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OCTOBER 2012: Finally, Some Visa News

Click on sponsor logos at left like My Mexican Lawyer for more information on their services, or click on the flags at right for a Google translation of the Pelican Free Press. Also at right, check the local weather, the currency exchange rates and delve into the archives.

 

Immigration law published, helps expats

(Ed.Note: The following information is a quick summary of new immigration law pubished by the government just a few days ago. The article is authored by Solomon Freimuth, a Pelican Free Press sponsor, who spoke about immigration earlier this year to a packed house in Puerto Aventuras. This is a follow-up to that talk. Anyone needing specific advice may contact Mr. Freimuth at solomon@lifeinplaya.com. Mr. Freimuth says more to come.)

By solomon Freimuth
      “I wanted to publish a basic summary of the points that I thought were pretty important for the expat community here in Mexico. This summary is going to be, as I said, basic and I’ll try to update some of the more detailed information as time passes.

“There are going to be basic immigration filters or checkpoints at airports, seaports and terrestrial border crossings, very similar to the border crossings now. For many foreigners, we WILL NOT need a visa prior to entering Mexico, because Mexico has signed treaties with various countries that Visas aren’t needed for their citizens. You can check that list, in Spanish, here (American citizens and residents don’t need visas, neither do most European countries):       Once you get to the immigration filter the immigration authority will give you a temporary document that will prove your migratory status. At the time that you are given this document you will be asked the purpose of your trip to Mexico and the document will reflect that purpose, be it work, pleasure, etc. If you plan on staying in Mexico for more than 30 days you will have to trade the temporary document in at the immigration office closest to your home in Mexico.
At these immigration checkpoints, your may be asked to provide your passport, personal information, reason for trip, place of residence outside of Mexico, where you plan on staying in Mexico, who you will work for in Mexico, be that the case, activities in Mexico, income sources and how you are planning on leaving Mexico. It seems to me that this information is going to only be required from you in doubt about your intentions for coming into Mexico: children, families or well dressed tourists and business people probably not get hassled; arriving in the airport after finishing a few too many on the plane might get you an entrance interview. Use common sense.

Temporary and Permanent Residency

One of the major changes in the new immigration policy is the Temporary and Permanent residency instead of the FM3/FM2. This is the part that most interests the majority of the expat community and upon reading these sections I think everyone is going to be pleased.
**On a more technical note, I was a little displeased about some of the ambiguity in the wording in this section. There was a lot of talk about the removal of discretionary decision-making by the immigration offices, but in my opinion that still exists: in many parts of the regulations the wording “can be issued” is present instead of a more definitive “will be issued”.
Lets get into the nitty-gritty, but first, let me calm the fears of all of the expats who had FM3’s before now and were told (by me, sorry) that their FM3’s would not transition nicely into Temporary Resident documents: They will, the regulations made a distinction that holders of No-Inmigrante Visitantes documents (FM3) will, upon expiration of their FM3, receive a Temporary Resident Status.

Temporary Resident

 

The Temporary Resident document will be issued for periods from 1-4 years, based on the decision of the immigration authority. Temporary Residency does not confer automatic permission to work in Mexico, although it may be granted upon request of the foreigner and pending a job offer. People who currently hold FM3′s and FM2′s and who do not fall into any of the categories allowed for Permanent Residency will be eligible at the time of renewal for Temporary Residency.
According to the regulations, and congruent with the law, people in ANY OF the following situations will be eligible for Temporary Residency in Mexico:
People with a marital or common-law link to a Mexican citizen or a person who holds a Temporary or Permanent Residency status; people with job offers, registered in the federal tax registry who are trying to work independently in Mexico, who have been invited by a government or private institution to participate in a non-lucrative activity, who can prove their economic independence, who own real estate in Mexico above a certain value* , and people who have invested a certain amount* in stock in a Mexican company, production machinery or other assets in Mexico or economic activities(ambiguous).

