Read before rolling into Baja — RV and towed-vehicle permits also new to Mexican officials

By Mike Madriaga,  San Diego Reader.

Oct. 20, 2017

When the Baja 1000 races roll around next month (November 14–18), some Americans crossing into Mexico might be in for a big surprise. Recently, travelers crossing through the San Ysidro, Otay, Tecate, and Mexicali borders in their RVs have reportedly been denied entrance into Mexico; others had the option of paying a new $52 fee.

Getting a permit through this Mexican national bank is possible, but “The process is long and confusing, and everything is in Spanish.”
“This is a new [temporary import permit] rule that just started being enforced for travelers going to Baja California,” said Jennifer Kramer from Discover Baja Travel Club. “[Until recently] Baja used to be a ‘free zone’ for vehicle importation permits [and were] exempt from regulations that are in place for U.S. citizens traveling into mainland Mexico.”
“Snow” and her husband drove down from Canada last month in their 40-foot motorhome that was pulling a 1997 Jeep Wrangler. Both of them are retired and during this time of year they stay warm at the tip of the peninsula.
“[We] only read about the new rules on RVs a matter of days prior to our scheduled crossing,” she said, “[and we] decided to wing it and try [to enter Mexico] without a [permit].”

 

They entered through Tecate and “they didn’t mention anything about the [permit, but] they asked for the ownership on both vehicles and checked that the [vehicle identification] numbers matched the vehicles on our ownership [papers], which matched our [registration] and passports.”
They crossed at Tecate without paying $104 (the cost of two permits plus a deposit for the Jeep) and drove the 1000 miles to their winter home in San José del Cabo.
Not all RVs enter into Baja California as easily, though. “[Worst case,] you will get turned away at the border crossing into Mexico and not be allowed into the country,” Kramer said, if the aduanas (Mexican customs) ask for your permit and you don’t have one.
Kramer’s parents started Discover Baja Travel Club 26 years ago, and she’s been involved with the company ever since. In the past five years she has been the marketing director for the company, which handles Mexican auto insurance, FMM tourist permits, temporary importation permits, and Mexican fishing licenses. “We stay up-to-date with everything happening in Baja and are often the first to let U.S. citizens know about new rules, regulations, and news.”
Kramer said the new towing rules started about a month ago and that “unfortunately the Mexican government doesn’t have anything in writing about the new regulations.” She said that through “multiple conversations with aduanas and immigration at all land ports of entry,” the new regulations are effective immediately and are as follows:
Motorhomes not towing anything are able to get a temporary import permit good for ten years. Motorhomes towing vehicles will need to get the ten-year permit on the motorhome and a six-month permit on the vehicle. The vehicle will have to leave the country within six months or the deposit will be forfeited.
Motorhomes towing accessories (for example, trailers that contain motorcycles or jet skis) will only be issued a six-month permit but will not have to make a deposit. Trucks towing fifth wheels and camper trailers will have to get two permits — a six-month permit for the truck and a ten-year permit on the trailer. A deposit will be required for the truck (depending on the value of the vehicle but normally ranges from $200 to $600) but will be refunded when you exit the country and return your permit.
Trucks towing utility trailers or toys do not need to get any permits. All boats over 14.7 ft. are required to get a ten-year permit. Many of the travelers are posting comments of disbelief on their social media forums regarding the new laws because many of them haven’t been told about the permits when entering into Baja in their RVs in the past couple of weeks. Others are saying, “I told you so” and posting both Kramer’s website and a link to a national bank of Mexico, Banjercito. A permit can be purchased for approximately $52 from Banjercito.
Kramer’s website can also handle the paperwork for an additional fee. “Many of our members prefer to have us handle their paperwork, as the rules are complicated,” she said. “The process is long and confusing, and everything is in Spanish.”
When I asked Snow what she and her hubby would do if they asked for their permits upon entering into Mexico, she said, “I was planning to be a dumb blonde gringa if that happened and hope we could do it on the spot.… I think maybe you can [purchase the permits] at the Banjercito [at the border] if needed.”
Kramer’s website also states another law that will affect a lot of visitors and businesses: “A vehicle [that’s not an RV] can no longer tow another vehicle into Mexico (i.e., a truck cannot tow a car into Mexico). If you need to tow another vehicle, we recommend that you have someone drive the second vehicle across the border if possible and then hook up to tow the vehicle once across the border.”
Regarding the racers and their families driving in with their RVs and loaded trailers come mid-November, “Usually the participants in the Baja 1000 get special permission to be a part of the event without getting [permits, along with other special treatment],” Kramer said.
Spectators for the Baja 1000’s 50th anniversary might not have such clout, though: they are advised to have all of the proper paperwork in order when crossing into Mexico.

