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Mexican Constitution Changes Affecting Expats

Editor’s Note: Mexico´s Constitution was amended on June 6 and June 10, 2011 in several significant ways that affect expatriates, and we thought you ought to be informed about this. There are issues in the news today that are creating strong emotional reactions among expatriates and native Yucatecans. The difference is that we, as guests in the country of Mexico, must be very careful what we say and how we react. Mexico has a history of being invaded and otherwise influenced by the United States, and for that reason, has written laws that limit that kind of influence. We appreciate and value all our expatriate friends here, and want to make sure that we all understand both our rights and the restrictions we live under as guests in Mexico. As the political environment in Merida and Yucatan heats up with the impending elections, and as expatriates gain more years and confidence living in Merida and want to spend time improving the situation of orphans, AIDS patients, teens and stray dogs, we think it is important for us to know what the rules are for our behavior in our adopted country. Thanks to Steven Fry for investigating and reporting on this issue for us. Steven Fry writes for Yucatan Living when he isn’t writing for his own blog, Yucalandia, for which we are very grateful.

Mexico’s Constitutional Rights for Expatriates

While individual American states have chosen to limit expatriate rights and not honor international agreements like the Geneva Convention, Mexico’s Constitution specifies that the Government is bound by the Human Rights requirements of any treaty it has signed. As some countries find ways to limit expatriate rights, Mexico has increased additional rights and protections to her expatriates. The recent Constitutional changes affecting expatriates are both major and minor. Several wording changes now make the government not only responsible for violations of human rights, but also for its omissions. expats in Merida Yucatan

In another significant change, the Constitution used to only say that the Government “shall have exclusive authority to expel from Mexico, immediately and without trial, any foreigner whose stay is deemed inconvenient.” Now it says “The Executive of the Union, after a hearing, may expel foreigners from the country on the basis of the law…”. This means that inconvenient expatriates are now entitled to legal hearings before they are expelled. (See Articles 33 and 30 of the Mexican Constitution at the official Mexican Judicial website, and use the arrows to scroll between Article pages.)

Why are these changes important? There are a number of activities that most expatriates would normally consider legal and reasonable but are expressly forbidden by the Mexican Constitution. As in other countries, ignorance of the law does not equate to innocence, and the consequences are permanent deportation, and sometimes property seizure. Of course, we imagine that this is something that any expatriate who has bought property and set up a life here will want to avoid whenever possible.

Expatriate Constitutional Restrictions

Since the restrictions on expatriate activities are not intuitive, here are some common activities that might trap expatriates and expose them to liability under the law.

“Only Citizens of the Republic may take part in the political affairs of the country.” From Article 9, this means that visitors or permanent residents are not allowed to take any action that can be construed as being political. For example, in 2008, the Diario de Yucatan, Merida’s most popular local newspaper, reported the story of a young man who had been watching a political demonstration in Merida. As things got heated, he moved off the street into a nearby store to shop and escape the demonstration. The police noticed him, took him out of the store, arrested him, and permanently expelled him from the country for “political activities”.

In a more current context, if as a local expatriate, you are upset or even curious about the construction of the traffic underpass at the Fountain Glorieta on Prolongacion de Montejo (a.k.a. the “Burger King” Circle), you could find yourself arrested and deported for publicly commenting on the issue or even for being close to the protests.

In addition, expatriates, also called immigrants, who become Naturalized Mexican Citizens can be stripped of their Mexican citizenship if they live abroad continuously for more than five years, under Article 37, Item II. Such Naturalized Citizens also cannot render voluntary services to a foreign government, unless approved by the Congreso Federal o de su commison permanente, nor can they accept or use foreign government titles of nobility (no fealty). This may not be something you are considering, but in case you are, it is good to know.

Finally, Article 32 of the Constitution bans immigrants, foreigners, and even naturalized citizens of Mexico from serving as Mexican-flagged airline crews or ship crews, Military Officers, or chiefs of seaports and airports.

Expats at lunch in Telchac Puerto Yucatan MexicoThis list of requirements and restrictions is not meant to cover all legal restrictions for expatriates, but it is a simple guide to avoiding unnecessary problems in these recent times of political and legal turmoil.