Permanent Resident:

 

Permanent Resident is actually a permanent status, except for children under 3 years old who need to renew their documents yearly until reaching 3 years of age. Permanent Resident status includes express permission to work in Mexico, but changes in employer and updates of activities are required.
The following people are eligible to become Permanent Residents in Mexico (ANY OF THE FOLLOWING): Refugees and political prisoners, people with a marital or common law link to Mexicans or Permanent Residents (after 2 years of Temporary Residency),Retired people*, grandparents, parents, children or grandchildren of a Mexican who acquired their nationality by birth, people who have a certain number of points* based on the following criteria:

  • Level of education
  • Work experience in vital areas with high demand
  • Other work experience
  • Investments in Mexico
  • Aptitude in science or technology
  • International recognitions or prizes
  • Fluency in the Spanish language
  • Knowledge of Mexican culture

*These parts of the regulations have been left very ambiguous and will apparently be cleared up via further publications in the Diario Oficial de la Federación, at a later date.

Visitors

 

The law talks about visitors as people who are allowed to be in Mexico for up to 180 days and then must leave, specifically saying that after the 180 days they must leave the country. This still applies. Anyone who does not ask for Temporary or Permanent Residency at the time of entrance to Mexico will not be able to change from their Tourist Status to Temporary Resident, UNLESS they acquire a matrimonial link to or have another familiar link to a Mexican citizen or Resident. This could be important for people moving to the country, because they will need to make sure to ask for Residence upon entry. I somewhat expect there to be exceptions to this rule, but as of right now I can’t find any. We shall see how this evolves.

Penalties

 

I had heard that there were some tough penalties for non-compliance with the new rules, basically because the time periods given for the documents was much more than before. In my opinion, the new penalties aren’t too much worse than the old penalties, but it is important to be aware of them:

  • If you are caught performing unauthorized activities your document CAN BE cancelled and you CAN BE asked to leave the country.
  • If you fail to notify the immigration authority of changes in your marital state, address or work situation within 90 days of the change you can be charged a fine of between 20 and 100 days of minimum wage in Mexico City (about $1220-$6100 pesos as of September 2012).

All of these rules come into effect on November 12th of 2012, therefore any transactions that are turned into Immigration before that date will still fall under the old rules. After that date any document renewals or applications will fall under these rules.
As I said, this is a very basic overview of the new system and I have left a lot out of the new regulations, mostly things concerning refugees and human rights issues that aren’t completely of interest to the readers of this blog. There will be much discussion on this law in the next few months and everyone’s understanding of the rules will change as we actually get a chance to interact with the new system. Stay tuned.
The original decree of these regulations by the Secretaría de Gobernación in the Diario Oficial is here: http://dof.gob.mx/nota_detalle.php?codigo=5270615&fecha=28/09/2012

Agency slates ambulance, med service in Puebla

The Red Cross medical station in Playa del Carmen has announced the extension of service to the Puebla in Puerto Aventuras, including a full-time ambulance there and a clinic with five emergency medical technicians providing service 24/7.

The Red Cross will be providing inexpensive service for Puebla residents at a cost much lower than current market pricing, said Trinidad Horatio Moreno, coordinator. He said the community is encouraged to make use of the service even if “you have no money to pay at the time.”
Fidel Luis Parra, porteno activist, (porteno refers to a person from or living in a port city), said the Red Cross service is enthusiastically welcomed, particularly the ambulance. He said that in some cases of medical emergencies at night patients had to wait until the morning to hire a taxi for transport to a medical facility in Playa.
Morena, from the Red Cross, invites local businesses to make tax-deductible donations sufficient to “adopt a paramedic” or provide gasoline for the ambulance. (We may recall that an an ambulance heading to an emergency explosion last year that killed several Canadians and injured other people at a nearby hotel ran out of gas before it got to the scene.)

Scofflaw dog owners again a concern

Colonos opens gate to allow dog pound agents

Too many complaints to the Solidaridad City Council about canine behaviors in the resort has resulted in a request by the municipal director of the pound to enter Puerto Aventuras randomly to address the problem. The Colonos has agreed to allow the request.
In the past year, three major dog bite cases have occurred and many complaints, not all of them sent to the council or city council, have been registered by residents.
The Colonos issued two requests to residents, one last January, asking for better management and control of pets in the resort area evidently to little avail.  The latest notice from the Colonos said, “…that the situation regarding the management of pets within the complex has overtaken us.