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Slim to Help Latinos in U.S. Gain U.S. Citizenship

Mexican telecom magnate Carlos Slim has joined forces with Mexico’s largest university and the country’s human rights agency to hold workshops for Latinos in the United States on how to obtain U.S. citizenship.The National Autonomous University of Mexico, known as UNAM, says the Carlos Slim Foundation and the National Human Rights Commission signed the agreement Tuesday.

UNAM will train 50 instructors who will give 10 workshops at its satellite facilities in San Antonio, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles and Tucson, Arizona. The Slim foundation will publicize the effort through its Acceso Latino web platform.

The workshops will focus on an estimated 2 million to 3 million Mexican migrants who might be eligible for U.S. citizenship but haven’t completed the process.

Migrants will also be taught how to defend their rights. –AP News

Violence Ramping Up Around Vaquita Dilemma

A gang of dozens of fishermen overturned inspectors’ trucks, burned or destroyed 15 vehicles and patrol boats, and beat three inspectors from the office for environmental protection in a town on Mexico’s Gulf of California.The fishermen were angered by Mexico’s attempt to save the vaquita porpoise by banning some types of net fishing in the Gulf -also known as the Sea of Cortez – where only about 30 of the elusive animals are believed to survive.

The office said Thursday the inspectors managed to escape after the attack on Wednesday, but that criminal charges were being filed. The attacks were directed against personnel and property of the office for environmental protection, the country’s fisheries council, and the commission for protected natural areas.

Fishermen lured by Chinese demand for the swim bladder of a fish known as the totoaba, which inhabits the same waters as the vaquita, have decimated the porpoise population.

Vaquitas are caught in the same kind of nets that illegal totoaba fishermen use. Prices for a kilogram of totoaba swim bladders can reach thousands of dollars.

The fishermen in the town of Golfo de Santa Clara, in Sonora state, were apparently angered over a delay approving permits for corvina, another kind of fish whose legal season would normally begin around now.

But experts are worried that corvina boats could also illegally carry totoaba nets.

Mexico has announced that special permits would be needed for corvina fishermen, and inspectors said the fishermen had applied for those permits late.

Totoaba fishermen have mainly cut and run when confronted by Mexican Navy patrols in the past, but activists and environmentalists have warned that criminal gangs appear to be involved in the lucrative illegal trade and that threats have been mounting.

Experts and the Mexican government previously announced a plan to catch the few remaining vaquitas and enclose them in pens for protection and possible breeding.

Mexican authorities already banned gillnet fishing in the vaquitas’ habitat, but that has proved difficult to enforce.

A study done in November by an international committee of experts that used acoustic monitoring to survey the population of the porpoise. The results showed vaquita numbers had declined 90 percent over the last five years, and the study estimated that because numbers have dropped so fast there are probably less than 30 now.

The international committee found that illegal fishing continues, saying 31 illegal nets were pulled from the Gulf of California in October and November.

Experts acknowledge the catch-and-enclose plan is risky, because the few remaining females could die during capture, dooming the species.

Still, some experts say the capture program may be the vaquitas’ only hope. But others worry that fishermen may engage in a free-for-all once the endangered vaquita is removed and thus wipe out other species in the gulf.

Las Hermanas Valentine’s Day Brunch Reminder

Just a quick reminder that Tuesday, February 14 is the annual Las Hermanas Valentine’s Day Brunch.  Start time is 9:30 a.m.  Same place as always:  Crones’ Cove, EDR, Los Viajeros Norte, #31-13 off of Rd 23.  Bring yourselves and your appetite.  Sharron will be tending the Bloody Baja Bar.  If that’s not your cup of tea…bring your own tea. heart Get in touch with one of the gals from LVS or LVN if you have any questions.

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RAFFLE TICKETS

This year we will be selling RAFFLE TICKETS to help support the new HOSPITAL that is underway in LOS ARCOS area.  Tickets are $5 or 100p each.  We hope that everyone will plan on purchasing at least one ticket for the cause.  Prizes are HUGELY terrific.  Probably the best prizes on the Baja.  Many, many people will tell you that they are.
You will be so happy if you win one off these prizes:

A gas stove (perfect for a solar casita),

A low-energy electric refrigerator (perfect for a solar casita),

A low-energy television set (perfect for a solar casita).

 

 

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😉 Please help the women of the Los Arcos area by supporting this cause.

 

LVS & LVN Host Valentine’s Day Brunch

rainbow-valentine2Set your sites on  Tuesday, February 14!  The sisters of LVS and LVN will, once again, bring you a morning of good food and camaraderie to celebrate V-Day! Start time is 9:30 a.m.  Same place as always:  Crones’ Cove, EDR, Los Viajeros Norte, #31-13 off of Rd 23.  Bring yourselves and your appetite.  Lynda and Sharron will host the “Bloody Baja” table, so, if that’s not your cup of tea…bring your own tea. heart Get in touch with one of the gals from LVS or LVN if you have any questions.

