Friday, August 04, 2006

If You are in Chacala, Mexican Laws Apply To You

I read and ask questions on some of the "living in Mexico internet Message Boards. There are some very knowledgeable people who answer questions on the those Boards, and I consider myself to be lucky to have free access to such a valuable resource.

Lately, however, I have become aware of comments/posts on Message Boards that I hadn't noticed before. That some visitors or part-time residents appear to believe that the laws of the country of Mexico somehow to not apply to them.

Well, the bad news is that all Mexican laws regarding immigration, customs duties, employment/employer rules, taxes, motor vehicles regulations, traffic,drug, and criminal laws, all apply to visiting or resident U.S. and Canadian citizens. And ignorance is no excuse. It is your obligation, as a visitor, part or full time resident or whatever, to find out what the laws are, and obey them.

Examples of this kind of behavior/thinking include:
1) complaints about being stopped by the police after breaking (knowingly or not) a traffic law
2) attempts to avoid the legal consequences for overstaying a Tourist Visa
3) questions about how to avoid paying custom duties on items brought into the country (or bragging about avoiding duties/customs inspections)
4) efforts to work or volunteer (replacing a paid Mexican citizen) in Mexico without an appropriate work Visa
5) efforts to avoid meeting an employer's legal requirements regarding Mexican employees
6) advertising on Message Boards to get someone (laughingly called a "mule" to bring whatever into Mexico, generally in order to save money/avoid customs, whatever.

One really good thing about many Message Boards is that often the knowledgeable, regular posters inform other posters of the potential illegality of their behavior, ideas, plans, etc.

Some Boards seem to encourage this behavior, and people seem to be proud of themselves for acting as if they are above the law in Mexico. People leave long strings of requests for "mules" (their word) to bring whatever it is they want to Mexico. Like it's some kind of clever joke to break the laws of the country that is gracious enough to provide a wonderful place for them to live.

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