There has been an interesting exchange of views, buried in the comments section of our Importing & Driving a Car in Mexico article, that raises and tracks a number of ongoing issues that gringos face in Mexico. These discussions seem to boil down to 5 basic issues:
– Should we (foreigners) generally respect and follow Mexican Laws and rules?
– Should we instead follow our own personal / individual sensibilities of what we feel is right and wrong, when our beliefs conflict with the actions & beliefs of local Mexicans or local Mexican govt. officials or police?
– Are gringos entitled to create Burger-King-niches in Mexico? … “Have it YOUR way.“
– Are we guests here, or do we instead somehow have all the rights that we imagine exist back in Canada or the USA ?
– Does it benefit Mexico and other foreigners to have a small-but-growing group of foreigners who intentionally are ignorant of … and ignore …. the laws and rules and ignore the direct instructions of police and govt. clerks, bureaucrats, and other officials? ( Just where do the “Disney-Land” view of Mexico – where Mexican rules “don’t apply to us / me” – “What happens in Mexico, stays in Mexico” attitudes … lead? )
– What kind of gringo community do you want to be associated with?
Do we want to be known as people who are respectful, using behavior and personal codes that humbly mesh with local, regional, and national rules and laws – or Do we see ourselves as Patriots and Free Citizens, free to do what we think is “right”.
The specific issues that triggered these dialogues were the supposed “rights” of Permanent Residents to keep and freely operate their Temporarily Imported Permit (TIP) vehicles in Mexico – along with our “rights” to have and legally assert Common Law (Concubinado) relationships in interactions with Mexican police and other Govt. officials…
Here are parts of our responses to the questioner:
“Note that Article 106 DOES NOT APPLY to your situation. TIP vehicle owners who have gotten Residente Permanente cards are NOT allowed to keep their TIP vehicles in Mexico, and Residente Permanentes can only legally operate their TIP vehicles when they have a valid 5 day Retorno Seguro permit from Hacienda, to take the vehicle out of Mexico. This official final ruling came down in late February from Aduana Mexico City, and it has been supported 100% in every challenge since them.
The changes in Aduana rules have been simultaneously true-but-changed (updated), due to the May 2011 INM Law changes. Unfortunately, there are many stubborn gringos who cling to the idea that if they continue to have some/ANY INM residency permit, that their Aduana TIP is somehow magically protected.
The legal principle governing this is that the Aduana Law specifically says only Inmigrante No Lucrativa and No Inmigrante qualify to have TIPs. You, unfortunately, NO LONGER have either of the qualifying types of INM permits. Since the “new” Residente Permanente is a lucrativa visa, then there is NO equivalency between the old qualifying INM permits and Residente Permanente under Aduana’s rules.
Gringos with Residente Permanentes have had their TIP cars confiscated since the late February 2012 Aduana rulings.
When we drive our cars with a Residente Permanente, consider that we also put other people at risk significant harm, due to us not having legally required $$$ protection, since insurance companies can deny accident protection coverage due to driving an illegal vehicle. In many states, if we accidentally hit and killed a family of 4 Mexicans, we would owe up to $20 million pesos to that poor family.
Do any of us have $20 million pesos?
If not, then it seems to be irresponsible for any of us to ignore the laws, just to serve our personal beliefs.
Since you (the questioner) opened the door to moralizing, when you incorrectly and non-factually moralized about how the police should not have stopped your spouse, I thought you were open to discussing moral behaviors. Should we remain silent about our peers ignoring and disobeying laws, especially when it puts them and others at risk – especially when the peers ask for advice?
When we choose to ignore the laws, then a good working society uses the option of peer pressure to attempt to get scofflaws to follow the laws – hopefully before they get arrested and punished.
Really, here at Yucalandia, we are faced with a basic choice:
Should we tell people directly and clearly when they make mistakes – and tell them the consequences of not correcting the errors?
Should we hedge our answers – or sugar-coat things- Doling out “spoons full of sugar” so the “the medicine goes down” – simultaneously risking significant misunderstandings due to subtle, nuanced, read-between-the-lines types of communication?
We choose the direct and frank route.
Mexico is better when the Mexicans and gringos know Mexico’s laws and follow Mexico’s laws.
You (the questioner) write what you think the spirit of the law is.
Really, the spirit and letter of the Aduana law with TIP cars is straightforward and easy to understand:
– Temporarily Imported Permit (TIP) vehicles are in Mexico only ** temporarily ** ,
– TIP vehicles are allowed only for foreigners with **temporary** visas,
– ALL TIP cars must either be ultimately taken out of Mexico, or destroyed,
– TIP holders agreed in a signed written contract to take the car out of Mexico when they do not meet the terms of the agreement they signed,
– Unfortunately, by getting a Residente Permanente card, you no longer meet the requirements of the agreement, because you chose to get a **permanent** visa,
– You chose an INM status that does not meet the requirements that you signed-up for,
– Since you did not keep your part of the legal agreement, you are now required to take the car out of Mexico.
Re proof of undocumented concubinato status: How do you prove this during road-side stops?
As such, people in your situation risk having one or both of you sitting in temporary police detention for several days, with no food and no water, until the police can determine your – marital status – and – proof of ability to pay for any and all $$ liabilities – . Is it moralizing to simply answer your questions about legal realities and explain the directly related things about how it actually works with the police across Mexico?
We have friends who have been “detained” this way, and they universally say that it is no fun – except for the one Yucatecan spouse who said she now has a whole group of new friends from her over-night happy-chat session with the other detainees. *grin*
Hope this helps the dialogue move forward, on WHO gringos are, on WHO gringos want to be, and Do we have any personal responsibility for how we are treated and how we are perceived by our host country and her citizens….
As a general rule-of-thumb, while in Mexico, if we start to feel like we are in Disneyland – a place where reality is somewhat-suspended – a place with almost no rules – no restrictions – a place where we get to do whatever we want – then, …. it may be time to pause, and remember: …
We are guests here.
There are rules, even though a policeman is not in sight.
Mexicans may seem to tolerate rude, arrogant, “I know better” (a.k.a. disrespectful) attitudes.
Mexicans (especially in rural areas) are generally very modest and traditional people,
… people who value polite and humble behavior,
… people who do not welcome public drunkenness regardless of the time of day,
… people who prefer smiles over conflict
(be patient, gently smile, … nod-and-smile, nod-and-smile, nod-and-smile… and this annoying gringo will ultimately go away if I wait long enough),
… people who enjoy whatever tasty or fun thing that presents itself in that moment,
(frequently making us late for promised “commitments”),
… people who recognize that a simple shrug and “oh well” look on the face, goes a long way to being content,
(there is nothing that can be done about many of the nuisances/obstructions in life ~ ni modo ~ ),
… people who value, and even treasure, their pasts and their families, and
… people living with enough hope & trust to know that tomorrow will be OK
(and it may be even better than today)**.
All the best,
**… Worrying about the future … or World Politics … or How should we change the world to some more ideal state, … and other Germanic, Teutonic, British, American, and Canadian internal ruminations … do not seem to be a central features of Mexicans … or Mexican culture. …
The Mexicans we know and love, do not sit around having ad nauseum discussions about “solving the problems of the world”. …
Can anything be learned here? *grin*
* * * *
Feel free to copy while giving proper attribution: YucaLandia/Surviving Yucatan.
© Steven M. Fry
Read on, MacDuff.