Archive for October, 2012

According to this article, Paraguay’s Banco Central recently increased its reserves from 33.8 to 426.5 million dollars (nearly 400 million more) worth of gold to expand their precious metal reserves and diversify from the US dollar.

Rafael Lara, a director of the Banco Central, explains, “We aim to diversify our assets with currencies which provide no risk to the parent bank, and also because Dollar investments are kept close to 0% interest, a trend which will continue until the United States decides to withdraw stimulus to its economy, which markets predict will not happen until 2015.”

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From the Baja Pony Express:

Also from Yucatan Expatriate Services (original)

NEW IMMIGRATION LAWS 2012

Submitted by Yucatan Expatriate Services on October 15, 2012

On September 28, 2012 a new set of Regulations of the Immigration Laws of Mexico were officially published. The new laws themselves were published and discussed over a year ago, but were not put into effect and the details were not released. Now details have been explained and the regulations will be in effect soon, so now is the time to let everyone know what has changed.

These new regulations will come into effect 30 working days from the date of publication (on or about November 12, 2012). The regulations regarding the General Law of Population on migratory control, verification and regulation will then be officially annulled, including the Manual on Criteria and Migratory Procedures of the National Institute of Migration through which the present visa designations of Non-Immigrant, Immigrant and Immigrated were defined. Anyone with a current visa (FM2 or FM3) can continue to use their current visa until the expiration date, at which point they will have to renew under one of the categories outlined below.

New Immigration Law Details

The following are the most important new details of this new act:

The Migratory status of “Non-Immigrant” (previously known as FM3), “Immigrant” (previously known as FM2) and Immigrated (Inmigrado) shall cease to exist and shall be replaced by visas that pertain to the ‘conditions of stay’. The new designations will be Visitor (Visitante), Temporary Resident (Residente Temporal) and Permanent Resident (Residente Permanente).

The present visa cards or booklets designating FM2 or FM3 status will cease to be valid and will be replaced by Visitor, Temporary Resident and Permanent Resident cards.

The newly published regulations establish the criteria, requirements and procedures for the following types of visas. We want to stress that the people at the immigration offices are getting trained as we write this article, so details about how these rules will be enacted and questions about discrepancies and changes are still unclear.

Visitor Visa without Permission to Engage in Lucrative Activities (Visa de visitante sin permiso para realizar actividades remuneradas)

This visa may be granted for up to ten years. The applicant may be granted this visa if they can demonstrate one or more of the following circumstances:

-They have sufficient economic solvency

-They are a frequent traveler to Mexico

-They are a researcher, scientist, humanist, artist, athlete, prestigious journalist (national or international) or are another type of promiment person

-They are the spouse, concubine or equivalent, child, parent or sibling of a Mexican or a temporary or permanent resident, but are not intending to reside in the country

-They are the spouse, concubine or equivalent, child, parent or sibling of a diplomatic or consular official accredited in Mexico who are ordinary passport holders

-Being a supervisor of a foreign company with a subsidiary in the country or executive staff of subsidiaries or sales offices of Mexican companies abroad.

A non-Mexican who obtains this visa may request the issuance of the same for their spouse, concubine or equivalent and their children, if the children or adolescents are under their legal custody or if they are over-age but still in their legal custody. In this case, the applicant must prove the relationship and they must also prove that they have sufficient economic solvency to support those dependents, and that they are frequent travelers.

This visa will be issued for those non-Mexicans interested in being in the country for no more than 180 days.

Visitor visa with permission to engage in lucrative activities (Visa de visitante con permiso para realizar actividades remuneradas)

This visa will be issued for those non-Mexicans interested in doing business in Mexico for no more than 180 days. The individuals or legally-established corporations in the country who want to give a job to a non-Mexican may submit an application for a specific person to perform a specific job. They must provide the following information:

-Proof of an employer registration record issued by the Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM)

-The name and nationality of the non-Mexican

-The position he or she will perform for the company

-The amount of compensation for this position and this person

-The duration of the job

-The address of the workplace

-Proof of ability to pay for his/her travel

Immigration authorities may conduct verification visits to the workplace to check the veracity of the job, the existence of the petitioner or any other information presented in the application. Upon approval, the visa issues will allow the person performing the job to engage in activities for pay and will be for the duration of the position as stated in the application.

Visitor Visa For Adoption (Visa de visitante para realizar trámites de adopción)

The visitor visa for adoption procedures may be issued to non-Mexicans linked to an adoption process in Mexico. The applicant must provide proof of the existence or initiation of an international adoption procedure with the National System for Integral Family Development (DIF) in Mexico.