“We have received a request from the director of the municipal pound to address the problem because the City Council has received many complaints regarding the common problem of aggressive dogs, wandering off leash, relieving themselves in inappropriate places without owners cleaning up after them. Since we can’t oppose the municipal request, we’ll be allowing access for intervention and resolutions of this problem that affects many.”
Reminder: Once a pet has been picked up running loose by a pound agent, the Colonos can’t do anything about it and the owner has to go to the pound to retrieve the pet. (We don’t know if there are any fines involved).
The Colonos asks owners to pick up after their pets, both for cleanliness and for the image the resort presents to visitors. “With everyone’s effort we can keep the environment clean and contaminant free for our children and ourselves,” the Colonos says as it looks “forward to your cooperation”.

Ex-pats, snowbirds await new government actions

      Local anglos may be mostly concerned about proposed changes in visas and keeping the Riviera safe from criminals, but there was much more at stake that brought some 49 million of 79 million voters to Mexico’s national election polls in July.

They chose more than 2000 officials nationwide beginning with the election of Enrique Pena Nieto, returning the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary party) after a 12-year absence. They also elected 128 senators, 500 federal legislative deputies, six governors, the head of the federal district in Mexico City, 578 state legislators and 876 city councils in 16 states, among other posts.
And while early voting in the coming United States federal election is increasing yearly, a relatively small number of voters cast absentee ballots in Mexico’s election for the third consecutive time, most from the U.S.
Last month, the Trans Border Institute at the University of California San Diego, held a retreat and roundtable on the election. It has prepared an executive summary of the proceedings and is sharing it at the request of the Pelican Free Press. We will present some of the findings and discussion in our next issue.

Dearth of Puebla playing fields lamented

      Sports activists in the “fractionacion” say there are 3,000 young people between ages 15 and 29 eager to join leagues and play sports in the PA Puebla (PAP) but there aren’t enough fields and/or facilities to do so.
A pledge to create a “sports city” made at a Dec. 3, 2011 meeting of the city council has yet to materialize and it is beginning to cause anxiety and, in some cases, anger among teams vying for time slots to play their games in the evidently insufficient number of playing venues.
Fidel Luis Parra, president of the Citizens Council of Puerto Aventuras, said “We are very short of sports facilities,” and that talk of expanding them has been going on for three years.
That being said, the mayor of Solidaridad, Filiberto Martinez, accompanied by Puerto Aventuras delegate Jacinto Chuc Pech, laid the first stone of what will be the dome of a new sports facility that, the mayor said, should be completed in November.

Restaurateur says: ‘Let there be light!’

Latitude 20 owner believes
Government can’t do it all

     Latitude 20 owner Peter Metrick has taken a prompt out of the dark side and provided his own lighting scheme on a public street while simultaneously joining a chorus chiding the Colonos for its installation of new but quite limited lighting on the resort’s main thoroughfare.

“There is a lot of dismay and anger in the community over the state of the street lights or the lack of them on most streets, he wrote to the Pelican Free Press.”The bad news is that even though new lights have been installed, there is not much light. In a need to save money these new lights have LED bulbs which do save a lot of money but don’t provide much illumination.
He said that in his opinion, the Colonos administration and board really care about the community and do an excellent job with a limited budget. “As for the Fideicomiso, anyone who knows the history of Puerto Aventuras should thank every God in the world that they live here, and should erect a statue to its founder and head of Fideicomiso, Roman Rivera Torres.
Governments can’t do everything,” he writes. “it is up to us, the people who live here, to chip in and fill in the empty spaces that our “local government” cannot always fill.
Setting his own example, Metrick notes that Restaurant Latitude 20 is located on Calle Caleta Xel Ha, “…which has been pitch dark at night since we moved here in May. From the Main Avenue to the Dreams Hotel, there were no street lights at all on Caleta Xel Ha and therefore no one walked down this street after dusk. It was very bad for business and reinforcing the fears of tourists about Mexico.
“I had two choices: I could complain, be angry, argue with people, make myself sick and shorten my life, and still have no lights, or I could take it upon myself to solve the problem, be happy and live longer,” Metrick said.
Fortunately, there were four tall street lights from the corner of the Main Avenue to the bridge before the Dreams Hotel that were still functional but unused. “I have tied in these lights to my electric system and now we have a well-lit street.The cost to me is minimal. I am happy to say that our night business has increased and there are people now walking down the street without fear. I urge all to take similar actions on your street. At a very minimal cost you can place a light in front of your home or condo and light up your street.”
Metrick suggests neighbors work together to achieve a plan. “Not only will your anger disappear but the feeling of well-being you will get every time you switch the lights on will extend your lives! Let there be light!,” he wrote….

