Mexico Department of State Background

U.S. Department of State Background Note


The Aztec Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan, Mexico, December 23, 1999. [© AP Images]



United Mexican States

Area: 1,972,500 sq. km. (761,600 sq. mi.); about three times the size of Texas.
Cities: Capital--Mexico City (18.7 million, 2003 estimate for metro area). Other major cities--Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Ciudad Juarez, Tijuana, Acapulco, Merida, Leon, Veracruz.
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 (2006 estimate): 107.4 million.
Annual growth rate (2006 estimate): 1.16%.
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--11 (note: preschool education was made mandatory in Dec. 2001). Literacy--89.4%.
Health (2004 est.): Infant mortality rate--21.69/1000. Life expectancy--male 72.18 years; female 77.83 years.
Work force (2000, 39.81 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: Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), National Action Party (PAN), Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), Green Ecological Party (PVEM), Labor Party (PT), and several small parties.
Suffrage: Universal at 18.

Nominal GDP (2005): $769 billion (rank in world: 13).
GDP (PPP method, 2005): $1.07 trillion (rank in world: 13).
Per capita GDP (2005): $7,450 (rank in world: 53).
Per capita GDP (PPP method, 2005): $10,186 (rank in world: 65).
Annual real GDP growth: (2006 est.) 4.5%; (2005) 3.0%; (2004) 4.4%; (2003) 1.4%; (2002) 0.8%; (2001) -0.2%; (2000) 6.6%.
Avg. annual real GDP growth (2000-2005): 3.2%.
Inflation rate: (2006 est.) 3.4%, (2005) 3.3%; (2004) 5.2%; (2003) 4.0%; (2002) 5.7%; (2001) 4.4%; (2000) 9.0%.
Natural resources: Petroleum, silver, copper, gold, lead, zinc, natural gas, timber.
Agriculture (4% of GDP): Products--corn, beans, oilseeds, feed grains, fruit, cotton, coffee, sugarcane, winter vegetables.
Industry (26% of GDP): Types--manufacturing, energy, construction.
Services (70% of GDP): Types--commerce and tourism (21%), financial services (13%), and transportation and communications (11%).
Trade (Goods): Exports (2005)--$214 billion. Imports (2005)--$222 billion. Exports to U.S. (2005)--$183 billion (86% of total). Imports from U.S. (2005)--$118 billion (53% of total). Major markets--U.S., EU, Canada, Colombia, Japan.

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 Western Hemisphere. 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 in recent years.
Education is among the Mexican government’s highest priorities, and the education budget has continued to grow in recent years. Funding for education increased from 6.9 % of GDP in 2002 to 7.3% of GDP in 2005. While efforts to decentralize responsibility for education from the federal to the state level in order to improve accountability are ongoing, the central government still retains significant authority. Although educational performance in Mexico has improved substantially in recent decades, the country still faces several major problems, including providing education to rural and indigenous populations.

Education is currently mandatory for ages 5 through 15. An education reform law enacted in 2002 will make preschool mandatory for all children ages 3 and up by 2008. This reform is being implemented in stages. In 2005, 77.4% of the population between the ages of 3 and 15 were enrolled in school. Primary, including preschool, enrollment totaled 18.8 million in 2005. Enrollment at the secondary public school level rose from 5.4 million in 2000 to 5.9 million in 2005. After a significant increase in higher education enrollment during previous decades, Mexico has seen a slower rise in university enrollment more recently. Numbers rose from 2 million enrolled in 2000 to 2.4 million in 2005.

Highly developed 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. Father Hidalgo’s declaration of national independence, known in Mexico as the "Grito de Dolores", launched a decade long struggle for independence from Spain. 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 dominate Mexican politics from 1833 to 1855. 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.

Throughout the rest of the 19th century, Mexico’s government and economy were shaped by contentious debates among liberals and conservatives, republicans and monarchists, federalists and those who favored centralized government. During the two presidential terms of Benito Juarez (1858-71), Mexico experimented with modern democratic and economic reforms. President Juarez’ terms of office, and Mexico’s early experience with democracy, were interrupted by the Habsburg monarchy’s rule of Mexico (1864-67), and was followed by the authoritarian government of Gen. Porfirio Diaz, who 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 Madero, Venustiano Carranza, Pancho Villa, Alvaro Obregon, Victoriano Huerta, and Emiliano Zapata. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), formed in 1929 under a different name, emerged from the chaos of revolution as a vehicle for keeping political competition among a coalition of interests in peaceful channels. For 71 years, Mexico’s national government was controlled by the PRI, which won every presidential race and most gubernatorial races until the July 2000 presidential election of Vicente Fox Quesada of the National Action Party (PAN).