As a final note, even though “inconvenient” expatriates now get a legal hearing when accused of participating in political activities, there is no guarantee that the expat will win this hearing. especially if they get involved in political issues, make public political statements, or stick around witnessing protests over road and bridge constructions. As expatriates, we will have opinions. Any efforts at voicing those opinions or attempting to influence the government or Mexican citizens based on our opinions must not be taken lightly.

If you want more information on the changes, the Mexican Supreme Court has assembled a list of the changes at Reformas Constitucionales en Materia de Amparao y Derechos Humanos Publicadas en Junio de 2011. Read it in the original Spanish, and if you have any question about it, we suggest you contact a respected local lawyer or notario who speaks English to interpret it for you personally.

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41 Responses to “Mexican Constitution Changes Affecting Expats”

  1. So you are saying if I happen to see a protest I can be deported ??? This sounds pretty lame. If this is correct , have fun in paradise . Tom

  2. The article states, among other items of ‘interest’, that “…while individual American states have chosen to limit expatriate rights and not honor international agreements like the Geneva Convention…” What!? I am at a loss.
    I cannot think of one US state which ‘has chosen’ to limit expatriate rights, and please, don’t say “Arizona”! The law enacted by the State of Arizona in its simplest and most complicated form gives its law enforcement agents the authority to validate anyone’s legal status in that state and hence within the United States.
    In the event you are not aware, if one is not a citizen of the US, it is illegal to be in the United States unless and until one has demonstated an ability to honor the protocols which permit entry to the US in the first place: i.e.: passport, immigration processes; visa; work permits, etc.
    Just try getting a real job in Mexico without the proper credentials… try to enter Merida via the airport without a passport and immigration approval…
    Furthermore, individual states do not have a say in the matter of the Geneva Convention: that is a federal matter and membership is a national choice prompted by an international treaty signed many years ago. All states ‘honor’ this Convention (whenever and wherever it applies) because the federal government mandates it.
    The implication of your statement suggests that some states are “waterboarding” illegals…whatever their nationality.
    I watched some of the fountain protests…got bored with the matter and walked back to my rented auto. No “Manos arriba, gringo!” But your comments did remind me of the amount of bureaucratic paperwork required to rent my car, including passport, DL, where I was staying, and a compulsory purchase of the renter’s insurance…unless I had a letter from my insurance company and/or credit card company stating they would pay for any/all damages/losses should I decide to drive the car into a cenote.
    Bad article, in my opinion. Leaves a bad taste on both ends of the tongue and both sides of the border.
    Next you’ll be attempting to tell us that only Mexican military and/or law enforcement individuals can legally own and/or possess pistols, rifles and related assets while certain US states are selling same to illegals (see above)…

  3. As my Grandmother used to say, ” Keep your Nose Clean and Mind your own Business.”

  4. Tom…. the article said “watching” a protest, as in being a bystander at the site of the protest. As an expat, living here, I know better than to go anywhere near a political rally or protest, even to watch. Or to comment on political activities. I have known this as long as I have lived here (7 years). I know I am a guest in this country. What I don´t understand is why many expats think they have the “right” to get involved in local political issues. Steering clear of political issues makes it lots easier to “have fun in paradise”.

  5. Very interesting and appropriate as well. I have always been aware that I am here as a guest of the Mexican people. And they have been excellent hosts. Thanks, Yucatan.

  6. So would our efforts in the beach communities to improve the situation with trash disposal and animals qualify as a political activity? Sometimes dealing with local governments in those efforts…

  7. Tom,
    Fortunately, just seeing a protest would not qualify as a political action. The young man mentioned above was perceived to be participating and then leaving the area when he thought he had gone too far.

    As feint-of-heart foreign travelers, we steer away from protest gatherings in pretty much any country.

  8. Hi David,
    My hearty apologies for an attempt at humor that fell flat.

    I made a poor reference to Texans legitimate choice to not agree to the Geneva Convention.

