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Foreign relations of Mexico

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Foreign relations of Mexico

The foreign relations of Mexico are directed by the President of the United Mexican States and managed through the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs. The principles of the foreign policy are constitutionally recognized in the Article 89, Section 10, which include: respect for international law and legal equality of states, their sovereignty and independence, non-intervention in the domestic affairs of other countries, peaceful resolution of conflicts, and promotion of collective security through active participation in international organizations. Since the 1930s, the Estrada Doctrine has served as a crucial complement to these principles.


After the War of Independence, the relations of Mexico were focused primarily on the United States, its northern neighbor, largest trading partner, and the most powerful actor in hemispheric and world affairs. Once the order was reestablished, its foreign policy was built under hemispheric prestige in subsequent decades. Demonstrating independence from the U.S., Mexico supported the Cuban government since its establishment in the early 1960s, the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua during the late 1970s, and leftist revolutionary groups in El Salvador during the 1980s. In the 2000s, former President Vicente Fox adopted a new foreign policy that calls for an openness and an acceptance of criticism from the international community and the increase of Mexican involvement in foreign affairs, as well as a further integration towards its northern neighbors. A greater priority to Latin America and the Caribbean was given during the administration of President Felipe Calderón.

Mexico is one of the founding members of several international organizations, most notably the United Nations, the Organization of American States, the Organization of Ibero-American States, the OPANAL and the Rio Group. For a long time, Mexico has been one of the largest contributors to the United Nations regular budget, in 2008 over 40 million dollars were given to the organization. In addition, it was the only Latin American member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development since it joined in 1994 until the accession of Chile in 2010. Mexico is considered as a newly industrialized country, a regional power and an emerging market, hence its presence in major economic groups such as the G8+5 and the G-20 major economies.

Foreign policy

The Article 89, Section 10 of the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States states the principles of the Mexican foreign policy, which were officially incorporated in 1988. The direction that the foreign policy will take lies on the President, as the head of state, and it is executed through the Secretary of Foreign Affairs. Textually, the article establishes that:

The powers and duties of the President are the following:

X. To direct the foreign policy and conclude international treaties, as well as end, denounce, suspend, modify, emend, retire reserves and formulate interpretative declarations about the formers, submitting them to the ratification of the Senate. In the conducting of this policy, the Head of the Executive Power will observe the following standard principles: the self-determination of peoples, the non-intervention, the peaceful resolution of disputes, the proscription of threat or the use of force in the international relations, the legal equality of states, the international cooperation for development, and the struggle for international peace and security.

Aside from these principles constitutionally recognized, the foreign policy has been based on some doctrines. The Estrada Doctrine as the most influential and representative instrument in this field, proclaimed in the early 1930s and strictly applied until 2000, claimed that foreign governments should not judge, positively or negatively, the governments or changes in government of other nations, in that such action would imply a breach to their sovereignty. This policy was said to be based on the principles of non-intervention, peaceful resolution of disputes and self-determination of all nations.

During the first presidency of the National Action Party, Vicente Fox appointed Jorge Castañeda to be his Secretary of Foreign Affairs. Castañeda immediately broke with the Estrada Doctrine, promoting what was called by critics the "Castañeda Doctrine". The new foreign policy called for an openness and an acceptance of criticism from the international community, and the increase of Mexican involvement in foreign affairs.

On November 28, 2006, President-elect Felipe Calderón announced that Patricia Espinosa would serve as his Secretary of Foreign Affairs starting on December 1, 2006. Her declared priorities include the diversification of the United States-Mexico agenda, heavily concentrated on immigration and security issues, and the rebuilding of diplomatic relations with Cuba and Venezuela, which were heavily strained during the Fox administration. As well as giving greater priority to Latin America and the Caribbean states.

Diplomatic relations

The Mexican foreign service officially started in 1822, the year after the signing of the Treaty of Córdoba, which marked the beginning of the country's independence. In 1831, legislation was passed that underpinned the establishment of diplomatic representations with other states in Europe and the Americas.