The 1917 constitution provides for a federal republic with powers separated into independent executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Historically, the executive has been 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 first 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. The Senate’s 128 seats are filled by a mixture of direct-election and proportional representation. 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. 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.

Principal Government Officials
President--Felipe CALDERON Hinojosa
Foreign Secretary--Patricia ESPINOSA Cantellano
Ambassador to the U.S.--Carlos DE ICAZA
Ambassador to the United Nations--Enrique BERRUGA Filloy
Ambassador to the OAS--Alejandro GARCIA-MORENO Elizondo

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).

Besides its embassy, Mexico maintains 48 diplomatic offices in the U.S. 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.

Vicente Fox Quesada of the National Action Party (PAN) was elected president in July 2000 in what were widely considered the freest and fairest elections in Mexico’s history. Fox began his six-year term on December 1, 2000. His victory ended the Institutional Revolutionary Party’s (PRI) 71-year hold on the presidency. President Fox completed his term on December 1, 2006, when Felipe Calderon assumed the presidency.

Numerous electoral reforms implemented since 1989 have progressively opened the Mexican political system, and opposition parties have made historic gains in elections at all levels. At the same time, this opening has left Mexico’s political institutions divided. Fox is credited with ending one-party rule and consolidating the opening of Mexico’s political system. Under Fox, Mexico’s highest office became a true constitutional presidency, considerably weakened in comparison to the PRI years by the PAN’s lack of control over the Congress.

Recent Elections
The 2006 elections resulted in an extremely tight race, with a margin of less than one percent separating the vote totals of the two leading candidates for president, Felipe Calderon of the PAN and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) of the left-of-center Democratic Revolution Party (PRD). The PRI candidate, Roberto Madrazo, came in a distant third.

Lopez Obrador contested the results of the July 2 presidential election, alleging that it was marred by widespread fraud. He challenged in court the result of the Federal Electoral Institute’s tabulation showing that Calderon had won the election and launched a mass street protest demanding a nationwide vote-by-vote recount. Mexico’s Federal Electoral Tribunal, while acknowledging the presence of randomly-distributed irregularities, rejected Lopez Obrador’s accusation of widespread fraud and upheld Calderon’s victory on September 5, 2006.

On September 16, 2006, the PRD sponsored a "National Democratic Convention," convened on Mexico City’s historic central square, that rejected Calderon’s presidency, approved a resolution naming Lopez Obrador Mexico’s "legitimate" president, and called for the creation of a parallel executive cabinet. Convention participants also approved a long-term civil resistance action plan. Lopez Obrador’s support is largely drawn from Mexico’s poorer classes, some of whom feel disenfranchised from Mexico’s political system.

In the 2006 elections, the PAN emerged as the largest party in both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, with just over 40 percent of the seats in each house of Congress. It does not enjoy a legislative majority. Although the PRI no longer controls the Presidency and has fewer congressional seats than either the PAN or PRD, it remains a significant force in Mexican politics, holding 17 governorships.

Other Reforms
One of President Fox’s most important reforms was the passage and implementation of Freedom of Information (FOIA) laws that, by the end of 2005, were in effect for the federal government, Mexico City, and 26 states (only two states had such laws in 2001). These laws are a cornerstone in Mexico’s fight against corruption, and Mexico’s FOIA laws and enforcement mechanisms have been hailed as international models.

President Fox also highlighted the need for modernization of Mexico’s criminal justice system, including the introduction of oral trials. Although judicial reforms stalled at the federal level during the Fox years, 10 states have now either completed or are in the process of enacting such reforms. Furthermore, all presidential candidates in the 2006 elections committed to further federal judicial reforms.

Under President Fox, the executive branch became more accountable, transparent, and citizen-centered. In 2003, Mexico passed its first-ever Civil Service Law, which introduced an on-line application system and competence-based hiring. The Fox administration’s good government agenda also included the initiation of government services via Internet, the development of citizen charters that set standards for service delivery, and the reduction in the percentage of public servants working in administrative jobs from one out of two to one out of four.