    Mexico’s Constitutional change is a good help to all foreigners visiting here, extending them the right to a hearing when accused of participating in political activities.

    All the best to you,

  9. Hi Lynette,
    Long time, no hear.

    Good Question. I don’t know the answer. I kind of remember some good clarifying quotes on Yolisto about 2 years ago from a local attorney, explaining why he thought that foreigner’s inquiries about local services (like trash pick-ups) were within our rights, but I don’t have access to Yolisto’s records or search engine. To help the search, I think either Katie or jiminchelem reported their attorney’s advice.
    Good to hear from you!

  10. To give some additional perspective to the most recent changes, the Mexican Constitution and Immigration Laws continue to be revised with changes that benefit both visitors and temporary residents, making Mexico even more tourist and guest friendly.

    For example, the Constitutional changes and the recent New Law governing Immigration both give immigrants and refugees many more protections and rights. The new Immigration Law also reduces the requirements for becoming a Temporary Resident or Permanent Resident, with specific benefits & allowances for retired people on pensions. These changes open the doors even wider to retiring Baby Boomers who want to escape snowy winters.

  11. As a resident of Merida, and a practicing attorney in the United States for 32 years, I would strongly suggest that whoever wrote this article — or at least some portions of it — stick to discussing hammocks and tacos instead. This is the Republic of Mexico, folks, not Nazi Germany. Anybody lawfully in the country, as a tourist, or as an FM2/FM3 holder, is most certainly entitled to “have an opinion” about political matters, and to freely express it. Of course, it may not always be wise to do so, because citizens of any country may become a bit defensive when a “foreigner” offers his/her unsolicited ideas about things political in nature. But you’re not going to get deported for it, for God’s sake. Can you vote? Of course not. Can you formally join a political party? No. Can you stop and watch a protest or march in progress? Absolutely. Stop scaring people, stop playing constitutional lawyer, and above all, stop giving Mexico a bad — and very inaccurate — reputation.

  12. Paradise is not perfect……

  13. Lic. Byrne,
    It is really good to hear an attorney’s US perspective on this. I agree that Mexican officials are fair and even-handed and not draconian, but I am stuck with 2 items that you might help us ordinary folks understand.

    First, there are precedents that show expats being deported for reportedly expressing political opinions publicly, since “only citizens of the (Mexican) Republic are allowed to assemble peaceably to take part in the political affairs of the country”. These precedents reportedly hinged on expats voicing their political opinions while with groups of people in public, groups that government officials deemed to affect political affairs.

    You say you believe tourists are entitled to freely express an opinion about political matters. But how can a typical tourist determine which gatherings do not affect the political affairs of the country and which ones do?

    Secondly, how do officials determine who is part of a peaceable assembly and who is not? How do officials determine between “participants” and curious bystanders who walked up and just stood there listening?

    We offer these explanations of the new rights of expatriates to a legal hearing before deportation, and caution them about what past actions have gotten some expats deported. We do this solely for informational purposes to help expatriates and tourists avoid problems, not as legal advice.

    Any legal insights you can give us will be much appreciated.

  14. To David Dial: the reference was clearly to Texas’ recent execution of a Mexican who, on his arrest, had not been informed of, and was unaware of, his right to, consultation with a Mexican consular official, nor was Mexico informed of his arrest. (The criminal had been brought illegally into the US as a very young person by his parents.) The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled, not on the substance of the case, but as to whether a further stay of execution would allow the US Congress to pass a law that would somehow require all states to respect the Geneva Convention on this matter. Despite your common sense view that all states have to respect that Convention, a treaty obligation, Texas did not.

    To Lic. Byrne, for all your 32 years of law in the US, you might want to reread the new two articles of the Mexican Constitution, ponder them, and realize that you are off-base. In the course of stopping and watching a politically sensitive demonstration, one could quite well be swept up in a police action, be adjudged as a participant, and be subject to summary deportation. Well, maybe not “summary” if you do in fact get the Constitutionally promised hearing, but don’t count on it.

    There’s nothing Nazi Germany-like about Mexico, but the Government here believes it has historical reason to be very sensitive about protecting its national sovereignty, particularly from Americans (and, I suppose, the French).

