Country Listing

Mexico Table of Contents


Relations with Cuba

Mexican policy toward Cuba has been the cornerstone of its assertive independence from United States policies. Mexico's closeness with Cuba also set it apart from its Latin American neighbors, especially in the 1960s when Mexico was the only Latin American country that did not break diplomatic relations with the Cuban government. Mexico also opposed any foreign interference in Cuban affairs, including the United States-backed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 and the expulsion of Cuba from international organizations--for example, the suspension of Cuba from the OAS in 1962. As part of asserting Mexican independence from United States policy toward Cuba, the Mexican president pays an official visit to Cuba during the last year of his term. This practice was established by President Echeverría in 1975 and continued by presidents López Portillo in 1980, de la Madrid in 1988, and Salinas in 1994. Mexico and Cuba currently hold many formal agreements on economic, educational, and cultural issues.

Relations with Guatemala

Mexico's shared border with Guatemala has led to tensions between the countries. Because of the disparity between the two countries in economic levels and power, some critics draw parallels to United States-Mexican relations. Traditionally, Guatemalans have crossed the border seasonally to work in the coffee fields of southern Mexico. During the early 1980s, however, a military campaign against indigenous Mayan peasants in northern Guatemala forced an exodus of refugees, who crossed the Mexican border to get away from the violent displacement of their communities. From 1982 to 1993, more than 40,000 Maya lived in refugee camps along the southern border of Mexico, creating a problem for local authorities. The Mexican government, at both the national and local levels, was unprepared and unwilling to support such mass immigration into its territory. The emergence of the Zapatista guerrilla movement and alleged drug trafficking in the region exacerbated the situation. The Mexican government was criticized for its neglect and selectiveness regarding political asylum issues. Repatriation agreements between the Guatemalan government and organized refugee groups were reached during 1992, providing for the return of these groups to their country. Repatriation has proceeded slowly since then.

Data as of June 1996