Mexico is highly dependent on exports to the U.S., which account for almost a quarter of the country’s GDP. The result is that the Mexican economy is strongly linked to the U.S. business cycle. Real GDP grew by 3.0% in 2005 and was projected to grow by 4.5% for 2006.

Mexico’s trade regime is among the most open in the world, with free trade agreements with the U.S., Canada, the EU, and many other countries. Since the 1994 devaluation of the peso, successive Mexican governments have improved the country’s macroeconomic fundamentals. Inflation and public sector deficits are under control, while the current account balance and public debt profile have improved. As of September 2006, Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s, and Fitch Ratings had all issued investment-grade ratings for Mexico’s sovereign debt.

Mexico is among the world’s most open economies, but it is dependent on trade with the U.S., which bought 86% of its exports in 2005. Top U.S. exports to Mexico include electronic equipment, motor vehicle parts, and chemicals. Top Mexican exports to the U.S. include petroleum, cars, and electronic equipment. There is considerable intra-company trade.

Mexico is an active and constructive member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). It hosted the September 2003 WTO Ministerial Meeting in Cancun. The Mexican Government and many businesses support a Free Trade Area of the Americas.

Trade disputes between the U.S. and Mexico are generally settled through direct negotiations between the two countries or via WTO or North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) panels. The most significant areas of friction involve agricultural products such as sugar, high fructose corn syrup, apples, and rice.

Mexico's agrarian reform program began in 1917, when the government began distribution of land to farmers. Extended further in the 1930s, delivery of land to peasants continued into the 1960s and 1970s at varying rates. 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. Additionally, only 12% of Mexico’s land area is arable, of which less than 3% is irrigated. This, coupled with a general lack of economic opportunity in rural areas, has made it difficult to raise the productivity and living standards of Mexico's subsistence farmers.

Agriculture accounted for 4% of GDP in 2005, yet agricultural employment accounted for over 16% of total employment. However, the number of Mexican farmers is steadily decreasing as they seek greater economic opportunities from off-farm employment.

Poor availability of credit continues to plague agriculture. Agricultural loans were hard hit by the 1994 peso crisis and many private banks view agricultural lending, particularly to smaller producers, as too risky. Several government entities provide public credit to the rural sector, including Financiera Rural, a development bank dedicated to supporting agriculture.

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 the land, opening the way for larger farms and economies of scale. There have been few actual sales of communal land, and most have been limited primarily to suburban areas where land values are high. One inhibiting factor may be community opposition based on vested interests in maintaining the communal land system.

Mexico subsidizes agricultural production through various support programs, the most notable being the PROCAMPO initiative. Since the early 1990s, the availability of program payments has shifted from primarily grains and legumes to all commodities, provided a farmer was producing during a certain base period. Total support program funding for 2004 was approximately $2.4 billion, with PROCAMPO payments of $88 per hectare for producers with more than five hectares and $100 per hectare for producers with 1-5 hectares.

Manufacturing and Foreign Investment
The manufacturing sector, which accounts for about 18% of GDP, grew by 1.2% in 2005. Construction grew by 4% in real terms in 2005, fueled by a boom in housing finance.

According to Mexico's Ministry of Economy, foreign direct investment (FDI) in Mexico for 2005 was $18.8 billion, down slightly from the year before. The U.S. was once again the largest foreign investor in Mexico, accounting for 66% of reported FDI. The most recent numbers released by Mexico show FDI for January through June 2006 at $8.7 billion.

Oil and Gas
In 2005 Mexico was the world’s sixth-largest oil producer, its eighth-largest oil exporter, and the third-largest supplier of oil to the U.S. Oil and gas revenues provide more than one-third of all Mexican Government revenues.

Mexico’s state-owned oil company, Pemex, holds a constitutionally established monopoly for the exploration, production, transportation, and marketing of the nation’s oil. While private investment in natural gas transportation, distribution, and storage has been permitted, Pemex remains in sole control of natural gas exploration and production. Despite substantial reserves, Mexico is a net natural gas importer.

