30+ Years of Freedom of Information Action

About the Mexico Project

Since 1994, and intensively since 2000, the National Security Archive's Mexico Project has sought to identify and obtain the release of documents from secret government archives on United States and Mexico since 1960, and to disseminate those records through publications, conferences and the Archive's Web site. In order to obtain the declassified documents, we use the Freedom of Information Act to compel U.S. agencies such as the State Department, CIA, Pentagon, Treasury Department and Justice Department to review and release records relevant to the project.

Since 1994, the Mexico project, under the direction of Kate Doyle, has filed more than 1,600 U.S. Freedom of Information requests We carry out ongoing research in U.S. government holdings--including the National Archives, the presidential libraries, agency oral history collections, military holdings, and more--as well as search in Mexican archives such as the Acervo Histórico Diplomático of the Foreign Relations Secretariate. Since 2002, we have been able to consult a newly-released collection of Mexican documents on la guerra sucia (the "dirty war") open to the public in the Archivo General de la Nación in Mexico City.

The Archive directly sparked a national debate about freedom of information in 1998. On the 30th anniversary of the infamous Tlatelolco massacre of 1968, the Archive drew press coverage across Mexico by publishing on the Web and in several major Mexican magazines a revelatory set of declassified U.S. documents including U.S. embassy reporting on the massacre and the CIA's analysis of the Mexican security forces' responsibility. Those newsmaking Tlatelolco documents came from the Archive's partnership - beginning in July 1994- with the Mexican newsmagazine Proceso, to open U.S. files on the past three decades of U.S.-Mexican relations. Kate Doyle's column in Proceso called Archivos Abiertos (or, Open Archives) was launched in 2003. The series draws from U.S. and Mexican declassified records on a range of issues that have included, for example: drug trafficking and counternarcotics policy, Mexican presidential elections, human rights cases and state repression during Mexico's "dirty war." Archivos Abiertos was published in a monthly basis up until April 2004. The column resumed with a posting on Tlatelolco's Dead (October 1, 2006).

The Mexico Project is actively involved in the movement for freedom of information rights in Mexico--a struggle which achieved its first success with the enactment of a landmark freedom of information statute in June 2002. The new access to information law passed in 2002 represents a vital element of Mexico's democratic transition. The project also seeks to join the debate currently underway in Mexico about the country's transition to democracy--in particular, to support the work of citizens' groups promoting greater transparency, openness and accountability in government. To this end, the Archive works closely with scholars, lawyers, freedom of information activists, NGOs, human rights groups and the press to design strategies for advancing the people's right to know in Mexico. Emilene Martínez Morales coordinates our transparency programs.