PS Some gals have indicated that they want to contribute something to the feast.  If you have something special you would like to prepare, great!  But, if not, no worries!  Just bring yourself!

Donations– This year we will be taking donations to go toward the San Felipe International Hospital.  Local sources report that six women from the Los Arcos area died in childbirth last year because of insufficient local medical care.

Mark Your Calendars for TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 14! 

LHDD-membersonly

 

EDR Lot for Sale

LOS MEDANOS SOUTH

  • Solar lot for sale in Los Medanos South EDR.
  • Includes septic and pad. Asking $2500 obo

Contact: Arlene arlenedian@aol.com  Or, call:  541-840-8398.

For photos go to the For Sale or Rent Page: https://hermanasdeldesierto.wordpress.com/recommend/real-estate-and-rental-property/

What’s Happening with the Gasoline Situation?

pemexbrandIf you need to fuel up your car in Mexico you look for the green, white and red Pemex  filling station(pronounced peh-mecs).  There are no Exxon or Shell franchises; no mom and pop Gas N’ Gos.  Just Pemex.  Pemex, which stands for “Petroleos Mexicanos,” has been the only game in town forever. But, all of this is about to change.

Last week, Pemex–with its issues around reform, steep hikes in prices at the pump, and protesters creating blockades–became front page Mexican news.  And, it caused many of us to stop and think about what a world with limited fuel might look like.  At the same time, many snowbirds and ex-pats began to ask questions about Pemex–How did Pemex come to be, and why a price hike now?  What follows is a brief summary and analysis of the history of Pemex and the current situation in which those of us in Mexico find ourselves.

Why Only One Company?

During the early years of the 20th century, U.S. and British oil companies were quick to exploit both Mexico’s oil and  gas reserves and the Mexican labor force.  This prompted the Mexican government in 1917, during the Mexican Revolution, to nationalize and essentially make oil and gas reserves the property of the Mexican state through a Constitutional Amendment. mex-rev-women2However, it would take another twenty years before Pemex would come on the scene and Mexico would expropriate all remaining foreign-owned and non-governmental oil companies.  For the next half century, Pemex became a premier company, expanding and changing to keep up with often volatile markets and evolving industrial conditions.  They made money for the Mexican state and became a major employer of Mexican workers, offering stable jobs and good salaries with pensions and other benefits to their 150,000+ workers.  Pemex has held this virtual monopoly on the Mexican petroleum industry for almost eighty years.

What Has Happened with Pemex?

In the last decade or so, Pemex has slipped in profitability.  In 2012, for instance, the Mexican federal government received 852 billion pesos (roughly $40 billion dollars)from oil revenue.  In 2015, this figure had dropped to half that amount, only 408 billion pesos.  This is creating a situation whereby rather than make money for the country, the country faces subsidizing an aging petroleum organization and infrastructure.

While a drop in world oil prices has contributed to the slip in profitability, lack of money for reinvestment, general mounting debt, pension obligations and an over sized work force have all contributed to the continued demise of the oil behemoth.  In addition, the Cartels continue to plague Pemex operations as they create ever more sophisticated means of siphoning off petroleum from the country’s aging pipelines.  Recent major accidents, lower yields on existing wells, and the glut in the global supply have also contributed to Pemex’s inability to re-organize and keep up with the times.  Last year they experienced the worst fiscal year in a quarter of a century.

What’s with the Reforms?

By 2012 it was clear that something had to change.  Between 2012 and 2014 there were major reforms to the Mexican petroleum industry.  In 2013, the 75-year monopoly on Mexican state held oil production was lifted by a Congressional vote.  By 2015, bidding rounds began so that private companies could start to invest in Mexican oil exploration, production, and domestic sales.

How Does this Tie in with the Current Price Hike?

Up until 2016 the Mexican government subsidized the petroleum industry to such a degree that the consumer did not pay the actual cost of gasoline and diesel.  They paid a lower price.  The reforms conceptualized in 2012 and 2014 allowed the government to remove its subsidy of the industry and shift the actual cost for gasoline and diesel back on to the consumer.  The hope was that by “liberalizing” (or, de-regulating/privatizing) the gas and oil industry, and, by allowing outsiders into the Mexican petroleum process, Mexico would be able to afford to modernize and compete with prices on the world market.  And, consumers would reap the benefits down the line.  (Time will tell if this actually happens.  Theoretically, however, it sounded good to the majority of Mexicans back in 2012.)