Transportation and Communications
Mexico’s land transportation network is one of the most extensive in Latin America with 117,000 kilometers (km.) of paved roads, including more than 10,000 kilometers of four-lane paved roads. The 26,622 kilometers (16,268 mi.) of government-owned railroads in Mexico have been privatized through the sale of 50-year operating concessions.

Mexico’s ports have experienced a boom in investment and traffic following a 1993 law that privatized the port system. Mexico’s ports moved nearly 1.7 million containers in 2003. 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. In 2005, the Government of Mexico agreed to sell Mexicana, one of the two main national airlines, to a private investor. Airports are semi-privatized with the government still the majority shareholder, but with each regional airport group maintaining operational autonomy.

The telecommunications sector is dominated by Telmex, the former state-owned monopoly. Several international companies compete in the sector with limited success. The teledensity rate in Mexico (around 16%) is among the lowest in Latin America. Cellular penetration is much higher with over 33 million cellular customers in 2004. However, 31 million of these customers use pre-paid cards, and many use their phones to receive calls only. Mexico’s satellite service sector was opened to competition, including limited foreign direct investment, in 2001.

Mexico’s armed forces number about 225,000. The army makes up about three-fourths of that total. The navy is a completely autonomous cabinet agency and as such there is no joint chief of staff position. Principal military roles include national defense, narcotics control, and civic action assignments such as search and rescue and disaster relief. Mexican military and naval forces provided disaster assistance to the U.S. in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which struck Louisiana and Mississippi in August 2005.

Traditionally, Mexico has sought to maintain its interests abroad and project its influence largely through moral persuasion and has championed 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. President Fox more actively promoted international human rights and democracy and sought to increase Mexico’s participation in international affairs.

Mexico actively participates in several international organizations; it was elected to a seat on the UN Security Council for the period 2002-03. It is a strong 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. Nevertheless, Mexico does seek to diversify its diplomatic and economic relations, as demonstrated by its accession to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1986; its joining the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) in 1993; its becoming, in April 1994, the first Latin American member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); and its entering the World Trade Organization as a founding member in 1996. Mexico attended the 1994 Summit of the Americas, held in Miami; managed coordination of the agenda item on education for the 1998 Summit of the Americas in Santiago, Chile; and hosted a Special Summit of the Americas in early 2004. Mexico hosted the September 2003 WTO Ministerial in Cancun and a Hemispheric Security Conference in October of the same year. It was elected to the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors in 2003. In 2002 it hosted the APEC Leaders’ Meeting in Cabo San Lucas.

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, homeland security, drug control, migration, or the promotion of democracy. The U.S. and Mexico are partners in NAFTA, and enjoy a rapidly developing trade relationship. In March 2005, the U.S., Mexico, and Canada formed the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), which contemplates trilateral and bilateral initiatives to develop new avenues of cooperation that will enhance North America’s security, competitiveness, and economic resilience.

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 a million legal border crossings a day. 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 55% of all foreign direct investment in Mexico. Along the 2,000-mile shared border, state and local governments interact closely.

There has been frequent contact at the highest levels. Presidents’ meetings have included the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting in Bangkok in October 2003; President Bush’s visits to Monterrey in January 2004 (Summit of the Americas) and March 2002; his April 2001 visit to Guanajuato; President Fox’s state visit to the U.S. in September 2001, and his meeting with the President at Crawford, Texas in March 2004. The two Presidents also met in Crawford in March 2005 where, along with then Canadian Prime Minister Martin, they launched the Security and Prosperity Partnership. They held a follow-on SPP meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Harper in Cancun in March 2006.

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 border security and counter terrorism, trade and investment opportunities, financial cooperation, consular issues and migration, legal affairs and anti-narcotics cooperation, education, energy, border affairs, environment and natural resources, labor, agriculture, health, housing and urban development, transportation, and science and technology.

A strong partnership with Mexico is critical to combating terrorism and controlling the flow of illicit drugs into the United States. In recent years, cooperation on counter-narcotics and Mexico’s own initiatives in fighting drug trafficking have been unprecedented. The U.S. will continue working with Mexico as it seeks to strengthen its cooperation and anti-drug efforts. The U.S. and Mexico continue to cooperate on narcotics interdiction, demand reduction, and eradication.

Border and Environmental Affairs
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. Chaired by U.S. and Mexican consuls, the BLMs operate in "sister city" pairs and 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.

