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• March, 2014
when a boat is leaving a Mexican port for a foreign country. Only the captain of the port is allowed to approve it. Foreign mariners cannot depart Mexico legally for a US or other foreign port without a Despacho de Altura. A Despacho de Cabotage is for when a skipper is taking his/her boat from one Mexico port captain district to another Mexican port captain district. Some years ago, AMMT convinced the government to allow the marinas to issue the Despachos de Cabotage. And in about 2005, we convinced SCT to not require them at all, which made things much easier for nautical visitors. When that happened, some port captains nonetheless asked for something in writing from boatowners. Other port captains didn't. According to law, no paperwork has to be filed for a Despacho de Cabotage, but the boatowner has to inform the marina or the port captain when s/he is leaving and where s/he is going. If the marina is informed, they in turn have to inform the port captain. Different marinas made different arrangements with their port captains. Other port captains have allowed boats to depart their district with just a call over the VHF. It all depends. Unfortunately, we started having problems. In some cases navy boats would stop yachts and ask for their despacho, not being aware that the new law no longer required them. In order to protect our clients, marina owners such as the Shroyers at Marina de La Paz and we at Marina San Carlos started to issue a document on marina stationery, and gave it to boat captains in case they got stopped by the navy. It has worked well. We have suggested that other marinas do the same thing, but I don't know who is doing it and who isn't. Marinas aren't required to issue such a document, and mariners aren't required get them, but it can avoid problems. I have been reading Latitude's articles on the foreign boats being impounded recently. All of us in the Marina Association agree that what the government did was very stupid and unnecessary, and that it has hurt Mexico very much. Tere Grossman President, Mexican Marina Owner's Association Owner, Marina San Carlos San Carlos, Mexico Readers — Lack of clarity regarding laws and procedures, different officials interpreting the laws differently, authorities unaware of changes in Mexican law — it sounds like a recipe for chaos. In fact, the system generally worked quite well for foreign mariners — particularly after 1996 and even more so after 2006 — because just about all problems with officials could be worked out with a smile and a little patience. That all changed last November when AGACE went hard core. We believe the action taken by AGACE, which is a newly-created sub-agency of Hacienda, was an unfortunate, heavy-handed blunder that flew in the face of Mexico's best interests — which are filling marinas to capacity and attracting ever more tourists. As of February 17, AGACE provided Grossman with a chart showing that 1,641 foreign owned boats had been 'reviewed', 337 had been 'embargoed', and 146 of the 337 had been 'liberated'. That means 191 are still embargoed. The number of liberated boats includes 16 whose owners had already fled with them. In addition, Grossman told Latitude that, on February 17, Aristoteles Nuñez, the head of the Mexican IRS, told her that 88 more boats would be liberated by the end of February. That means more than 100 would still be impounded. Grossman also reports that it's her understanding Mexican authorities are creating a new TIP to prevent a repeat of the recent public relations disaster for Mexico, one which gener-
The March 2014 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.