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• March, 2014
Vehiculos (RFV), which is something like a federal Department of Motor Vehicles. So the same rules applied to cars and boats. The Mexican government was very interested in getting car assembly plants built in Mexico, but since cars were cheaper in the States, nobody wanted to buy cars built in Mexico. They would buy cars in the States and bring them down to Mexico instead. In order to stop this, Mexico got very strict — and remains very strict — with regard to the importation of cars. The cars that are in Mexico illegally — and there are lots of them — are called carros chocolates, but don't ask me why. I can understand that the Mexican government wanted to protect a fledgling car industry, but nobody made boats in Mexico, so it was ridiculous for Mexico to make it hard for foreigners to bring their boats to Mexico. Since the same laws applied to cars and boats, boats could be in the country for only six months before they had to leave the country or be legally imported at considerable expense. In addition, the boatowner could not legally leave Mexico without his boat. Furthermore, a boat couldn't leave the dock legally without the owner aboard. As everyone can imagine, this made things very difficult for foreign boatowners. At one point we had about 50 boats in our marina with expired RFV permits. Some had been in Mexico illegally for years. We suddenly got orders from Mexico City that all these boats had to be out of Mexican waters within 48 hours. That, of course, would have been impossible. By coincidence, on that very day the Secretary of Tourism for Mexico flew in from Mexico City to view our marina. I got all the boat captains and boat workers to demonstrate with signs. As a result, the boats were allowed to stay, but they were still in Mexico illegally. At that time there were just three marinas in Mexico: the Shroyers' Marina de La Paz, the Acapulco YC and our Marina San Carlos. All the boats in Acapulco at the time were in the country illegally, but they were owned by either very rich and powerful people or very important politicians so nobody bothered them. So I was basically working alone in trying to get the law changed. Finally, Aduana (Customs) was given control of boats, replacing RFV. Aduana decided that boatowners could leave Mexico without their boats, but the boats had to be left in the custody of a marina. The marinas had to buy bonds that guaranteed that the boats would not be sold in Mexico. These custody papers were good for six months, and they could be renewed. Alas, the custody papers had to come from Mexico City and it often took so long to get them that sometimes they would arrive already expired! It seems that every subsequent administration invented a new kind of system, each one as complicated as the one before. But as time passed, more marinas were built and the Mexican Marina Owner's Association (AMMT) was started in 1989. Except from 2009 to 2013, I have been the president of the organization. By the time we started the AMMT, the Tourism Ministry (SECTUR) began organizing meetings among the AMMT, SECTUR, and the different government ministries that the marinas would have to work with. Naturally one of these agencies was Hacienda, the IRS. At the time, the person in charge of making the rules for boats at Hacienda was Maria Elena Carrillo. She decided that it would be easier to cancel the custodies — which I was happy about — and have boats get 20-year Temporary Import Permits (TIPs). The head of Hacienda was in favor of the change because he realized that, since Mexico didn't make yachts, such a policy wouldn't hurt any Mexican businesses. Plus it would encourage nautical tourism. Accordingly, the 20-year TIPs were approved in 1996.
The March 2014 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.