The visitor visa for adoption purposes will be issued for only one hundred and eighty calendar days with a single entry. The non-Mexican must request this visa within the first thirty calendar days after his/her entry into Mexico. This visa will remain valid until the adoption has concluded and, where appropriate, the formalities of registration before the Civil Registry, such as issuing passports and other necessary arrangements to ensure that the child or adolescent will be admitted to the country of residence of the adopter, have been completed.

Temporary Resident Visa (Visa de residente temporal)

The temporary resident visa is issued to a non-Mexican who declares his/her intention to remain in Mexico for a period exceeding one hundred and eighty days and up to four years. The applicant must demonstrate one of the following:

-Sufficient economic resources to pay for accommodations and meals during their stay in Mexico

-Participation in a scientific research project or sample collection in Mexico or the territorial waters of Mexico, after having obtained the appropriate authorizations from the appropriate national authorities (e.g., INAH, etc.)

-Family relationship to a Mexican, temporary or permanent resident

-An invitation from an organization or a public or private institution in Mexico to participate in any activity for which they will gain no income. The invitation should be on letterhead and indicate the activity that the applicant will be performing, the duration and the address of the workplace and the person or company accepting responsibility to pay for their travel and living expenses. Otherwise, the applicant must demonstrate sufficient economic solvency to cover his/her living expenses during his/her stay in the country

-Ownership of real estate in Mexico with a value equivalent to the amount stipulated in the “General Administrative Provisions” which will be issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and has not yet been published in the Mexican Official Gazette

-Ownership of investments in Mexico that consist of:

Capital stock in Mexican companies in accordance with laws and other legal provisions, with a value that exceeds the amount provided for in the “General Administrative Provisions” (to be issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and published in the Mexican Official Gazette)

Movable or fixed assets used for commercial or business in accordance with laws and other legal provisions, whose value exceeds the amount provided for in the “General Administrative Provisions” (to be issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and published in the Mexican Official Gazette)

Development of economic and business activities in the country in accordance with laws and other legal provisions that generate formal jobs in terms of the “General Administrative Provisions” (to be issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and published in the Mexican Official Gazette)

The temporary resident visa will be valid for one hundred and eighty calendar days with a single entry. The applicant must apply for the resident card within the first thirty calendar days after their entry into Mexico. After 4 years with the temporary resident visa, the applicant can apply for the permanent resident visa.

Temporary Student Resident Visa (Visa de residente temporal estudiante)

This visa is issued to a non-Mexican who intends to enter into Mexico for courses, studies, research projects or training in educational institutions belonging to the Mexican national education system which will last for more than one hundred and eighty days. The temporary student resident visa is valid for one hundred eighty calendar days with a single entry. The applicant must apply for the resident card within the first thirty calendar days after his or her entry into Mexico.

Permanent Resident Visa (Visa de residente permanente)

This visa will be issued to a non-Mexican who intends to enter the country in order to reside indefinitely. The applicant must demonstrate one of the following situations:

-Family relationship to a Mexican or permanent resident of Mexico

-Retirement status, with sufficient monthly income to cover living expenses during their stay in Mexico. Currently, “sufficient monthly income” is 250 times the minimum salary in Mexico city for FM3 and 400 times the minimum salary for FM2. (The minimum daily salary at this writing is $62.33 pesos. That would make the minimums for visas $15,582.50 pesos and $24,932.00 pesos ($1215.35 USD and $1944.61 USD at $12.82 pesos to the USD).)

-Meeting the categories and the minimum score required to enter through the Point System under the “General Administrative Provisions” (to be issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and published in the Mexican Official Gazette)

-That he or she has been granted political asylum by the Mexican government

The permanent resident visa will be valid for one hundred and eighty calendar days with a single entry. The applicant must apply for their resident card within the first thirty calendar days after his or her entry into Mexico.

The Point System for Mexican Visas

There are eight basic categories in the selection criteria of the new Point System for eligibility for Permanent Residency. It is Mexico’s hope that these criteria will attract foreign investors or people with high competency in areas such as science, technology, sports, arts and humanities or any other skills that strengthen and promote the development and competitiveness of Mexico.

The selection criteria may include, but are not limited to, the following:

-Education level

-Work experience in areas of interest to the country that have high demand and low supply

-Work experience in other areas

-Investor

-Skills in science and technology

-Acknowledgements and international awards

-Spanish language proficiency

-Knowledge of Mexican culture

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will issue the categories in the “General Administrative Provisions” which will be published in the Mexican Official Gazette. This will also include the weighting of points corresponding to each category, as well as the minimum score required to enter through this route.

