The United States Government has had representation in Guadalajara since 1881 in the form of a Consular Agency. In 1908, the post was elevated to a Consulate, and 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. The United States’ trade, commercial and industrial interests in the area were quite extensive and 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 in the area.
There are no figures available to indicate the size of the U.S. citizen community in the late 1800s or early 1900s. However, based on the number of births and deaths reported in a 1908 miscellaneous record book, it must have been relatively large – large enough, at least, 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.
This long, official U.S. presence in Guadalajara was filled with many positive developments, but three serious events stood out for the Consulate General. These include the kidnapping and subsequent liberation of Consul General Terrance Leonhardy in 1973, the kidnapping and murder of DEA agent Enrique Camarena in 1985, and the 1991 announcement by John Jurecky (then-Consul General) and John Negroponte (then-Ambassador to Mexico) that the Consulate General in Guadalajara as well as Consulates and Embassies in many other countries around the world might be closed due to a U.S. Government budget crunch. 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 made an announcement that filled tapatíos with joy: the Consulate General in Guadalajara would not close.
In spite of these critical situations, the relationship between Mexico and the United States grows stronger and more complex 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.