American Consulate General Guadalajara, The History

The United States Government has had representation in Guadalajara since 1881.  It was a Consular Agency until 1908 when the post was elevated to a Consulate.  In 1960 the post became a Consulate General.

The Consular Agency was primarily concerned with the protection and promotion of U.S. commerce and industry and, of course, the welfare of United States citizens in the area.  Our trade, commercial and industrial interests in the area were quite extensive.  These included sugar, mining, agriculture, banking, cattle, leather, electric and telephone installation and operation, and railroad development and operation.  In addition, many U.S. corporations established wholesale and retail outlets.

There are no figures available to indicate the size of the American community in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s. However, based on the number of reports of births and deaths recorded in a 1908 miscellaneous record book, it must have been relatively large, at least large enough to support an American Club and several church ministers.

In 1916 Guadalajara was the seat of the de facto Government of Mexico that cooperated with the United States in capturing the lawless bands of Mexican armed men led by Francisco Villa who were raiding and destroying towns and villages on both sides of the border.  During this period Consul Silliman, then principal officer at this post, and Secretary of State Lansing exchanged many telegrams about the instructions to be given to the de facto Government.  The United States Southern Pacific Railroad owned and operated the railroads from California to Guadalajara until 1952 when the Mexican Government purchased the part of the railroad within the territory of Mexico.

During this long U.S. official presence in Guadalajara, filled with many positive developments, there were three serious events that stood out for the Consulate General.  These include the kidnapping and subsequent liberation of Consul General Terrance Leonhardy in 1973; in 1985, the kidnapping and murder of DEA agent Enrique Camarena;  and in 1991, Mr. John Jurecky, Consul General at that time, and John Negroponte, Ambassador to Mexico, announced that because of the U.S. Government budget crunch, they might close the Consulate General in Guadalajara, as well as Consulates and Embassies in many other countries around the world.  With this news the business community, the American Chamber of Commerce, and city and state officials began to lobby forcefully in Washington.  Finally, the U.S. Government announced that the Consulate General in Guadalajara would not close, filling the Tapatios with joy.

In spite of these critical situations, the relationship between Mexico and the United States grows stronger, more complex and more intense each day.  Now both governments have a permanent consultative agenda at all government levels, not to mention the many commercial, academic, tourist and family exchanges that exist between the two countries.