As a regional power and emerging market, Mexico holds a significant global presence. As of 2009, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs has over 150 representations at its disposal overseas, which include:

  • 81 embassies.
  • 69 consulates.
  • 6 permanent missions.
  • In the early 1970s, Mexico recognized the People's Republic of China as the sole and legitimate government of China, therefore issues related to the Republic of China (Taiwan) are managed through the Office of Consular Liaison under the circumscription of the Consulate General of Mexico in the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau. In addition, Mexico does not recognize Kosovo as an independent country.

    Historically, Mexico has remained neutral in international conflicts. However, in recent years some political parties have proposed an amendment of the Constitution in order to allow the Mexican army, air force or navy to collaborate with the United Nations in peacekeeping missions, or to provide military help to countries that officially ask for it.

    North America

    Since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect on January 1, 1994, relations between Canada, Mexico and the United States have significantly strengthened politically, economically, socially and culturally. During the Fox administration, a further integration towards Mexico's northern neighbors was a top priority. The September 11 attacks changed the priorities of U.S. foreign policy toward the strengthening of regional security. As a result, several trilateral summit meetings regarding this issue have occurred within the framework of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP), a region-level dialogue with the stated purpose of providing greater cooperation on security and economic issues, founded in Waco, Texas on March 23, 2005 by Paul Martin, former Prime Minister of Canada, Vicente Fox, then-President of Mexico, and George W. Bush, former President of the United States.

    Other issues of concern are the ones related to conservation and protection of the environment, the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC) consists of a declaration of principles and objectives concerning this issues as well as concrete measures to further cooperation on these matters tripartitely. In addition, the Independent Task Force on North America advocates a greater economic and social integration between Canada, Mexico and the U.S. as a region. It is a group of prominent business, political and academic leaders from the three countries organized and sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations (U.S.), the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, and the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations.


    Formal relations did not begin until 1944, at the height of the Second World War, which both countries participated in on the Allied side. Prior to the negotiations around the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), economic and political ties between Mexico and Canada were relatively weak. Since NAFTA has come into force, the two countries have become much more important to each other, and often collaborate when dealing with the United States, for example with issues related to the economic embargo imposed to Cuba.

    Currently, Mexico and Canada are close friends and strategic partners and benefit from a very active bilateral relationship which includes ever increasing commercial ties, high-level political exchanges and an expanding collaborative network between Mexicans and Canadians in areas such as climate change, culture, energy, education, good governance, human rights and public service modernization. And more recently, both countries have been building a closer security and defense relationship.

    In recent years, both partners along with Italy, Argentina, Pakistan and other eight countries have sought a reform of the United Nations Security Council and its working methods Which form a group informally called the Coffee Club, that opposes to the proposition of the G4.

    United States

    When Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821, the United States was the first country to recognize it. On December 12, 1822 the then-United States Secretary of State John Quincy Adams introduced José Manuel Zozoya, the first Mexican representative, to the then-U.S. president James Monroe in the White House. Through this event, the U.S. recognized de facto the independence of Mexico and the recently born Mexican Empire led by Agustín de Iturbide. However, Washington did not establish diplomatic relations formally with Mexico until 1825, naming Joel Poinsett as its representative, who had the mission of buying territory and getting trading facilities.

    The Mexican–American War was a conflict that sparked when the U.S. annexed Texas in 1845 and the Mexican government refused to recognize the secession of Texas which was the precursor to the annexation. The war, which began in 1846 and lasted for two years, was settled via the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo which led to Mexico giving up even more of its land to the U.S., including California. Mexico further transferred some of its territories (southern Arizona and New Mexico) to the U.S. via the Gadsden Purchase in 1854.