The Ministry will review the Point System every three years, and if necessary will publish in the Mexican Official Gazette any addendums, modifications or deletions of categories. They may also change the weighting of points corresponding to each category, as well as the minimum scores and any other information in the Point System.

A non-Mexican who wishes to enter the country through the Point System must apply for visa at the consular office, attaching a completed pre-qualification form, accompanied by the documents proving that they meet the requirements of the category.

The non-Mexican holder of a temporary resident visa or temporary work visa who wishes to remain in Mexico when their visa runs out may request a change to the status of permanent resident status via the Point System.


Other Visa-Related Considerations

A visitor visa application for adoption and temporary resident student can in no case be made directly to the Institute.

Consular offices may issue a replacement temporary resident visa, the temporary student resident visa, permanent resident visa, visitor visa for adoption procedures and visitor visas without permission to engage in lucrative activity for humanitarian reasons to the non-Mexican holder of that visa. They may do so if the visa holder has had their visitor or resident card stolen, lost or destroyed. Non-Mexicans must process their replacement request within the first thirty calendar days after the loss of the card.

The Immigration Institute (INM) shall establish in the General Administrative Provisions which will soon be published in the Mexican Official Gazette, the features, form and design of the cards, and other immigration documents.

The card that certifies the status of temporary resident stay may be valid for one, two, three or four years, starting from when the non-Mexican was given that particular status.

When the temporary resident obtains a work permit, the card certifying their status will have validity for as long as the job lasts.

The holder of the temporary resident card may, within thirty calendar days prior to its expiration date, request the visa’s renewal for up to a total of four years.

Children of foreign nationality under the age of three can only obtain a resident card with a validity of one year, until they are three years old.

The card certifying the status of temporary resident will give the holder the right to make multiple entries and exits from the country.

The permanent resident card will be valid for an indefinite term, but Non-Mexicans who are minors and older than three will have to renew their permanent resident card every four years until they are of legal age.

The card certifying the status of permanent resident will give the holder the right to make multiple entries and exits of the country and to maintain a work permit once they are of legal age.

A non-Mexican who is outside the country when their visa status expires, may enter the country with it up to fifty-five calendar days from its expiration. Within fifty-five calendar days, no penalty will be applied and the application for renewal must be submitted within five working days after admission into Mexico. Entry into Mexico will not be allowed for non-Mexicans holding a document that is more than fifty-five calendar days past its date of expiration.

Non-Mexicans in the possession of a temporary student resident card can obtain a work permit if they are doing postgraduate or advanced classes, or research.

The owners of a visa as visitors for humanitarian activities and permanent residents have an implicit work permit.

Temporary and permanent residents must notify the INM, within ninety calendar days following the occurrence, of any changes in marital status, nationality, residence or workplace.

Any visa applications that are pending on the date that these regulations go into effect shall be completed in accordance with the provisions in force at the time of the start of the application.

The immigration documents proving regular migration status of Non-Mexicans, which have been issued before these regulations go into effect, shall continue to have legal effect until their expiration. The one exception is the Non-immigrant Local Guest, whose visa must be replaced in accordance with the General Administrative Provisions issued by the INM that will be published in the Mexican Official Gazette.

New Rules

As you can see if you read all of the above, the rules for immigration into Mexico have changed fairly substantially and we believe it will take some time for the rules and the way they are applied to be ironed out. As of this writing (October 15, 2012), our contacts inside the INM have informed us that they are in training to understand how to implement and apply these new rules. There will be new forms, new computer procedures and new documents. We encourage you all to be patient.

Sunday movie review

Posted: October 28, 2012 in Life
Tags: , ,

Since there’s nothing to do today (literally, the whole city is shut down, save for supermarkets, for the municipal election) I’ll write about a few of the movies we’ve seen lately.

“Wasting Away,” also known as “AAAh! Zombies!” is a cheesy but funny low-budget zombie film with a unique twist on the genre which is used for much comic relief. Worth seeing for zombie fans. I rate it 3.5/5 on the Bob-O-Meter.

“Fase 7” is an Argentine suspense/horror movie about a disease outbreak and the perils that ensue in an apartment building during quarantine. Excellent dialogue, good humor, good characters. I rate it 4/5.

“Fahrenheit 451,” the original 1966 film adaptation. I give it a stinker 1/5. Maybe it was shagadelic for its day but sitting through it was like getting a root canal. Read the book instead.

“Being Elmo” is an excellent documentary. It just goes to show that if you stick to your goal of excellence and strive to get off your ass, you can get anywhere you want to go. Also nice to see another artistic person who was tormented by his peers who “just didn’t get it” succeed, and now he sleeps comfortably in his bed made of money. Bob-O-Meter: 5/5.