    Getting back to DD: What would be incorrect about noting that LEGAL private ownership of arms is restricted in Mexico, and that the US is the principal source of such arms (including, as exposed first by CBS, for the past several years with Justice’s ATF encouraging arms sales to Mexican narcotrafficantes!)?

  15. What a fun dialogo!

    I just realized that with so many voices on the internet, credibility issues rear their heads. It can be difficult to believe what you read, especially if you don´t know the author´s background. Here’s a little bit about me.

    I´ve had personal stakes in these issues for roughly 25 years, as a consultant on international environment programs. Environmental issues can be nearly as political as debt-ceiling discussions. I have worked on both government and private environmental evaluations and cleanups across the USA, in Mexico, Canada, Italy, Scotland, and Ukraine. As we went into each country, we were given detailed briefings by the US State Department about what was allowed and what we should avoid doing.

    The briefings for Mexico were very clear: quickly walk away from any protests or public gatherings that dealt with political matters, and avoid discussing politics in public or giving opinions on any government matter or project. All questions were to be referred-to and passed-off to the group’s Press Officer or spokesperson.

    Before writing this article, I also discussed the recent Constitutional changes, and what they mean for ex-pats, with a former State Department official. During his 25 years at the State Dept., he held various international posts and did business in many countries, including 2 stints in Mexico. This gentleman is fluent in both Spanish and Government-speak.

    He offered some good precise perspectives. He definitively concluded that the current Articles 9 and 33 of the Mexican Constitution prohibit foreigners from participating in public gatherings that affect political affairs, including construction projects etc., that are part of the political process, governance, or government operations. He explained that any ex-pat public criticisms of government projects or government actions would put that ex-pat at risk of deportation.

    The world of expats is wonderfully diverse, and full of opinions, and I am tickled pink that this article is getting people to think about: what’s allowed, what’s prohibited, and what each of us would like to happen.

  16. To Dr. Steven Fry,
    When you say “there are precedents that show expats being deported [from Mexico] for reportedly expressing political opinions publicly . . .,” my response to you is, and precisely what precedents are those? With all due respect, please show me your exact source(s) of information, or give me names, dates, events, other specifics, SOMETHING! If I were to tell you that there are legal precedents which say just the opposite of what you contend, you would justifiably and logically ask me to give you my citations of authority, right? Just saying “there are precedents” tells me, as an experienced attorney, absolutely nothing – other than that you may have chosen to accept a certain line of argument, even though it may be without factual support.

    And to “Alan from Merida,”
    I have read, sir, the exact Mexican constitutional provisions of which you wrote – and I understand them. I also have taught constitutional law, and been published in American legal journals on constitutional law topics. I suspect it is you, Alan, who is “way off base.” IF I’m wrong, why not tell the other readers, in detail, exactly what your legal experience and qualifications are? Or are you just another person “with an opinion.” Opinions outside of the experience of the opinion holder are useless.

    One of the reasons that motivated me to write in the first place was the amazing tendency that people have to think they are automatically experts on anything and everything related to law. There are a zillion and one things I know nothing about, including the Mayan language, obstetrics, astronomy, cat grooming, the best way to make an apple pie, how to land a 747 on a dark runway, handy tips for home canning, etc. But I do know about law, and I do read, write and speak Spanish considerably more fluently than the typical gringo expat I have encountered here thus far.

    I stand by my legal opinions as previously stated. And speaking of opinions, even political ones, I have a few of my own. It is not illegal for me to express them – in other words, to think thoughts and to say words! – while I am a resident of Mexico. If someone else wants to indulge nightmarish fantasies of George Orwell’s 1984, have it, but I won’t do so. Many Mexicans died in many wars – most of them launched by foreign invaders – to secure basic freedom of expression here, and it was intended to protect everyone, whether citizen or not. Democracy is alive and well and flourishing in Mexico, and we foreigners should not misrepresent the truth about it.

  17. “Only Citizens of the Republic may take part in the political affairs of the country.”

    How UNLIKE what ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS are allowed to do in the United States, such as reconquista of the U. S. Southwest and passage of the Dream Act.

