U.S. Consulate History

The first Consular Agent of Nuevo Laredo was commissioned on November 15, 1871. He was Mr. Thomas Gilgan, an American Citizen and a storekeeper in Nuevo Laredo. Just six months after he began his new job, Mr. Gilgan was asked by the Secretary of State to live in Laredo, TX due to the closure of businesses in Nuevo Laredo from political unrest and military occupation.

By 1889, Nuevo Laredo became the second most important port for all of Mexico. The office was subsequently elevated to a Consulate General with supervision over all Consular establishments in Northern Mexico including Monterrey, Saltillo, Mier, Matamoros, Piedras Negras, Guerrero, Camargo, Paso del Norte, Victoria, Sierra Mojada, Chihuahua, and others. During this period the office was located at the corner of Bravo and Matamoros streets. A year later the office was moved to an upgraded facility and location on the Plaza Hidalgo.

The early history of the Consulate is studded with colorful episodes of unrest. Many Americans of ill repute gravitated to Nuevo Laredo. Gamblers, gunmen, smugglers and fugitives from justice were rumored to be more numerous in northern Mexico than legitimate American businessmen. Forays on either side of the border by armed bandits and revolutionists were common occurrences. Consulate property and the life of the Consul were frequently endangered by revolutions and uprisings in Mexico. Because of that, the Consul had to flee more than one time across the border and take refuge in Laredo, TX, taking with him all the confidential archives. On one such occasion in 1914, the revolutionists burned the Consulate along with several other important buildings in the city. The unrest and arson persisted until finally, in June 1916, the Consul was ordered to move to Laredo, TX because of a plot discovered to burn the city yet again and to blow up the bridge. During this time there was even a plot to kidnap the Consul! With the U.S. entry into World War I in 1917, the Consulate’s workload increased dramatically. New border control regulations came into effect that year with the passage of the first Immigration Act and Citizenship Laws by Congress. This added considerably to passport and visa work, and the economic boom from the war increased the workloads even more. In 1918 the Consulate handled more than 100 passports and 200 shipping declarations daily. In addition, the Consulate changed its location in the city in several occasions; in 1922 it was moved to the corner of Allende and Dr. Mier and then moved again in February 1922, to Matamoros Street. In 1927 another move was made to the corner of Gonzales and Morelos. There it remained until 1941 when it moved to Plaza Hidalgo across the street from the imposing Federal Palace. Currently the Consulate is located at Allende between Guanajuato and Nayarit Streets.

Following the revolutionary period of the first twenty years of the 1900s, Nuevo Laredo prospered until recently with the very few interruptions. One was the summer of 1920 when the forces of General Alvaro Obregon occupied the city on his path to becoming President of Mexico. Another major incident was the flood of 1954. The International Bridge I was intentionally destroyed to better drain the engorged Rio Grande, but it still became one of the worst disasters in Nuevo Laredo’s history. Utility services were cut for days and the entire downtown area was flooded. The most recent interruption to prosperity and growth has been the violence of the past decade. Drug trafficking continues to be a major problem and the warring cartels have claimed many victims. While the security situation has improved in the past year, people are still hesitant to say that the drug war is over.

Popular pastimes in Nuevo Laredo include bullfighting and baseball. Bullfighting has existed in Nuevo Laredo for the past century and baseball has been around for almost 70 years. The first professional baseball team for the Mexican League was formed here in 1940. The team, Tecolotes, is the longest running professional team in Mexico. It ran until 10 years ago and is now in the process of being relaunched. In addition to these favorite past times, Nuevo Laredo has hosted a renowned cultural festival for the past ten years, bringing in performers from all over the world.