No Shore Thing

Why Americans can't buy beachfront property in Mexico.

Dear Mexican: What do you think would happen if U.S. citizens could buy land and set up businesses in Mexico as easily as Mexicans can in the U.S.? Might that be a big boost to the Mexican economy? There are provisions in the Mexican Constitution that prevent this, but what is the rationale? Who benefits?
Love Mexico

Dear Gabacho: One of the largest sections in the Mexican Constitution (yes, gabachos: Mexicans have one. We're not ruled by superstition anymore, at least not since 1988) is Article 27, which deals with land — who can own, what said owner can do with it, and eighteen other provisions. The one you hint at is Provision I, which states, "Only Mexicans by birth or naturalization and Mexican companies have the right to acquire ownership of lands, waters, and their appurtenances." Foreign-born folks can buy property "provided they agree before the Ministry of Foreign Relations to consider themselves as nationals in respect to such property, and bind themselves not to invoke the protection of their governments in matters relating thereto" — but can't, under any circumstance, purchase lands "within a zone of one hundred kilometers along the frontiers and of fifty kilometers along the shores of the country."

The motivation behind such restrictions is the same one that makes Know Nothings want to erect a fence between the United States and Mexico: national sovereignty. In Mexico's case, special circumstances inspire the undue xenophobia. Previous friendliness toward visiting foreigners led to the downfall of Tenochtitlán, inspired Texans to secede, provoked the Mexican-American War and sparked the Mexican Revolution. I'm not excusing such isolationism at all — as I've stated before, Mexico was at its strongest when it had a more liberal immigration policy — but hopefully you and your fellow gabacho invaders now have a better understanding of why Mexicans freak whenever ustedes ask for a little bit more, whether it's chips for your meal or half of our territory.

Dear Mexican: Is there a polite way to ask Mexicans about their immigration status? The question is actually unavoidable in my professional life, but it seems to come up socially as well. I'd like to make it as painless as possible for both parties.
Benevolent Border Babe

Dear Gabacha: Yell "¡LA MIGRA!" If they stay, they're okay; if they run, time for fun!

Dear Mexican: Why do Mexicans chain their dogs up? Seems kind of cruel.
The Hound of Honkeyville

Dear Gabacho: Because most municipalities require people to tether their dogs in some form at all times. Mexicans ain't always rocket science, cabrones.

 
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