The current price hike was originally slated to begin in 2018.  The start-up date was moved to January 1, 2017.  We can assume this was done because the government could not afford to subsidize the national petroleum industry for even one more year.

pemex-1Worst Possible Timing

Many are criticizing President Pena Nieto for his terrible timing of this price hike.  After all, January is peak driving season in Mexico; President-Elect Trump is threatening to pull out of trade agreements and introduce tariffs on Mexican goods; the peso has dropped dramatically against the dollar and is now ranked the worst currency in the world; Ford Motors will not be building its $1.6 billion plant in Mexico; and, inflation is spiraling almost out of control. President Pena Nieto has been asked, why now for this 20% fuel hike after promising that gas prices would be lower and not higher?  Why now for an abrupt adoption of the “liberalization process,” instead of the gradual process over the course of this year?

What Lies Ahead

President Pena Nieto has publicly said that he is not going to reverse his decision to increase the price of gas.  If he made a sudden policy change as a result of public pressure, it could potentially introduce too much uncertainty over future regulatory decisions into the mix. And, this might scare away potential investors. The Mexican Constitution bars Pena Nieto from running for another term.  Therefore, he has little to lose politically, and, has no incentives to back down from raising prices.

pemex3The wild card in all of this is the protest movement.  The current protests are not part of an organized movement.  Their strength is coming from transportation unions and support from social media.  If security forces double down on demonstrations and take lives or inflict injuries, it could potentially trigger more unrest.  Should an opposition party (Pena Nieto is a member of the PRI), such as the PRD (Democratic Revolution Party) jump on the protest bandwagon, it could legitimize the demonstrations making it possible to garner more support.

It is unclear right now how much longer the protest will last.  A few hours?  A day?  A week?  No one knows.  At the moment of this writing, sources say that it is a “mass display of unconnected protests,” rather than a coordinated effort at undermining energy reform.  It appears that unless these multiple organizations can pull themselves together and get the support of the PRD, labor unions, and social media, the whole thing may just fizzle out pretty quickly.

So, Pena Nieto is in an awkward position.  Does he demonstrate to investors that he “caves” to pressure from street demonstrations?  Or, does he push ahead and inflame further protests, potentially hurting his party’s (PRI) chances in the 2018 race–which is already proving to be very contentious.  The  next few hours, or, days will tell the story.

–by Linda Whedbee and edited by Lisbeth Vincent

 

 

Fuel Protest Updates

Monday, 1/9/2017, noon

Just returned from a run into town.  Forget trying to get fuel at the Saltito Pemex station.  All pumps there are closed.  The Ejido Pemex was running all pumps.  However, the line was six or seven deep on all pumps.  It is hard to tell how long that will last.  The Pemex just beyond Los Arcos and across from OXXO was totally closed.  Kip and Nell were going downtown and said they would report on that situation.  Kip said she had heard airport road Pemex was closed.

The water station around the corner from OXXO (just past Los Arcos) is open.  The Zgas propane main station is also open.  I ran into Cesar (delivery for Zgas) and he said they will continue to run until they run out of diesel for the trucks and propane to fill the trucks. He also said they would remain open to fill small, individual tanks until their station ran out of propane.

Sunrunner Mail said they would also be effected.  Their courier lives in Mexicali. Consequently, all depends on whether they are able to get fuel in Mexicali.

Businesses and restaurant owners I spoke with this morning say they will stay open until they run out of supplies or until employees and customers stop coming.

We can probably expect trash collection services to be suspended if this goes on very long.

As I write this, I hope everyone has made provisions for gas, water, propane and basic essentials. This protest over the gas price hike could last a day, a week, or a month.  Nevertheless, it never hurts to be prepared for the worst.  And, to check in with one another to be sure we are all holding up okay.

If anyone has any new information, you are encouraged to share it here or on our FB page.

Saludos

Linda

Fuel Situation Update for SF

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Sources say protestors may be blocking the access of distribution points to the fuel tankers. Therefore, making protests at the various individual gas stations redundant after they run out of gas.  It still remains unclear how long this protest will last.  My personal advice continues:  be safe and fill up with fuel now. Also, if you require any services that involve delivery to your home (water, Zgas, etc), do it NOW because it will effect them as well.  Just saying.

Gasolina Roja is now at approximately $4/gallon as compared with approximately $3.25 in December.

Heads-Up On Gas

Rumor from a reliable source has indicated that the protests over the gas hikes may spread to San Felipe.  This would mean blockades preventing customers from accessing the pumps.  It is unclear as to whether the station at the corner of Saltito and Highway 5 and the station in the Ejido will be targeted.  It is also unclear how long the blockades will last.  My advice–take it or leave it–fill up with gas tonight or tomorrow and then plan on standing in solidarity with the locals and the Mexican people.  Current inflation, gas price hikes caused by deregulation of the gas industries,  the devaluation of the peso, and uncertainty about isolationist policies emanating from the new administration to the north are creating very difficult conditions for the Mexican people.

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