“Cocaine Cowboys,” “Cocaine Cowboys 2,” and “Square Grouper” all by Raconteur productions, tell stories about the Florida drug trade in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Simply amazing the stuff that people used to get away with. Bob-O-Meter: 4.5/5 average for all 3.

“Mr Nice”: the story of Howard Marks. While we’re on the drug-smuggler kick, this also proved to be an interesting movie. Based on his biography, which I have not yet read but am told is much better and more colorful. I look forward to reading it. Bob-O-Meter: 4/5

NetFlix is dangerous. Kind of like Tivo…

 

According to this announcement, the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Association of Uruguayan Supermarkets are putting a freeze on prices for over 200 supermarket products, in more than 300 stores, “in order to fight inflation.” Not only will the prices be frozen but they will be discounted 10%.

Our old friend Lorenzo, who scared off just about all the big fish from investing in Uruguay with his proposal and subsequent law to tax foreign holdings of UY residents, now thinks he can fix the problem with price controls. Well, it’s not just his idea; it’s the Association of Uruguayan Supermarkets too. They are “volunteering” to the price freeze. Why, who knows. Probably a political stunt. If they can afford to freeze prices *and* discount them, maybe they’ve been doing a bit of scalping. I’ve suspected this for a while.

Let’s see… every single time, ever, in all of recorded history, whenever price controls are enacted, that creates shortages of those goods and hoarding by those who have them. Why sell when the government forces you to do it at a loss? Those products then suddenly find themselves missing and/or not produced in the first place.

I have a prediction, based on this evidence from all of recorded history: those 200+ items will simply vanish from supermarket shelves and not be replaced. Meanwhile whoever actually produces them will either fill warehouses with unsold merchandise, or just stop production.

I also have a better suggestion to fight inflation: stop inflating the currency supply. All it takes is to do nothing, which Uruguayans are experts at. Doing nothing requires no employees, no printing press, no ledger entries.

I have been wondering for a long time how Uruguayans can afford to feed themselves as these crazy inflated prices. Now we see firsthand. And I don’t think it’s lack of material– there have been absurd prices on things that are sourced and made in-country. My opinion as to the price absurdity: Uruguayan greed. Really there’s no need to charge US$5 for 100 grams of cheese when it’s made in your backyard. Or $5 for a bag of potato chips which contains maybe 5 potatoes which cost a whopping 10 cents apiece from field to fryer?

Thanks to GermanBob for the link.

We finally got our floors finished in the Santiago crack den. What we have been working on for the past month, day in day out, is the complete restoration of ancient and poorly-maintained parquet floor, all loose, mostly shaken free through multiple earthquakes over the past few decades, and basically left to rot.

Before

The previous owners tried to reglue them with varying methods which included plaster and roofing tar. Which we had to chip out with a chipping hammer. Since the floors were put in original with the building, the concrete floor was sort of “molded into” them and they had metal staples holding them into the concrete as well as their original coating of asphalt on the bottoms. All of which had to come out. Some of the planks were in good enough shape we simply had to clean them off and re-glue them. So we had to come up with a numbering system to catalog them onto the floor so that we could batch-process the scraping and put them back in order so the metal staples and concrete footing fit properly.

At the end of each day we looked like coal miners.

Underneath the planks we found a nice combination of human and pet dander, compressed into square cakes, which reeked of ass and occasionally ass with cat piss. We filled 8 shop-vac bags with this substance. Truly revolting.

Scum cake on left, clean on right

We found a local company which custom-fabricates parquet flooring, and we had them make 6.5 square meters of new planks for us to replace the ones which were too thin, too broken, or too poorly maintained that we could not recycle them. This company, Lash, did an excellent job and did it on time and on budget. What a concept! And they are nice guys to boot!

During the repairs

We hired a pulidor to come in and do the sanding and varnishing once we were done with the re-gluing. It took over a week to get it done, partly because of “mañana” and partly because we kept finding loose or “too thin” planks during the sanding which had to be re-glued or replaced, which kept throwing the whole process off. I was starting to get irritated with them but during our conversations while waiting for varnish to dry, my respect for them really grew. To add to the good impression I got, our circuit breaker kept blowing out under the heavy load of the sanding machine, and instead of throwing their hands up and going home like Uruguayans would have done, they rewired the circuit breaker so it would work right and kept on working.