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 United States and Mexico have a 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.
  • 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 Border Health Commission held its inaugural meeting in November 2000 and is made up of the federal secretaries of health, the ten border states' chief health officers, and prominent community health professionals from both countries. A representative from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services manages the U.S. Section in El Paso, Texas.
  • The 1983 La Paz Agreement to protect and improve the border environment and Border 2012, a 10-year, binational, results-oriented environmental program for the U.S.-Mexico border region. The Border 2012 Program is the latest multi-year, binational planning effort to be implemented under the La Paz Agreement and succeeds Border XXI, a five-year program that ended in 2000.
  • 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. Prior to 2005, both institutions had separate Boards of Directors. In an effort to improve efficiency, the separate Boards were merged into a single entity and the combined Board held its first meeting in June 2006.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador-- Antonio O. Garza, Jr.
Deputy Chief of Mission--Leslie Bassett
Minister Counselor for Political Affairs--Charles Barclay
Minister Counselor for Economic Affairs--Vladimir Sambaiew
Minister Counselor for Public Diplomacy--James Dickmeyer
Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs--David Donahue
Minister Counselor for Commercial Affairs--Karen Zens
Minister Counselor for Management Affairs-- Isiah Parnell
Minister Counselor for Agricultural Affairs--Suzanne Heinen
Consul General--vacant
Counselor for Labor Affairs--Kevin Richardson
Counselor for Scientific and Technological Affairs--David Wagner

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) 555-080-2000; Internet:

The embassy and the 22 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--Donna Blair
Address: Avenida Lopez Mateos 924-N, 32000 Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua
U.S. Postal Address: Box 10545, El Paso, Texas 79995-0545
Tel. (from the U.S.): (011)(52) 656-611-3000

Consulate General, Guadalajara--Edward Ramotowski
Address: Progreso 175, 44100, Guadalajara, Jalisco
U.S. Postal Address: Box 9001, Brownsville, Texas 78520-0901
Tel.: (011)(52) 333-268-2100

Consulate General, Monterrey--Luis Moreno
Address: Avenida Constitution 411 Poniente, 64000 Monterrey, Nuevo Leon
U.S. Postal Address: Box 9002, Brownsville, Texas 78520-0902
Tel.: (011)(52) 818-345-2120

Consulate General, Tijuana--Ronald Kramer
Address: Tapachula 96, 22420 Tijuana, Baja California Norte
U.S. Postal Address: P.O. Box 439039, San Diego, California 92143-9039
Tel.: (011)(52) 664-681-7400

Consulate, Hermosillo--Robert Clarke
Address: Calle Monterrey 141 Pte., 83260, Hermosillo, Sonora
U.S. Postal Address: Box 1689, Nogales, Arizona 85628
Tel.: (011)(52) 662-2893500

Consulate, Matamoros--Cecelia Herrera-Elizondo
Address: Ave. Primera 2002, 87330, Matamoros, Tamaulipas
U.S. Postal Address: Box 633, Brownsville, Texas 78522-0633
Tel.: (011)(52) 868-812-4402

Consulate, Merida--Karen Martin
Address: Calle 60 No 338K x 29 y 31, Colonia Alcala Martin, CP 97050, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico
U.S. Postal Address: Box 9003, Brownsville, Texas 78520-0903
Tel.: (011)(52)(999) 942-5700

Consulate, Nogales--Cynthia Sharpe
Address: Calle San Jose s/n, 84065, Nogales, Sonora
U.S. Postal Address: P.O. Box 1729, Nogales, AZ 85628-1729
Tel.: (011)(52) 631-313-4820

Consulate, Nuevo Laredo--David Stone
Address: Calle Allende 3330, Col. Jardin, 88260 Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas
U.S. Postal Address: Box 3089, Laredo, Texas 78044-3089
Tel.: (011)(52) 867-714-0512

Consular Agents
Acapulco--Alexander Richards
Address: Hotel Acapulco Continental, Costera M. Aleman 121-Local 14,
39670 Acapulco, Guerrero
Tel. (from the U.S.): (011)(52) 744-469-0556

Cabo San Lucas--Michael John Houston
Address: Blvd. Marina, Local C-4, Plaza Nautica, Zona Centro,
23410 Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur
Tel.: (011)(52) 624-143-3566