  18. Lic. Byrnes,
    We had to turn a shovelful of earth to find the most recent notable deportation of a foreigner for perceived political activities: Gianni Proiettis, an expat anthropology professor at the Autonomous University of Chiapas (UNACH), was arrested on April 15 and deported on April 16, 2011. Before the Constitutional change, INM et al did not have to give any reason for deporting a foreigner. This means that we have to rely on press reports after the fact, where only one side of the story is told, because El Gobierno de México was not previously required to explain deportations.

    According to La Jornada, professor Proiettis’ only offense was to be “fortuitously” photographed in Cancun “near a group that was protesting against President Felipe Calderón at the world summit on climate change”. Proiettis was picked-up by government agents, interrogated, and released. He was re-arrested several days later and accused of being an “alleged narcomenudista“, but Mexican officials reassuringly stated ‘’(His arrest) was due to confusion” and he was released again. Four months later, when professor Proiettis had his final FM2 renewal appointment, he was arrested and deported, with no official reason given. Professor Proiettis and press reports describe the only factual justification for deporting him was his documented proximity to a protest of Calderon at the world summit on climate change.

    In spite of the delay between his alleged offense and his arrest, which muddies the waters, the Mexican government demonstrates that it deports “inconvenient” foreigners who have been seen near demonstrations.

    This sequence of events offer yet another caution to foreigners. Professor Proiettis recounts that four months elapsed between being photographed near the Cancun protests and his ultimate arrest and deportation. He was given no notice or warning in the intervening four months. Proiettis reports: “On April 14 the (INM) delegate called me and said: ‘Can you come in tomorrow, Friday the 15th at half past ten, to make the last step (of your FM2 renewal)?”… words that many of us enjoy hearing.

    This innocuous request by INM, as part of his routine annual FM2 renewal, was the only reported contact from the government in four months. This highlights the importance and benefits of the new right for hearing before deportation, since previous government processes for deporting foreigners were not transparent to ex-pats or reporters.

    Clearly, since only one side of the story is available, there could have been other factors at work, but the deported person’s reports and journalists’ reports of him being near a protest are the best sources available in this recent case.

    At this point, I think it is time to wait until we hear from a Mexican legal expert. So far, we have only heard the advice and opinions from the US State Department, two first-person reports and press reports of expats apparently deported for being perceived as part of a protest, a single dissenting report from an experienced US attorney who has no formal experience in Mexican Law and procedures, and reports from expats with broad international experience formally working for the US government.

    This leaves us with the US State Department’s official advice:
    “U.S. citizens should avoid participating in demonstrations and other activities that might be deemed political by the Mexican authorities. The Mexican Constitution prohibits political activities by foreigners, and such actions may result in detention and/or deportation. ”

    Open questions from above:
    How do officials determine between “participants” and curious bystanders who walked up and just stood there listening?
    How can typical tourists determine which gatherings “might be deemed political” ?

    Fortunately, it seems simple for expats in Mexico to avoid anything that resembles a protest or political rally, and it seems similarly simple for us expats to refrain from making public statements that might be deemed political.

  19. Lawyer Byrne writes in part: “I also have taught constitutional law, and been published in American legal journals on constitutional law topics.”

    Really, articles on Mexican constitutional law? If so, I hope that your articles reflect more of a sense of Mexican politics than your current read of the amendments.

    If you are now living, at least part time, in Merida, as perhaps is the case since I see you have contributed to the English language Yucatan Times, you may well provide us with a test case regarding the intent of the Mexican Congress in its revisions to Art. 6 and 33. Your 7/18/2011 column on the Shakira concert, available online under the title “Shakira, a $21 million peso ticket,” helpfully tests the limits on annoying local officialdom.

    But, if anyone in the local or state government is even aware of the Yucatan Times, attorney Byrne’s July 8th column would have made them sit up. Entitled “Violence Over an Underpass Underscores Reality of Gloves-off Politics in Mexico,” it is a well written account, which, however, clearly makes a statement.

