 4,000 kilometers (2,400 miles) of four-lane highway have been built through government concessions to private sector contractors since 1989, of which 3,500 kilometers (2,100 miles) have been constructed since 1994. The 26,622 kilometers (16,268 miles) of government-owned railroads in Mexico have been privatized through the sale of 50-year operating concessions.

Tampico and Veracruz, on the Gulf of Mexico, are Mexico's two primary seaports. Recognizing that the low productivity of Mexico's 108 ports poses a threat to trade development, the government has steadily been privatizing port operations to improve their efficiency. A number of international airlines serve Mexico, with direct or connecting flights from most major cities in the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan, and Latin America. Most Mexican regional capitals and resorts have direct air services to Mexico City or the United States. Airport privatization, based on Mexico's successful experience with seaports, is nearly complete.

Mexico has taken significant steps to modernize its telecommunications system. A key element was the privatization in 1990 of the national telephone company, Telefonos de Mexico (TELMEX), which was sold to a consortium of Mexican investors, Southwestern Bell, and France Telecom. A positive result has been the increase in telephone lines and telephones for the general population. The government has opened the telecommunications sector to greater foreign investment. Competition in long-distance telecommunications service began in 1997, and competitors quickly gained a 30% share of the market. Eleven companies provide cellular telephone service to various parts of Mexico, resulting in a dramatic expansion of cellular telephone services to various parts of Mexico and a dramatic expansion of cellular telephone users. Three communications satellites were in use in Mexico in 1999. One satellite ceases operating in 2000.


Traditionally, the Government of Mexico has sought to maintain its interests abroad and project its influence largely through moral persuasion. In particular, Mexico champions the principles of nonintervention and self-determination. In its efforts to revitalize its economy and open up to international competition, Mexico has sought closer relations with the U.S., western Europe, and the Pacific Basin. While the United States and Mexico are often in agreement on foreign policy issues, some differences remain--in particular, relations with Cuba. The U.S. and Mexico agree on the ultimate goal of establishing a democratic, free-market regime in Cuba but disagree on tactics to reach that goal. Fox has promised to more actively promote international human rights and democracy and increase Mexico's participation in international affairs.

Mexico actively participates in several international organizations. It is a supporter of the United Nations and Organization of American States systems and also pursues its interests through a number of ad hoc international bodies. Mexico has been selective in its membership in other international organizations. It declined, for example, to become a member of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Nevertheless, Mexico does seek to diversify its diplomatic and economic relations, as demonstrated by its accession to GATT in 1986; its joining APEC in 1993; becoming, in April 1994, the first Latin American member of the OECD; and a founding member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1996. Mexico attended the 1994 Summit of the Americas, held in Miami, and managed coordination of the agenda item on education for the 1998 Summit of the Americas in Santiago, Chile.


U.S. relations with Mexico are as important and complex as with any country in the world. A stable, democratic, and economically prosperous Mexico is fundamental to U.S. interests. U.S. relations with Mexico have a direct impact on the lives and livelihoods of millions of Americans--whether the issue is trade and economic reform, drug control, migration, or the promotion of democracy. The U.S. and Mexico are partners in NAFTA, and enjoy a rapidly developing trade relationship.

The scope of U.S.-Mexican relations goes far beyond diplomatic and official contacts; it entails extensive commercial, cultural, and educational ties, as demonstrated by the annual figure of nearly 340 million legal crossings from Mexico to the United States in the fiscal year 1999. In addition, more than a half-million American citizens live in Mexico. More than 2,600 U.S. companies have operations there, and the U.S. accounts for 60% of all foreign direct investment in Mexico. Along the 2,000-mile shared border, state and local governments interact closely.

Since 1981, the management of the broad array of U.S.-Mexico issues has been formalized in the U.S.-Mexico Binational Commission, composed of numerous U.S. cabinet members and their Mexican counterparts. The commission holds annual plenary meetings, and many subgroups meet during the course of the year to discuss trade and investment opportunities, financial cooperation, consular issues and migration, legal affairs and anti-narcotics cooperation, cultural relations, education, energy, border affairs, environment and natural resources, labor, agriculture, health, housing and urban development, transportation, fisheries, tourism, and science and technology. The commission met most recently on May 2000 in Washington D.C.

A strong partnership with Mexico is critical to controlling the flow of illicit drugs into the United States. The U.S. has certified Mexico as fully cooperating in this effort based on the level of cooperation on counternarcotics and Mexico's own initiatives in fighting drug trafficking. The U.S. will continue working with Mexico to help ensure that Mexico's cooperation and anti-drug efforts grow even stronger.

During 1996, the U.S. and Mexico established a High-Level Contact Group (HLCG) on narcotics control to explore joint solutions to the shared drug threat, to coordinate the full range of narcotics issues, and to promote closer law enforcement coordination. President Zedillo formalized his government's commitment to counternarcotics cooperation with the United States by signing the "Declaration of the Mexican-U.S. Alliance Against Drugs" with President Clinton in May 1997. The U.S. and Mexico continue to cooperate on narcotics interdiction, demand reduction, and eradication. Mexican Government authorities have seized a record number of drugs over the past few years. Marijuana and heroin seizures in 2000 have increased by 50% and 61% respectively, while cocaine seizures are 34% lower than last year.

Border and Environmental Affairs

The "New Border Vision" report issued at the June 1998 Binational Commission meeting in Washington responded to the call by Presidents Clinton and Zedillo for a comprehensive and long-lasting strategy to transform the border into a model area of bilateral cooperation. It has become the blueprint for enhancing collaboration at all levels of government.

Cooperation between the United States and Mexico along the 2,000-mile common border includes state and local problem-solving mechanisms; transportation planning; and institutions to address resource, environment, and health issues. In 1993, the Border Liaison Mechanism (BLM) was established; now 10 BLMs chaired by U.S. and Mexican consuls operate in "sister city" pairs. BLMs have proven to be effective means of dealing with a variety of local issues ranging from accidental violation of sovereignty by law enforcement officials and charges of mistreatment of foreign nationals to coordination of port security and cooperation in public health matters such as tuberculosis. The BLMs form an integral part of the "New Border Vision."

As the number of people and the volume of cargo crossing the U.S.-Mexico border grow, so, too, does the need for coordinated infrastructure development. The multi-agency U.S.-Mexico Binational Group on Bridges and Border Crossings meets twice yearly to improve the efficiency of existing crossings and coordinate planning for new ones. The 10 U.S. and Mexican Border States have become active participants in these meetings. The U.S. and Mexico also conduct an annual "Border Walk" to gain a first-hand impression of how border crossings are working.

The United States and Mexico have a long history of cooperation on environmental and natural resource issues, particularly in the border area, where there are serious environmental problems caused by rapid population growth, urbanization, and industrialization. Cooperative activities between the U.S. and Mexico take place under a number of agreements such as:

  • An 1889 convention establishing the International Boundary Commission, reconstituted by the Water Treaty of 1944 as the International Boundary and Water Commission, United States and Mexico (IBWC). The IBWC has settled many difficult U.S.-Mexico boundary and water problems, including the regularization of the Rio Grande near El Paso through the 1967 Chamizal settlement. The IBWC divides the use of international waters, builds and operates water conservation and flood control projects, and constructs and maintains boundary markers on the land boundary and on international bridges. In recent years, the IBWC has worked to resolve longstanding border sanitation problems, to monitor the quantity and quality of border waters, and to address water delivery and sedimentation problems of the Colorado River. Current issues include Mexico's water debt to the U.S. on the Rio Grande, and the impact on Mexican groundwater sources which may be caused by the lining of the All-American Canal.

  • A series of agreements on border health (since 1942), wildlife and migratory birds (since 1936), national parks, forests, marine and atmospheric resources. In July of 2000, the U.S. and Mexico signed an agreement to establish a binational Border Health Commission. The new Border Health Commission is scheduled to hold its inaugural meeting before the end of 2000.

  • The 1983 La Paz Agreement to protect and improve the border environment and Border XXI, a binational, interagency planning program, begun in 1996, to address environmental, natural resource, and environmental health concerns in the border area. Border XXI concludes this year; hope is to develop a new border plan early in the new U.S. and Mexican administrations that will build on the progress of Border XXI while enhancing decentralization and stakeholders' involvement.

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

  • A November 1993 agreement between the U.S. and Mexico, also related to NAFTA, establishing the Border Environment Cooperation Commission (BECC) which works with local communities to develop and certify environmental infrastructure projects such as wastewater treatment plants, drinking water systems, and solid waste disposal facilities. The sister organization, the North American Development Bank (NADBank), uses capital and grant funds contributed by partner governments to help finance border environmental infrastructure projects certified by the BECC. BECC has certified more than 40 environment infrastructure projects, 29 of which are now built or are under construction.

