Wednesday, April 24, 2013
a new reason to buy a house
Big news from Mexico.
About a month ago a rumor was circulating that Mexico was considering amending its constitution to allow foreigners to own property in fee simple within the Star Trek-ishly named "forbidden zone." One of the first goals of the 1910 Revolution was to ensure that foreigners would never again control as much of Mexico as they did during the Porfiriato.
The party that would be known as PRI added restrictions to the 1917 constitution that a foreigner could not own property within 60 miles of the border and 30 miles of the coast. In the 1990s the same party loosened the restrictions. A foreigner could now hold property, but only through a bank trust.
For a lot of Anglo-Saxons that smacked of leasing. And we are people raised on the communion of fee simple. We buy the myth that a home is not only our castle, but it is our sovereign state.
That may be changing. And soon.
During its decade in political exile, PRI did a lot of navel-gazing. The new president essentially stole the platform of the more conservative PAN and has remade a once-authoritarian party into something that resembles a liberal democratic party.
The members of PRI and PAN in the Chamber of Deputies (Mexico's "lower" house) have approved a constitutional amendment -- on a 356-119 vote -- to amend the constitution to allow private ownership of property by foreigners in the forbidden zone. Foreign corporations are not included in the reform.
The bill now goes to the Senate where approval is expected before President Obama visits Mexico on 2 May.
And what will be the effect? No one knows yet. It is too early to tell because no one knows what the regulations will look like.
But it is obvious that Mexico is interested in attracting foreigners with money to the country. Home ownership and the increased requirements for certain visas go hand in hand. The days when people who relied solely on Social Security may be numbered.
But that is a topic for another day.
Today is a day to celebrate Mexico's continued steps toward a liberal economy.