    So, particularly if he owns any property here, Byrne is doing us all a favor in seeing how far one can go without upsetting the government. Of course, so far the PRI has been more on the receiving end of his pen, and the immigration office is a federal office, in a PAN administration. So maybe he’s safe so far.

  20. As we considered ourselves Mexico aficionados before the age of 20, we never thought twice about throwing ourselves into the melees that were the manefestaciones along Paseo de la Reforma and in Zocalo in the late 70s, early 80s, and we had opinions that we would share with anyone who would listen. We did not understand the typically polite and cautious reservations expressed by our Mexican novia (now wife) and her family. Now, thirty some years on, we will site these developments to warn our equally overly-enthusiastic American-Mexican son that well, “our Mexico” does not belong to us.

  21. Excellent article. Many of the comments, whining about how unfair it is, or how maybe the article got it wrong, or complaining that the article is negative, need to get a grip. You are not in the USA. If you don’t like the way things are run here, you might consider leaving. This is precisely the kind of attitude that gets a lot of foreigners in trouble. Thinking “we” are superior and know more than the Mexicans, that our laws are better, that we treat Mexicans in the USA better than we are treated here. This kind of magical thinking and ethnocentricity will get you nowhere good.
    It is true that in the USA, we allow non-citizens to assemble and demonstrate. But here, not too many foreigners are shot in the back.

  22. Geneva Convention? I thought it was the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. The Geneva Convention covers armed conflict.

  23. Yes, you are exactly correct. It is the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations that covers protections of foreigners. Thank you for the fine correction.

  24. OK people give me a break. I just got done laughing at the new traffic laws, point in case, the one that defines how much tint you can have on your car windows. Peek-a-boo officer, so sorry to be in violation of that one, can we just peel it off and lets say a 500p fine on the spot should cover it. The last time I was in Izamal, parked across from the gov building I had to leave my vehicle because there were 20 people on top of it demanding to know what happened to their pensions. Whew that was close. So now all I have to worry about is a Burger King, the Vienna Convention, Shakira’s moves and for those that taught constitional law…..what size flashlight is required to keep “ladies of the night” out of your combi at truck stops.

  25. Also, it should be noted that Gianni Proiettis was not just an innocent professor who happened to be photographed in an inconvenient place at an inconvenient time, but also a working journalist for a communist Italian newspaper called Il Manifesto. He famously interviewed Subcomandante Marcos and wrote extensively about the Zapatista uprising, the struggle of indigenous workers, and the climate summit in Cancun. He was also a rather vocal and unapologetic critic of Calderon.

    I still wouldn’t be caught anywhere near a protest. I just think, in the interest of giving people all of the information, that should be mentioned.

  26. I get that a prudent individual may decide to avoid the margins of demonstrations, just in case. Fine.
    But I still don’t clearly understand how this law applies to expats involved in community improvement issues.
    Dr. Fry says that expats should at all times avoid commenting on or getting involved in (whatever that means) “any government matter or project.”
    This appears to capture any and all contentious issues such as the ongoing waterfront rehab program in Chelem, the overpass boondoggle (could that word be construed as “political involvement” in a government project?), trash pickup in Chelem, road construction issues, police activities and so on and so forth. In other words, any involvement at all in these issues or projects.
    Does it also include moves by expats either individually or as a group to work with government officials to make changes to existing programs or projects?
    Does it apply to certain comments made at meetings called by, for example, foreign consular officials?
    Does it also mean, by extension, that expats shouldn’t run food banks, student aid programs, animal shelters or spay and neuter clinics because to do so is an oblique jab at what programs and projects Mexican officials, politicians or political parties decide to fund? And therefore, making a political statement.
    Judging by Dr. Fry’s comments – unless I have misread and misunderstood them – it would appear one could be taking a risk by getting involved in some or all of these activities, although to my knowledge, Mexican officials have never expressed any concern. That being said, I can’t imagine anyone would want to be the first expat expelled for such activities.
    Also, how does this legislation affect either paid or unpaid, citizen journalists which I assume Dr. Fry (working for Yucatan Living) and Lic. Byrne (Yucatan Times) could each claim to be? Or professional, full or part time expat journalists, for that matter?
    How does one square these apparent inconsistencies and still get involved in the betterment of their Mexican community without fear of retaliation?
    It might be helpful if a Mexican government official or someone experienced in deconstructing this legislation would clarify the legality of such activities and where they draw the line when expats get involved in community affairs.
    None of us want to break the law in our host country, but we also want to be able to involve ourselves without fear of arrest, expulsion, or having our property seized.