…..Meanwhile, lights along highway here
are dangerously absent, claims an observer

      “I have a safety concern,”  reports resident Michele Berkenfield. “I noticed that there are absolutely no lights at night for employees, visitors and residents of Puerto Aventuras who need to cross from either side of the Federal Highway along or under the overpass.
“It is so very dangerous when waiting for or getting off the collectiv0 from Playa del Carmen and then needing to walk under the bridge and along the grassy area toward the Pemex lighted area or the other way toward Puerto Maya.

“So many women, some with their small children, and anyone for that matter traveling by foot at night from either side of Puerto Aventuras, in complete darkness, are so vulnerable to opportunistic, un-witnessed violent assault.
“Not even cars passing within several feet can see pedestrian activity. This is a huge safety and wellbeing issue in our community! I personally have asked about it and people acknowledge how strange that something like this could go on for so long, but nobody knows who to contact.
“There used to be colorful lights illuminating the highly trafficked pedestrian area, but they are no longer lighted. They have not been on all summer and many nights you can’t even see your hand in front of your face as you walk along concrete walls and tall grassy, vacant land for at least 50 yards.
“It seems that since there is so many lights all the way to Cancun along the federal highway they could pick somewhere else to save energy than such a populated area with so many of us commuting by bus and foot. I am sure everyone wants the much loved members of our community to be safe and feel cared for. Thanks for your consideration and your informative and wonderful publication!”

Snorkeling for turtles cited as threat to Akumal shallows

Environmental officials are saying in the local press that from 300 to 700 visitors a day swimming and searching for turtles to view have placed Akumal shallows “at the gate of ecological disaster.”

They say the preservation of the green turtle species in Akumal, one of the very few places allowing year-round turtle viewing in the shallows, requires the implementation of the Ordinance of Akumal Bay (POBAK) to stunt the growth of over-exploitation in the natural resource.
The call is loud for the permanent presence of inspectors from the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (Profepa) to end alleged questionable practices by tourism service providers,- so-called “pirates” – and the resultant harassment of juvenile and nesting turtles, reef destruction, poaching among other practices detrimental to the environment, to businesses and tourists.

Phrase a week … By Gloria Contreras, state certified interpreter
Where can I learn to speak Spanish? ¿Dónde puedo aprender a hablar español?

The answer is “right here!” Instruction in the Spanish language begins anew in mid-October with formation of a group class on the 16th. Instructor Gloria Contreras announces she will be available to teach classes in Puerto Aventuras from either 10 to 11 a.m. or 3 to 4 p.m. again at the Tiramisu Restaurant. She also offers private lessons in PA and also in Paamul where she also invites group sessions. Group classes are $150 pesos and $250 for private one-hour lessons. She is open to other suggestions and locations.
Anyone interested in learning the language can contact Ms. Contreras by email at Gloria Contreras nanigloria@hotmail.com or Cel: 984-108-3516.
(Ms. Contreras teaches Spanish classes from 3 to 4 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays at Tiramisu Restaurant and all are welcomed to attend. The fee is $150 pesos per session. Please call her first to make arrangements.

Letters…

Creeping commercialism
disregards aesthetics

Dear Editor:
I just read the Pelican Press. I had heard the Dolphin Discovery wanted to expand.  Even though I know the Latitude 20 Restaurant would be pleased with additional revenue, I am totally dismayed.
That lagoon (Secret Waters) is an oasis of gentle, quiet, beauty and I delight in going to the restaurant because of this. Who has the authority to give permission for this expansion? From whom is the area rented and why is not a Colonos vote offered?
Money, money, money!
Will we (stakeholders) be paid for more traffic on the road? I doubt it. Will we be paid for additional noise? I doubt it. To whom does the rent go? Who owns the lagoon?  It seems to me that Puerto’s charm is being sacrificed on the altar of profits for the few.
I love the dolphins, but, I find this expansion an infringement on Puerto Aventurans. Commercialism is displacing the village’s charm.  One can hardly walk around the commercial areas because there are so many signs and so much merchandise on the fringes. It looks junky.
Continued commercial expansion does not consider the owners of property here, just the individuals who profit. We seem to have little control over where we live while aesthetics that attracted home buyers here are neglected in the planning. This is in response to your article.
Sincerely,
Doe Stowell