We’re out waiting in the hall, with bags of sawdust and machinery and things that cannot go back into the apartment just yet, and the building’s mayordomo comes down and scolds us about the stuff in the hall. The door is open and the fumes are thick, and it’s obvious we are working and can’t put anything back into the apartment until we are done. Me and PulidorBob roll our eyes, he can spot a Neighborhood Nazi too. “We’re working,” he tells her. PulidorBob and his brother and his wife have been coming and going for a week at this point, staying late to get the job done and revising their work to make sure that our old poorly-maintained floor gets a new life and doesn’t look like crap.

This of course gets us joking once she is gone, about how me and WifeBob can stay out in the hall in a tent tonight while the final varnish coat dries, and how that ought to make the Mayordomo happier than happy.

“What’s that word, the one for people who occupy property that isn’t theirs, and the law protects them from being kicked out?” I ask. Somewhere in my head there is a word like “locals” or “lugareños” or something similar.

PulidorBob doesn’t know; the concept seems absurd to him, “Sin verguenza?” (without shame)

“Excellent, but there’s a specific word for them. Maybe it’s just a local Uruguayo word. Pobrecitos who can’t be moved.”

PulidorBob doesn’t know. So we start thinking of names to call ourselves once we move out into the hallway. “Los Indigentes” gets plenty of laughs.

We started talking about Uruguay and our experiences there, and PulidorBob was absolutely floored (no pun intended) when we told him about BPS and how you must, by law, pay social security tax on your own labor should you decide to do something like paint your own house. “Viva Chile,” I say. “Si, viva Chile.”

A couple of weeks ago when I rode with the delivery guy from the parquet factory to our crack den, we were talking about Chile and how immigrants are coming, and how he thinks it is a good thing. DeliveryBob told me that he spent an entire year traveling, living, and working in all the other countries in South America, just to see how things were. He said when he got back to Chile he made up his mind to stay, because all of the alternatives are lousy. I don’t blame him at this point.

Before the varnish

When the job is finally done, and PulidorBob and I look over everything, I can tell he’s not entirely happy. There were still a few trouble spots where the planks were too thin, due to 70 years of foot traffic and poor maintenance and poor sanding. He asks me if I want to adjust the price.

I am blown away. Someone actually taking pride in their work, and feeling shame for stuff that didn’t turn out as ideal as he expected? In South America??? This would NEVER happen in Uruguay.

I tell him that no, it is no problem. Considering that he and his folks went the extra mile and were in there chipping out cement with chisels to get the new floor planks to fit, and spent several extra days making sure the stuff got done, the price we agreed upon was reasonable. This seemed to make him feel better. Whatever, if a few spots need some putty or patching, we’ll deal with it. If you look at the before and after photos, you’ll see what I mean. We can now walk from end to end of the crack den without stepping on moving floor planks or stepping into a pit of ass-and-cat-piss-dander-cake.

Finished floor

“Safe” Uruguay

Posted: October 15, 2012 in News
Tags: , , , ,

According to FUNDAPRO (Observatorio de la Seguridad de la Fundación Propuesta), since 2005, Uruguay has increased to surpass Argentina in homicide rates per 100,000 people.

More details can be found in this article by El Pais.

Buenos Aires, Argentina:

We’re here in BA to visit RomanianBob for his birthday (observed). Before the trip we put together our “Bourne File” with our various currencies, which we always tally up before an international trip. We have Paraguayan Guarani, Chilean Peso, Uruguayan Peso, Canadian Dollar, Brazilian Real, US Dollar, a couple of Euro notes, and Argentine Pesos from our last jaunt a couple of years ago. Basically the leftovers from our various wanderings. And some various 500 Trillion Zimbabwe Dollar notes which we like to leave in the tip jar as a joke and warning to the curious.

WifeBob is fascinated with the dynamics of the ongoing currency debacle in Argentina. How does good money push out the bad in a market so severely distorted? For example, the government rate is AR$4.71 per US dollar, but the black market rate is AR$6.20, you can negotiate anywhere from 5.5 to 6 if you pay in cash for something, and the automatic credit card exchange rate is like spinning a slot machine since you don’t know what you’ll get. In short: at the end of the day, you really don’t know what sort of value you are getting, because it’s such a mess.

This morning, 10 pesos for a few slices of cheese. So we pay in AR$. But it was change from a transaction last night in which we paid US$ for and got back AR$ in change, at a rate of about 5.5. So what did we pay? Who knows. Did we get a deal, or was it a ripoff? Who knows. Should we spend the worthless Pesos first, or should we spend the Dollars and get a better deal? Who knows.

So if we can’t even keep track over a 24 hour span, how are accountants, businesses, and international financiers supposed to know what the heck is going on with their true values?

Despite the lack of ability to determine value, things still seem normal in BA. Life goes on for the Argies, as they patiently wait for the collapse and renewal after Kristina & Friends recklessly drive the country over the cliff.