  27. Short version for Scoop: Stay low key and stay out of any controversy that involves a pitched battle between political parties.

    Finer point, in case “short version” is not clear: Nothing wrong with asking elected officials for improved services, but making public pronouncements that an elected official isn’t doing their job, or that a government agency is “worthless” or “incompetent” or “corrupt” could be getting you into politics, i.e., it begins to go down the path of “this party isn’t good” which helps the opposition, which may get you in trouble.

  28. Scoop,
    Since there are no official pronouncements on what exactly constitutes “any activities” “that affect the political affairs of Mexico”, I think CasiYucateco has given a set of guidelines that is both practical and fits historical precedents of what things have worked versus what has caused past foreigners to be arrested, questioned, and sometimes deported.

    Regardless of opinions of talented expats like US lawyer Byrne, the Mexican Constitution specifically lists these restrictions not just once, which would be enough to establish the law, but the Constitution then buttresses the first cautionary rule, with a second further admonishment, both insisting that foreigners are not allowed partake in “any activities” “that affect the political affairs of Mexico”.

  29. An excellent discussion so far. But I sit here and thing, why are so many of you upset. It sounds to me like Mexico is trying to improve its handling of immigrants, not just their neighbor to the north expats. Also, I just don’t exactly understand why some of you think you can simply waltz in and start all these “aid for _____ ” (fill in the blank). I have a lifetime of working for a certain government where working overseas was common and extended. It was understood going in that you had NO RIGHT to be involved with anything they did. As matter of fact, Italy in the ’70′s was a dangerous place where some were shot at political rallys by the Italian police force. If you were a foreigner, no questions were asked, you were there, you were involved. It was the same in several other nations as well. Even in the USofA, it is illegal to participate in political protest if you are not a citizen.
    Opinions are like noses, everyone has one and they all smell! Credentials do count, to some degree. Best course of action is always out of sight, out of mind. Plus, I look so much forward to NOT having to deal with politics, such a mess here these days! Maybe some of you who voted for this “Hope and Change” could come on back up and enjoy the fruits of your labors!
    One of the reasons (in my opinion) so many expats want to get involved, is they come to Mexico and their eyes tell their brain, this is a third world nation and *I* need to do something. This stems from too many Americans having the attitude they are just sooooo much better than anyone else. I have a news flash… there is little about Mexico that is third world! It has internet coverage and access far better than the USA, it has better healthcare then the USA, it has a population that is willing to give you the shirt off their back were you to need it. I have been associated with the citizens of Mexico since the early ’80′s, and let me tell you, they are a proud people. They have worked for what they have and they are proud of it. Yes, their house may have a dirt floor, but for the most part, the family owns the house and land from which their living comes. They are comfortable and happy with their status in life, they are healthy and well fed. They don’t see the need for excesses, like we do for some reason. Hence, our flawed idea they are third world, poor and in need of OUR help! Looking at our lifestyle, I simply have to ask how many of you are happy with YOUR status? I am not saying don’t help, but help within their world. Give a few coins to the blind lady that sits at the entrance to the church, and all the others that are truly in need in that area every Sunday. Give the guy with the tattered clothing and smells like urine in the square a few coins… that is helping on their level. As you cast off the attitude of I am better than you, and get down to the level (mentally) of the people, then you start to see the real Mexico, the rich heritage, and just how wonderful the people of Mexico are. So, get off your high horse, leave your “savior of the world” cape someplace else and humble yourself to understand this great people. Yep, that means you don’t get your name plastered all over things, but eventually you come to true peace and understanding of what it means to be happy and content at your station in life! Stay out of trouble, life long and prosper, God’s Peace to you all.

