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Mexico: Relations with Guatemala
Country Study > Chapter 4 > Government and Politics > Foreign Relations > 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

Last Updated: June 1996

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Mexico was first published in 1996. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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