This is a very serious problem for those owners currently cruising or with plans to cruise Mexico! This issue goes beyond just the boating and cruising community and your help is needed
For the sake of American and Canadian boat owners, the country of Mexico, marine businesses and workers in Mexico, and marine businesses and workers on the west coast of the United States, we beseech you to take a few minutes to send your thoughts to Mexican and US officials, as well as the US media. This is very important, as we need thousands of emails sent to make an impact.
Three hundred and thirty-eight pleasure vessels worth tens of millions of dollars continue to be illegally impounded at 12 marinas in Mexico. Most of the vessels are American and Canadian, and range in value from $10,000 to several million dollars. In many instances these boats represent the single most valuable financial asset of the owners.
I am urging your help in seeing that this injustice — as well as the damage to the reputation of Mexico — is brought to an immediate halt.
In late November about 100 auditors of the AGACE division of SAT (the Mexican IRS), backed by a large contingent of marines armed with machine guns, descended on seven marinas in Mexico, from Ensenada to Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta to Cancun. Their goal was to make sure that all the boats in the marinas complied with Mexico's very reasonable regulations for visits by foreign vessels, and they ended up thinking they had caught over three hundred foreign boat owners who owed big tax bills.
Unfortunately, the head of the relatively new agency, which is charged with overseeing the importation of 'merchandise' to Mexico, is a politico and did not understand that foreign cruising vessels are not imported "merchandise" like appliances or electronics, but rather a very valuable part of the nautical tourism industry. Foreign cruising vessels are not in Mexico for permanent importation, which is why they are issued 10-Year Temporary Import Permits.
Most of the 338 vessels that AGACE claimed were out of compliance were not out of compliance. The problem was that the owners were not aboard, and thus were not able to show auditors their Temporary Import Permits, the location where their HIN numbers were permanently engraved in the hulls, the engine serial numbers and so forth. It did not help that the auditors knew nothing about boats and were thus unable to distinguish between basic things such as boat brands from brands of electronic components in the boats.
Much of Mexican law is based on Napoleanic law, so if the boat owner wasn't around to show AGACE agents the necessary paperwork and numbers, the boat was assumed to be out of compliance, and thus put in 'precautionary embargo.' Embargoed boats are not permitted to leave the dock. Astonishingly, AGACE has yet to officially inform a single boat owner that their boat has been impounded, so many boat owners still aren't even aware that their boats have been impounded.
About a week after the initial raid, AGACE did a second check, usually with marina managers and their lawyers present, and found out that almost every boat they had impounded was actually in compliance with Mexican law. You would think that AGACE would immediately release these innocent boats. Alas, AGACE has said it will take 45 to 120 days for them to complete the paperwork necessary to do this.
This delay in freeing the boats is both outrageous and in violation of international maritime law that guarantees free passage of vessels except in cases where a crime has been committed. The damage can also be seen in the sudden lack of interest by Americans in racing to Mexico, the cancellation of a three-race series from San Diego to Mexico, and American cruisers vowing never to bring their boats to Mexico. The reason is simple: foreigners now have reason to fear that their financial assets and investments can be capriciously taken from their control. Officials of other branches of Mexican government, such as Tourism, have understandably been horrified by this action by AGACE, which they described as "ridiculous."
For the sake of the owners of these boats, as well as the wonderful country of Mexico and its people, I beseech you to do whatever you can to help resolve this unfortunate situation. Time is of the essence, for by the end of the week the Associated Press will be sending a story on this to every major newspaper and television station in the United States, at which point the damage to Mexico could be even more significant and long-lasting.
I want to emphasize that I, like all others who cruise Mexico, love Mexico, love the people of Mexico, and believe in full compliance with Mexico's laws. Please see that the best 'ambassadors for Mexico' don't become victims of the unfortunate misunderstanding of the law by one small agency of the Mexican government.
1) Claudia Ruiz Massieu, Secretary of Tourism for Mexico.
2) Carlos Joaquin sub secretary of SECTUR, which is Tourism.
C. P. Carlos Joaquín González
Subsecretario de Operación SECTUR
3) Luis Lara, a political appointee, the one at AGACE who ordered the audits:
Lic. Luis Lara
Administrador General de Auditoria de Comercio Exterior (AGACE)
4) Lic. Aristóteles Núñez, Jefe del SAT, which is the Mexican IRS, and thus is Lic. Luis Lara's boss.
Lic. Aristóteles Núñez
5) Lic. Sergio Alcocer Martinez de Castro,
Subsecretario para America del Nortes:
6) Ambassador E. Anthony Wayne, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico.
7) Eduardo Medina-Mora, Mexico's ambassador to the United States. Mexembusa@sre.gob.mx
8) Mexico's Consulate in Los Angeles:
9) Mexico's Consulate in San Francisco:
10) President Barak Obama:
You have to sign up for this. No, we do not expect President Obama to threaten to nuke Mexico is they don't release the 338 U.S. and Canadian boats impounded in Mexico. But if the office gets enough emails, the right person may be alerted to look into it. Every little bit helps.
11. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Go to http://contact-us.state.gov and fill out the form.
In addition to these elected and appointed officials, please write to your local and regional newspapers. The important thing is that the word gets spread as far and wide as possible. Mexico needs to feel the heat. Thank you for your help