Mexico–United States relations

Mexico–United States relations
Mexico-United States relations
Map indicating locations of Mexico and USA


United States

Mexico–United States relations refers to the foreign relations between Mexico and the United States. The two countries share a maritime and land border in North America. Several treaties have been concluded between the two nations bilaterally, such as the Gadsden Purchase, and multilaterally, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement. Both are members of various international organizations, including the Organization of American States and the United Nations.

The two countries have close economic ties, being each other's first and third largest trading partners. They are also closely connected demographically, with over one million U.S. citizens living in Mexico and Mexico being the largest source of immigrants to the United States. Illegal immigration and illegal trade in drugs and in fire arms have been causes of differences but also of cooperation.


Country comparison

Flag of Mexico.svg Mexico Flag of the United States.svg United States
Population 111,211,789 312,610,000
Area 1,972,550 km2 (761,606 sq mi) 9,826,630 km2 (3,794,066 sq mi)
Population Density 55/km2 (142/sq mi) 31/km2 (80/sq mi)
Capital Mexico City Washington, D.C.
Largest City Mexico City – 8,851,080 (20,137,152 Metro) New York City – 8,175,133 (18,897,109 Metro)
Government Federal presidential constitutional republic Federal presidential constitutional republic
Official languages None at federal level (Spanish is most spoken) None at federal level (English is most spoken)
Main religions 76.5% Christianity (Roman Catholic), 13.8% unspecified, 6% Protestant, 3.1% non-Religious, 0.3% other [1] 75% Christianity, 20% non-Religious, 2% Judaism, 1% Islam, 1% Buddhism
Ethnic groups 70% Amerindian-European (half-caste), 17% Caucasian, 12% Amerindian, 1% other [1][2] 74% White American, 14.8% Hispanic and Latino Americans (of any race),
13.4% African American, 6.5% Some other race, 4.4% Asian American,
2.0% Two or more races, 0.68% American Indian or Alaska Native, 0.14% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
GDP (nominal) US$1.143 trillion ($10,235 per capita) US$14.441 trillion ($47,440 per capita)
Military expenditures $6.07 billion (FY 2006) $663.7 billion (FY 2010) [3]


The United States shares a unique and often complex relationship with the United Mexican States. With shared history stemming back to the Texas Revolution (1835–1836) and the Mexican-American War (1846–1848), several treaties have been concluded between the two nations, most notably the Gadsden Purchase, and multilaterally with Canada, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Mexico and the United States are members of various international organizations, such as the Organization of American States and the United Nations. Illegal immigration, arms sales, and drug smuggling continue to be contending issues in 21st-century U.S.-Mexico relations.

Early history

U.S.-Mexico relations grew out of the earlier relations between the fledgling nation of the United States and the Spanish Empire. Modern Mexico formed the core area of the Viceroyalty of New Spain at the time the United States gained independence from Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783). Spain had served as an ally to the American colonists in that war.

The aspect of Spanish-American relations that would bear most prominently on later relations between the U.S. and Mexico was the ownership of Texas. In the early 19th century the United States claimed that Texas was part of the territory of Louisiana, and therefore had been rightfully acquired by the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase from France in 1803. The Spanish, however, claimed it was not, as the western boundaries of Louisiana were not clearly defined.[4] In 1819 the dispute was resolved with the signing of the Adams–Onís Treaty, in which the United States relinquished its claims to Texas and instead purchased Spanish Florida.[5]

In 1821 Mexico finally gained independence from Spain, and was soon recognized by the United States.[6] The two countries quickly established diplomatic relations.[7] Both Mexico and the United States respected the boundaries established by the Adams–Onís Treaty, but certain elements in the United States were greatly displeased with the treaty, as it relinquished rights to Texas.[8] Texas remained a focal point of U.S-Mexico relations for decades. The relationship was further affected by internal struggles within the two countries: in Mexico these included concerns over the establishment of a centralized government, while in the United States it centered around the debate over the expansion of slavery.[8]

Beginning in the 1820s Americans and other non-Mexicans began to settle in eastern Texas in large numbers. These settlers, known as Texians, were frequently at odds with the Mexican government. Their disagreements led to the Texas Revolution, one of a series of independence movements that came to the fore following the 1835 amendments to the Constitution of Mexico, which substantially altered the governance of the country. Prior to the Texas Revolution the general public of the United States was indifferent to Texas, but afterward, public opinion was increasingly sympathetic to the Texians.[9] Following the war a Republic of Texas was declared, though independence was not recognized by Mexico, and the boundaries between the two were never agreed upon. In 1845 the United States annexed Texas, leading to a major border dispute and eventually to the Mexican-American War.

Mexican-American War

The Mexican-American War was fought from 1846 to 1848.The war started for the dispute of the border between Texas and Mexico. The United States believed the border was the Rio Bravo (known in the U.S. as Rio Grande). Mexico believed the border was the Nueces River. In the 1840s the United States annexed Texas and in 1845 Texas became a state. Officially, however, Texas still belonged to Mexico and when U.S. troops under General Zachary Taylor crossed into Texas, Mexico sent troops, considering the move as an act of war by the U.S. This eventually resulted in President Polk declaring war on Mexico. The war proved disastrous for Mexico. In September 1847 U.S. troops under General Winfield Scott invaded Mexico City. The war ended in a decisive U.S. victory, and as a result Mexico was forced to sell all of its northernmost territory, including California and New Mexico to the United States in the Mexican Cession. Additionally, Mexico relinquished its claims to Texas, and the United States forgave Mexico's debts to U.S. citizens. In 1853 the United States purchased additional land from Mexico in the Gadsden Purchase.