    In the Reform War, that lasted from 1858 to 1861, the liberals led by Benito Juárez, were given the U.S. recognition as the legitimate government in Mexico. Meanwhile, the conservatives, headed by Comonfort, Zuloaga and Miramón, brought a European Emperor to govern the country, Maximilian I, which led to the French Intervention in 1862, violating the Monroe Doctrine, there was nothing the U.S. could do, as it was involved in its own civil war. Affecting Mexico's foreign policy, both sides, the Union and the Confederacy, were looking for international recognition as well. The Juárez administration was ideologically closer to the Union, but geographically Mexico shared a large border with the Confederacy. In 1861, the then-U.S. President Abraham Lincoln named Thomas Corwin as his minister for Mexico and instructed him to neutralize the Mexican aid given to the Confederates; he successfully achieved this mission. Once the civil war ended, then-Secretary of State William Seward declared that the French invasion in Mexico was harmful to the friendship between France and the U.S., and Washington provided financial aid to Benito Juárez, who successfully expelled the French in 1867.

    Lasting for seven years, the 1910 Mexican Revolution ended the rule of the dictator-president Porfirio Díaz. The war was sparked when the U.S.-supported Díaz was proclaimed the winner of the 1910 elections despite mass popular support for his rival in the election Francisco I. Madero. After the war, the various groups that made up the revolutionary forces splintered as they lost the unifying goal of unseating Díaz —leading to a civil war. The U.S. intervened in the conflict, including the involvement of the U.S. ambassador, Henry Lane Wilson, in the plotting of the 1913 coup d'état which overthrew Madero.

    The 1917 Constitution of Mexico caused several problems with the British and American transnational oil companies mainly derived from the article 27, which declares that "the wealth contained in the soil, the subsoil, the waters and seas of Mexico belongs to the Nation; the right to land ownership and to exploit the subsoil may therefore only be granted by the Nation." Due to foreign pressure, the implementation of the article was continuously ignored by the government until March 18, 1938 when then-President Lázaro Cárdenas nationalized the oil industry. PEMEX replaced the 17 Anglo-American companies, however, the country faced hard retaliations from the transnational oil companies, as well as an international boycott that could be overcome ten years later.

    During the Cold War, demonstrating independence from the United States, Mexico supported the Cuban government during the 1960s, the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua during the late 1970s, and leftist revolutionary groups in El Salvador during the 1980s.

    The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect on January 1, 1994, which led to the elimination of tariffs and other trade barriers between Mexico and the U.S. and serves as a multilateral platform for cooperation between both countries. The agreement increased trade volume and cooperation in both countries. The free trade agreement has been increasingly opposed by Mexican and U.S. farmers, with many groups and the political left presenting that it hurts the interest of traditional, small and local farmers in both countries. Allegations of violations of labor and environmental laws have been considered by the trilateral institutions. The Bush Administration argued that NAFTA had had modest positive impacts on all three member countries, but Mexican farmers have strongly criticized the effects of the agreement as they have become overshadowed by the large corporations benefiting from NAFTA. Notable bilateral trade disputes relate to trucking, tuna, sweeteners and anti-dumping measures.

    Migration, border security and trade issues have dominated the bilateral relationship in recent years. In September 2006, Congress approved the Secure Fence Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-367) to authorize the construction of a border fence and other barriers along 700 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. In March 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton officially visited Mexico to discuss issues of concern for both countries, specifically the ones related to drug trafficking and U.S. financial support in the Mexican drug war. Another persistent and growing problem is the international parental kidnapping of children to Mexico by non-custodial parents and family members. Mexico is the most common destination for parents that have abducted their children across international borders with the vast majority of those children coming from the United States.


    Mexico is an observer of several regional organizations such as the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) and the Andean Community of Nations (CAN). Former President of Argentina Néstor Kirchner expressed, during a state visit in Mexico City, that Mexico should become a full member of Mercosur, other Latin American leaders such as Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Tabaré Vázquez share this vision and have extended the invitation, the latter emphasized Mexico's key role in integration of Latin America and the Caribbean and stated that:


    Mexico was the first Latin American country to sign a partnership agreement with the European Union (EU), in 1997, composed by 15 members at the time. The agreement entered into force in July 2000 and has considerably strengthened bilateral relations between the two partners. It governs all relations between them, including a regular high-level political dialogue, and shared values such as democracy and human rights.

    United Nations

    Mexico is the tenth largest contributor to the United Nations (UN) regular budgets. Currently, it is a member of eighteen organizations arisen from the General Assembly, Economic and Social Council and other specialized organizations of the UN.

    Mexico has served as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) three times (1946, 1982–83, 2002–03). On October 17, 2008, picking up 185 votes, it was elected to serve as a non-permanent member for the fourth time, from January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2010. Since April 1, Mexico holds the rotative presidency of the UNSC.

    In recent years, the need of reforming the UNSC and its working methods has been widely impulsed by Mexico, with the support of Canada, Italy, Pakistan and other nine countries. And have formed a movement informally called the Coffee Club, created in the 1990s, which highly opposes to the reform that the Group of Four (G4) suggests.

    In line with the Castañeda Doctrine of new openness in Mexico's foreign policy, established in the early first decade of the 21st century, some political parties have proposed an amendment of the Constitution in order to allow the Mexican army, air force or navy to collaborate with the UN in peacekeeping missions.

    Organization of American States

    As a founding member of the Organization of American States (OAS), Mexico has actively participated in the intergovernmental organization. Since the creation of the OAS, Mexico always promoted to include more principals related to international cooperation and less military aspects, its position was based on the principles of non-intervention and the pacific resolution of disputes. In addition, Mexico favored the membership of Canada in 1989 and Belize and Guatemala in 1991.

    In 1964, under U.S. pressure, the OAS required all member countries to break off diplomatic ties with Cuba. Mexico refused, condemned the Bay of Pigs invasion, and did not support the expulsion of Cuba from the OAS. Years later, Mexico strongly opposed to the creation of a military alliance within the OAS framework, and condemned the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989.

    Under the Fox administration, the candidacy of then-Secretary of Foreign Affairs Luis Ernesto Derbez for the Secretary General of the OAS was highly promoted. It eventually failed but brought a diplomatic crisis with Chile and harsh critics from the Mexican public opinion when Derbez had announced that he would no longer compete against José Miguel Insulza but the Mexican delegation abstained despite being previously agreed that it would vote for the Chilean candidate.

    Mega-Diverse Countries

    The megadiverse countries are a group of countries that harbor the majority of the Earth's species and are therefore considered extremely biodiverse and therefore are of utmost priority on the global environmental agenda. Conservation International identified 17 megadiverse countries in 1998, most are located in or have territories in the tropics.

    In 2002, Mexico formed a separate organization named Like-Minded Megadiverse Countries, consisting of countries rich in biological diversity and associated traditional knowledge. This organization includes a different set of involved megadiverse countries than those identified by Conservation International.

    Participation in international organizations

  • Regional Organizations:
  • International and Multilateral Organizations:
  • Free trade agreements

    Ordered by date, the free trade agreements Mexico has entered into are:

  • 1994: North American Free Trade Agreement (Canada and the United States).
  • 1995: G3 Free Trade Agreement with Colombia and Venezuela (Venezuela withdrew in 2006).
  • 1995: Free Trade Agreement with Bolivia (terminated in 2010).
  • 1995: Free Trade Agreement with Costa Rica.
  • 1998: Free Trade Agreement with Nicaragua.
  • 1999: Free Trade Agreement with Chile.
  • 2000: Free Trade Agreement with the European Union.
  • 2000: Free Trade Agreement with Israel.
  • 2001: Free Trade Agreement with the Northern Triangle (Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras).
  • 2001: Free Trade Agreement with the European Free Trade Association (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland).
  • 2004: Free Trade Agreement with Uruguay.
  • 2005: Agreement for the Strengthening of the Economic Partnership with Japan.
  • 2011: Unifying Free Trade Agreement with Central America (participating Central American nations include Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua).
  • 2012: Free Trade Agreement with Peru.
  • 2014: Pacific Alliance (Chile, Colombia, and Peru)
  • 2014: Free Trade Agreement with Panama.
  • 2015: Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement with Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States (Withdrawn), and Vietnam (pending ratification by Congress).
  • Illicit drugs

    Mexico remains a transit and not a cocaine production country. Methamphetamine and cannabis production do take place in Mexico and are responsible for an estimated 80% of the methamphetamine on the streets in the United States, while 1,100 metric tons of marijuana are smuggled each year from Mexico.