  30. For those who think the Mexican government’s restrictions in this regard are ridiculous and ill advised, it might be wise to review Mexico’s history of invasion and occupation.

  31. Amen, Dixieboy!

  32. I so enjoy the lively, intelligent banter this and other subjects bring.

    The US Dept of State continually stressess to visitors and ex-pats not “getting involved”. The only change I see is the right to a hearing prior to deportation.

    Thank you Dixieboy for saying what I’ve repeated many times over to the expats in my Cozumel community. Just drop the “superior” attitude and accept that the country you chose to make your home. It is disrespectful to force your “standards” on others. Don’t like the way things work here? Leave and return to from whence you came that is so much “better”.

  33. Excellent conversation. I applaud Dixieboy for his comments, especially. In my work of advising potential expats on moving to Mexico, I repeat the very same sentiments over and over. In fact, I actively discourage some people from moving to Mexico.

    The last book I wrote was a collection of Mexican people from all walks of life talking about their lives. Their greatest sadness was that most Americans they met expected them to be wearing tire-tread huaraches and sleeping against cacti with a bottle of tequila. So, do people gobble up copies of that book? Nah, they want my (and other author’s) factual guides on how to get their FM3 and a list of how much stuff they can bring down. Sure, I’m happy to sell those, but just wish they cared as much about learning about the Mexican people as about bringing their American stuff.

    Some of them come down with that superior attitude and never lose it. They came to Mexico for a reason. I think it would be wise to reflect on that reason before changing anything.

    So keep up the good work at encouraging intelligent conversations. We can all learn from each other.

  34. After keeping a close eye on what is happening in North America and Europe, I can see why Mexico is advising newcomers of their rights and obligations if they choose to visit or move there, so there is no misunderstanding. I am sure they have studied very closely what is happening elsewhere and they do not want the same fate to happen to them. Mexicans have fought hard for their country and many have died, in order to regain control of their country from foreign influence and occupation. They want to keep it this way. Before people consider moving to somebody else’s country, they should check out their rights and obligations to that country before they go.

  35. This is my first time on Yucatan Living and, if I didn’t know any better, I would accuse DixieBoy and others of stealing my thoughts and deliberately expressing them with incredible beauty. I love the respect I see expressed here. This site is definitely “a keeper”.

  36. Perhaps I missed it, but are there any changes to situations where as expat “guests of Mexico”, we participate in activies critical of policy in the US?

  37. We’re pretty sure that the Mexican government doesn’t care how critical we are of our home country. But again, it’s probably a good idea to stay away from any public protest as a foreigner.

  38. I find Article 32 quite harsh on the circumstances that naturalized citizens may not be involved in government positions. As a 4th generation Chicano, it hurts me to feel that im not considered a full Mexican citizen if so, i will have to go through naturalization like a gringo. I feel that foreigners who have been naturalized for a period of time should at least join the defense force or become police officers and feel obliged to serve their new home. I understand that many Mexican soldiers have died because of foreign invasion especially from the US and France. I would like to go to mexico to live to escape the rush of the Western World. However, i do generally agree that Mexican born nationals should have more rights to gain a job in politics. I do support the new changed that have been implemented however i would like to see article 32 and even 33 to be a little more welcoming.

  39. If you Google the term “deported from Mexico” (with the quotes), you’ll find some other cases of foreigners being expelled for “political” activity, including an American who was helping build a school in Chiapas and several foreigners from multiple countries who were writing about or filming events in that state. For example, in 2006, a Chilean woman who had been in Mexico for 11 years heard about a possible clash between police and townspeople in Atenco and went there to film it; she was arrested along with a lot of other people and eventually deported.

  40. 8 Americans were expelled from Mexico (permanently) last week for attending a union meeting. The April 28, 2013 Zocalo Acuna and May 4, 2013 Zocalo Saltillo describe the details of their expulsion.

    It does happen.

  41. Unreal. Sad that this happens here. I have been here for two years living in a small farming town in Yucatan and I don’t get to see all the things unfold like in Merida. But that’s not to say it wouldn’t happen here too.


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