Principal U.S. Officials

Ambassador--Jeffrey Davidow
Deputy Chief of Mission-James Derham
Minister-Counselor for Political Affairs-J. Christian Kennedy
Minister-Counselor for Economic Affairs-Laurence M. Kerr
Counselor for Labor Affairs--John Ritchie
Minister-Counselor for Public Diplomacy-John S. Dickson
Minister-Counselor for Consular Affairs-Robyn M. Bishop
Consul General-Mirian K. Hughesv Counselor for Scientific and Technological Affairs-Dana M. Weant
Counselor for Commercial Affairs-Dale Slaght

The U.S. embassy in Mexico is located at Paseo de la Reforma 305, 06500 Mexico, DF. U.S. Mailing Address: Box 3087, Laredo, Texas 78044-3087, Tel. (from the U.S.): (011) (52-5) 209-9100. Internet: http://www.usembassy-mexico.gov

The embassy and the 19 other U.S. Consulates General, Consulates, and consular agents provide a range of services to American students, tourists, business people, and residents throughout Mexico.

U.S. Consulates General, Consulates, and Officials

Consulate General, Ciudad Juarez-Edward H. Vazquez
Address: Avenida Lopez Mateos 924-N, 32000 Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua
Mailing Address: Box 10545, El Paso, Texas 79995-0545
Tel. (from the U.S.): (011)(52-16) 13-4048

Consulate General, Guadalajara-Edward H. Wilkinson
Address: Progreso 175, 44100, Guadalajara, Jalisco
Mailing Address: Box 3088, Laredo, Texas 78044-3088
Tel. (from the U.S.): (011)(52-38) 25-2998

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

Consulate General, Tijuana-Richard F. Gonzalez
Address: Tapachula 96, 22420 Tijuana, Baja California Norte
Postal Address: P.O. Box 439039, San Diego, California 92143-9039
Tel. (from the U.S.): (011)(52-66) 81-7400

Consulate, Hermosillo-Ronald J. Kramer
Address: Calle Monterrey 141 Pte., 83260, Hermosillo, Sonora
Postal Address: Box 3598, Laredo, Texas 78044-3598
Tel. (from the U.S.): (011)(52-62) 17-2375

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

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

Consulate, Nogales--Jane Gray
Address: Calle San Jose s/n, 84065, Nogales, Sonora
Postal Address: P.O. Box 1729, Nogales, AZ 85628-1729
Tel. (from the U.S.): (011)(52-631) 34820

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

Consular Agents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

U.S. Department of Commerce
International Trade Administration
Office of Latin America and the Caribbean
14th and Constitution, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Tel: 202-482-0305; 202-USA-TRADE
Fax: 202-482-0464
Internet: http://www.ita.doc.gov


The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program provides Consular Information Sheets, Travel Warnings, and Public Announcements. Consular Information Sheets exist for all countries and include information on entry requirements, currency regulations, health conditions, areas of instability, crime and security, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. posts in the country. Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel to a certain country. Public Announcements are issued as a means to disseminate information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions overseas which pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Free copies of this information are available by calling the Bureau of Consular Affairs at 202-647-5225 or via the fax-on-demand system: 202-647-3000. Consular Information Sheets and Travel Warnings also are available on the Consular Affairs Internet home page: http://travel.state.gov. Consular Affairs Tips for Travelers publication series, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a safe trip abroad are on the internet and hard copies can be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, telephone: 202-512-1800; fax 202-512-2250.

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-5225. For after-hours emergencies, Sundays and holidays, call 202-647-4000.

Passport information can be obtained by calling the National Passport Information Center's automated system ($.35 per minute) or live operators 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday ($1.05 per minute). The number is 1-900-225-5674 (TDD: 1-900-225-7778). Major credit card users (for a flat rate of $4.95) may call 1-888-362-8668 (TDD: 1-888-498-3648). It also is available on the internet.

Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 877-FYI-TRIP (877-394-8747) and a web site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/index.htm give the most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled Health Information for International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.

Information on travel conditions, visa requirements, currency and customs regulations, legal holidays, and other items of interest to travelers also may be obtained before your departure from a country's embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see "Principal Government Officials" listing in this publication).

U.S. citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in dangerous areas are encouraged to register at the U.S. embassy upon arrival in a country (see "Principal U.S. Embassy Officials" listing in this publication). This may help family members contact you in case of an emergency.

Further Electronic Information

Department of State Foreign Affairs Network. Available on the Internet, DOSFAN provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes Background Notes; daily press briefings; Country Commercial Guides; directories of key officers of Foreign Service posts; etc. DOSFAN's World Wide Web site is at http://1997-2001.state.gov.

National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related information. It is available on the Internet (www.stat-usa.gov) and on CD-ROM. Call the NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-1986 for more information.

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