    In 1990 just over half the cocaine imported into the U.S. came through Mexico, by 2007 that had risen to more than 90 percent, according to U.S. State Department estimates. Although violence between drug cartels has been occurring long before the war began, the government used its police forces in the 1990s and early first decade of the 21st century with little effect. That changed on December 11, 2006, when newly elected President Felipe Calderón sent 6,500 federal troops to the state of Michoacán to put an end to drug violence there. This action is regarded as the first major retaliation made against cartel operations, and is generally viewed as the starting point of the war between the government and the drug cartels. As time progressed, Calderón continued to escalate his anti-drug campaign, in which there are now well over 25,000 troops involved. During the Calderón administration, the Mexican government has spent approximately US$7 billion in an 18-month-old campaign against drug cartels. It is estimated that during 2006, there were about 2,000 drug-related violent deaths, about 2,300 deaths during 2007, and more than 6,200 people by the end of 2008. Many of the dead were gang members killed by rivals or by the government, some have been bystanders.

    Drug trafficking is acknowledged as an issue with shared responsibilities that requires coordinated measures by the U.S. and Mexico. In March 2009, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, when officially visited Mexico City, stated that:

    Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade. Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the deaths of police officers, soldiers and civilians.

    Illegal migration

    Almost a third of all immigrants in the U.S. were born in Mexico, being the source of the greatest number of both authorized (20%) and unauthorized (56%) migrants who come to the U.S. every year. Since the early 1990s, Mexican immigrants are no longer concentrated in California, the Southwest, and Illinois, but have been coming to new gateway states, including New York, North Carolina, Georgia, Nevada, and Washington, D.C., in increasing numbers. This phenomenon can be mainly attributed to poverty in Mexico, the growing demand for unskilled labor in the U.S., the existence of established family and community networks that allow migrants to arrive in the U.S. with people known to them.

    The framework of U.S. immigration law has largely remained the same since 1965. The U.S. economy needs both high-skilled and low-skilled immigrant workers to remain competitive and to have enough workers who continue to pay into Social Security and Medicare as the U.S. population grows older. Nonetheless, there are currently very few channels for immigration to the U.S. for work-related reasons under current law. Furthermore, Amnesty International has taken concern regarding the excessive brutality inflicted upon illegal immigrants, which includes beatings, sexual assault, denial of medical attention, and denial of food, water and warmth for long periods.

    For many years, the Mexican government showed limited interest in the issues. However, former President Vicente Fox actively sought to recognize the contribution of migrants to the U.S. and Mexico and to pursue a bilateral migration agreement with the U.S. government, which eventually failed. The current administration has placed an emphasis on how to create jobs in Mexico, enhance border security, and protect Mexican citizens living abroad.

    Traditionally, Mexico built a reputation as one of the classic asylum countries, with a varying attitude toward refugees from Spain and other European countries before and during World War II, from Latin America's Southern Cone in the 1970s, and from Central America since the beginning of the 1980s. However, in recent years refugees who solicit asylum are usually treated as if they were just immigrants, with exhaustive administrative processes. The southern border of Mexico has experienced a significant increase in legal and illegal flows over the past decade, in particular for migrants seeking to transit Mexico to reach the U.S. José Luis Soberanes, president of the National Human Rights Commission, condemned the repressing policy implemented by the Mexican government against illegal immigrants who cross the country's southern border. President Calderón modified the "General Law on Population" to derogate some penalties against immigrants such as jail, instead undocumented immigrants have to pay fines as high as US$500.


    Foreign relations of Mexico Wikipedia

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