 

Briefly Noted…

Compiled from staff, contributors and media reports
BIG DEAL – A 2.5 meter long (that’s eight feet + folks) Boa Constrictor, in this case also known as boa mousetraps because it hunts rodents, was captured by officials in a Cozumel

house , and later released in the wilds. The snake was discovered by neighbors… THERE IS A LEGAL TIFF going on in Playa over proposed modernization of the ferry terminal to Cozumel. Evidently, some deadlines haven’t been met for the work and legal arguments over breach of contract and payment of fines is ongoing…POSSIBLECONTAMINATION along a Playa beach called The Bend has drawn the attention of the Urban and Environmental Planning Department and the Committee on Water Supply and Sewerage. Both agencies planned visual tours of the area to determine further action if necessary…AN ARGENTINIANman was electrocuted to death at his home at 40th and 1st Avenue when an umbrella he was handling touched overhead wires carrying 220,000 volts…CHINA CLIPPER – Travel officials here and in China are discussing a direct Beijing-Cancun flight to begin sometime in 2013. Could it also be a precursor of the lagging Dragon Mart plans?… CAVEAT EMPTOR – Q. Roo officials say two out of every 10 real estate deals are frauds, particularly when they involve ejido lands…FOOD AND WINE festival celebrating Italy will be held in Cancun and Riviera Maya from March 14 to 17. Keep an eye out for venues…EVIDENTLY the highway anglos know as Highway 307 is known more as Boulevard Playa del Carmen in Playa., and it doesn’t escape locals’ criticism, the latest being the poor development of the roadway under the overpass that, according to critics, has left new children’s play areas in poor repair and traffic design conducive to accidents…CELL PHONE TO JAIL CELL – A traffic policeman in Playa del Carmen who tried to extort 500 pesos from a tourist couple who he accused of speeding ended up in a jail cell after the transaction was secretly recorded on the couple’s cell phone…RUSSIANS ARE COMING as tourism officials announce an added three direct flights from Russia, bringing the total to six weekly in 2013…A CAR FLIPED OVER on the overpass near the entrance of  Puerto Aventuras ending up with its tires in the air and serious injuries to the young driver. Police say speed and wet pavement contributed to the driver’s loss of control…SMALL-HOTEL OWNERSin the greater Playa area are saying they want regulations to govern the large all-inclusive hotels that attract and keep tourists in the hotels, in essence, preventing smaller hotels, restaurants and retailers in the larger community from potential sales…THE CITY COUNCIL of Solidaridad has approved a committee to combat human trafficking in the area…MINIMUM WAGE of 59 pesos per hour in the Q. Roo hotel and service industry is being debated based on an 8-hour day for six days a week…WHAT IS A ‘NINI’ ? It is what in Chetumal is called a young person who neither works nor goes to school and belongs to a gang of ruffian thieves say police there, who have identified at least 35 such gangs in that city…DRAGON MART, also known locally as the “Big Asian Monster”  is continuing to generate criticism from businesses and environmental groups over lack of transparency, changed plans and leadership. The proposed project has evidently passed environmental vetting but has undergone design and leadership changes that leave others in the dark…

 

What’s Playing…

See for yourself what’s showing at the local movie houses in Playa del Carmen at the links below.
http://cinemex.com/cartelera/cartelera_cine.php?cvecine=115p://www.cinepolis.com/_CARTELERA/cartelera.aspx?ic=70#Cine215

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What’s Playing…

See for yourself what’s showing at the local movie houses in Playa del Carmen at the links below.
http://cinemex.com/cartelera/cartelera_cine.php?cvecine=115
Http://www.cinepolis.com/_CARTELERA/cartelera.aspx?ic=70#Cine215

Briefly noted…

Compiled from staff, contributors and media reports

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