Trade of illegal drugs

Mexico is a major source of drugs entering the United States. By the 1990s, 80%-90% of the cocaine smuggled into the United States arrived through Mexico. In February 1985, US Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique Camarena, nicknamed "Kiki", was kidnapped in Mexico, tortured and then murdered, in what was seen as an attempt by the Mexican drug cartels to intimidate the United States. After one-party rule ended in Mexico in 2000, the Mexican government increased its efforts to combat the all-powerful drug cartels. The United States sends aid to Mexico for this purpose through the Merida Initiative.[10]


The United States and Mexico have close economic ties. The US is Mexico's largest trading partner, accounting for close to half of all exports in 2008 and more than half of all imports in 2009. For the U.S., Mexico is the third largest trading partner after Canada and China as of June 2010.[11] The two countries and Canada have signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994 with the goal of eliminating barriers to trade and investment. Foreign direct investment (FDI) into Mexico has risen dramatically since NAFTA went into effect and in 2008, 41% of all FDI came from U.S. sources. Roughly half of this investment goes to manufacturing. One U.S. company, Wal-Mart, is the largest private sector employer in Mexico.[12]


Globalization is the increasing interconnectedness of people and places as a result of advances in transport, communication, and information technologies that causes political, economical, and cultural convergence. Latin America has emerged from the economic doldrums of the 1970s and 1980s to become a commercial power of its own right in the 1990s. Seeds were planted in the 1980s with the movements towards democracy and free market economies. Mexico has become a member of NAFTA, Mercosur, born in 1988, achieved full internal free trade among member-states Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay by its 1994 deadline.


The border between Mexico and the United States spans four U.S. states, six Mexican states, and has over twenty commercial crossings.

In contrast to the accepted wisdom of the 1970s and 1980s, international firms in the 1990s see Latin America as a springboard into America. Companies such as Honda and Mercedes have built new plants or upgraded existing ones in Mexico to reap the advantages of the free trade that the NAFTA agreement promised. The surge of consumption south of the American border has also sparked the interest of both American and international retailers. After an extensive study of Mexican consumers in its 22 stores on the U.S.-Mexico border, J.C. Penney announced plans to open 20 stores in Mexico and Chile, where the Home Depot briefly had 12 stores in the early 2000s. Wal-Mart followed its initial push into Mexico, Canada and Puerto Rico with aggressive moves into Brazil, Chile and Argentina. Corona is the number one imported beer in America by volume with a 29% share of the beer market.[13]


While it can be argued that the effects of economic liberalization over three decades have been largely positive, concerns are rising in capitals throughout the world that accelerating change is carrying an increasingly high price in terms of unemployment, social dislocation, income disparities, the exploitation of workers and environmental degradation. This can be seen specifically in cases of the maquiladora factories on the U.S.-Mexico border. Cases of exploitative labor, low wages, long hours, and sexual misconduct are evident.


Diplomatic missions

Of the United States in Mexico
Of Mexico in the United States

Common memberships

See also


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Rives, pp. 1–2; 11–13.
  5. ^ Rives, pp. 18–19.
  6. ^ Rives, p. 45.
  7. ^ Rives, p. 38, 45–46.
  8. ^ a b Rives, pp. 24–25.
  9. ^ Rives, pp. 262–264.
  10. ^ Foreign Affairs, July/August 2010, page 45
  11. ^ Jun 2010 - Top Ten U.S. Trading Partners
  12. ^ Jun 2009 - U.S. - Mexico At a Glance
  13. ^ "US Imported Beer". Snapdata. Retrieved 2009-06-04. "In 2003, the largest imported beer brand in America by volume was Corona Extra, with a 29.0%. share of the market." 

External links

Further reading

  • Adams, John A. Bordering the Future: The Impact of Mexico on the United States (2006), 184pp
  • Arbelaez, Harvey; Milman, Claudio (2007), "The New Business Environment of Latin America and the Caribbean", International Journal of Public Administration: 553 .
  • Bosch García, Carlos. Documentos de la relación de México con los Estados Unidos. (Spanish) Volumes 1-2. National Autonomous University of Mexico, 1983. ISBN 9685805520, 9789685805520.
  • Dunn, Christopher; Brewer, Benjamin; Yukio, Kawano (2000), "Trade Globalization since 1795: Waves of Integration in the World-System", American Sociological Review 65: 77–95 .
  • Gereffi, Gary; Hempel, Lynn (1996), "Latin America in the Global Economy: Running Faster to Stay in Place", Report on the Americas,, retrieved 2008-04-29 .
  • Hill, John; D'souza, Giles (1998), "Tapping the Emerging Americas Market", Journal of Business Strategy .
  • Henderson, Timothy J. A Glorious Defeat: Mexico and Its War with the United States (2007). focus on causation from Mexican perspective
  • Hinojosa, Victor J. Domestic Politics and International Narcotics Control: U.S. Relations with Mexico and Colombia, 1989-2000 (2007)
  • Kelly, Patricia; Massey, Douglas (2007), "Borders for Whom? The Role of NAFTA in Mexico-U.S. Migration", The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political Science 610: 98–118 .
  • Mumme, Stephen (2007), "Trade Integration, Neoliberal Reform and Environmental Protection in Mexico: Lessons for the Americas", Latin American Perspectives 34: 91–107 .
  • Plana, Manuel. "The Mexican Revolution and the U.S. Border: Research Perspectives," Journal of the Southwest Winter 2007, Vol. 49 Issue 4, pp 603–613, historiography
  • Weintraub, Sidney. Unequal Partners: The United States and Mexico (University of Pittsburgh Press; 2010) 172 pages; Focuses on trade, investment and finance, narcotics, energy, migration, and the border.
  • White, Christopher. Creating a Third World: Mexico, Cuba, and the United States during the Castro Era (2007)

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