According to State Department records, the first consul to Merida, Charles Thompson Jr., was confirmed on March 3, 1843. The opening of a U.S. Consulate was probably in response to the Mexican government’s decree, opening the ports of Sisal and Campeche to duty-free import and export. A consular agent was also maintained in Sisal, a busy port town that attracted many U.S. ships. Today, Sisal is a sleepy fishing village with a little more than 1,000 people.
From 1843 until 1897, ten consuls were appointed to represent the United States’ interests in the Yucatan. Most notable was Edward H. Thompson, the renowned archaeologist and explorer of the Mayan ruins at Chichén Itzá. Thompson was appointed consul by President Cleveland with the understanding that he would be given time away from his Consular duties to explore the Yucatan’s many ruins. His book “People of the Serpent” details his exhaustive research at Chichén Itzá and gives a brief summary of how he obtained his consular title.
In 1897, Consulate Merida was closed and the functions of the office were moved to Progreso. The Consulate remained in Progreso for 37 years. Records at the National Archives in Washington D.C. contain lists of dispatches the Consulate sent to Washington during this time. The business of those days concerned U.S. ships calling at the ports of Progreso and Campeche, agricultural and commercial aspects of the Yucatan, reports of missing Americans and reports of contagious diseases in the area.
The Consulate was moved back to Merida on February 1, 1934. The building was located near the “Parque del Centenario”. The Consulate was later moved to downtown Merida not far from the cathedral.
The U.S. government since 1959 leased the previous Consulate building, on Paseo de Montejo at Avenida Colon. The Consul and Vice Consul originally lived in homes located on the Consulate compound. In December of 2001, the lease expired on the property and a temporary extension was signed while an extensive search process for a new location was undertaken. Construction of the new Consulate was completed and is a more secure and functional facility some three blocks from the previous site. The new office building opened for business on November 06, 2006 and is located at Calle 60 No. 338-K x 29 y 31, Col. Alcalá Martín, 97050.
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