Cancun--Lynette Belt
Address: Plaza Caracol 2, #320-323, Blvd. Kukulkan, Km. 8.5 Zona Hotelera,
77500 Cancun, Quintana Roo
Tel.: (011)(52) 998-883-0272

Ciudad Acuna--vacant
Morelos y Ocampo #305, Col. Centro
26200 Ciudad Acuna, Coahuila
Tel. (011)(52) 877-772-8661

Cozumel--Anne Harris
Address: Plaza Villa Mar en El Centro, Plaza Principal, Parque Juarez
(entre Melgar y 5a Av.), Piso 2, 77622 Cozumel, Quintana Roo
Tel.: (011)(52) 987-872-4574

Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo--Elizabeth Williams
Address: Hotel Fontan, Blvd. Ixtapa, Ixtapa, Zihuantanejo, Gro. 40880, Mexico
Courier Address: Paseo de los Hujes 236, Col. El Hujal,
40880 Zihuatanejo, Guerrero
Tel.: (011)(52) 755-553-1108

Mazatlan--Patti Fletcher
Address: Hotel Playa Mazatlan, Rodolfo T. Loaiza 202, Zona Dorada,
82110 Mazatlan, Sinaloa
Tel.: (011)(52) 669-916-5889

Oaxaca--Mark A. Leyes
Address: Macedonia Alcala 407, Int. 20,
68000 Oaxaca, Oaxaca
Tel.: (011)(52) 951-514-3054

Piedras Negras--Dina O'Brien
Address: Prol. General Cepeda No. 1900, Franccionamiento Privada Blanca,
Piedras Negras, Coahiula, C.P. 26700
Tel. (011)(52)795-1986

Puerto Vallarta--Kelly Trainor
Address: Zaragoza 160, Edificio Vallarta Plaza, Piso 2, Int. 18,
48300 Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
Tel.: (011)(52) 322-222-0069

Reynosa--Vera Vera
Calle Monterrey #390 esq. Sinaloa, Col. Rodriguez
88630 Reynosa, Tamaulipas
Tel. (011)(52)899-893-9331

San Luis Potosi--Carolyn Lazaro
Address: Edificio "Las Terrazas," Av. Venustiano Carranza 2076-41, Col. Polanco,
78220 San Luis Potosi, San Luis Potosi
Tel.: (011)(52) 444-811-7802

San Miguel de Allende--Philip Maher
Address: Dr. Hernandez Macias 72
37700 San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato
Tel.: (011)(52) 415-152-2357

Other Contact Information
American Chamber of Commerce of Mexico
A.C. Lucerna 78-4 06600 Mexico
D.F. Mexico
Tel: (011)(52) 555-724-3800
Fax: 555-703-3908
(Branch offices also in Guadalajara and Monterrey)

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


The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program advises Americans traveling and residing abroad through Consular Information Sheets, Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings. Consular Information Sheets exist for all countries and include information on entry and exit requirements, currency regulations, health conditions, safety and security, crime, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. embassies and consulates abroad. Public Announcements are issued to disseminate information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions overseas that pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel to a certain country because the situation is dangerous or unstable.

For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet web site at, where the current Worldwide Caution, Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings can be found. Consular Affairs Publications, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a safe trip abroad, are also available at For additional information on international travel, see

The Department of State encourages all U.S citizens traveling or residing abroad to register via the State Department's travel registration website or at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Registration will make your presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an emergency and will enable you to receive up-to-date information on security conditions.

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or the regular toll line 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the U.S. and Canada.

The National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of State's single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport information. Telephone: 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778). Customer service representatives and operators for TDD/TTY are available Monday-Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight, Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.

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 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.

Further Electronic Information
Department of State Web Site. Available on the Internet at, the Department of State web site provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy information, including Background Notes and daily press briefings along with the directory of key officers of Foreign Service posts and more. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) provides security information and regional news that impact U.S. companies working abroad through its website provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market information offered by the federal government and provides trade leads, free export counseling, help with the export process, and more.

STAT-USA/Internet, a service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides authoritative economic, business, and international trade information from the Federal government. The site includes current and historical trade-related releases, international market research, trade opportunities, and country analysis and provides access to the National Trade Data Bank.

Revised: Feb. 2007

See also: