The law declares that the Mexican nation has original ownership to all land and water in Mexico, as well as minerals, salts, ore deposits, natural gas and oil; but that such ownership may be assigned to individuals.
The Mexican Constitution prohibits direct ownership of real estate by foreigners in what has come to be known as the “restricted zone.” The restricted zone encompasses all land located within 100 kilometers (about 62 miles) of any Mexican border, and within 50 kilometers (about 31 miles) of any Mexican coastline. However, in order to permit foreign investment in these areas, the Mexican government created the “fideicomiso,” (FEE-DAY-E-CO-ME-SO) which is, roughly translated, a real estate trust. Essentially, this type of trust is similar to trusts set up in the United States, but a Mexican bank must be designated as the trustee and, as such, has title to the property and is the owner of record. The Mexican Government created the “fideicomiso” to reconcile the problems involved in developing the restricted zone and to attract foreign capital. This enabled foreigners, as beneficiaries of the trusts, to enjoy unrestricted use of land located in the restricted zone without violating the law.
I’m not sure how reliable that source is… my google-fu is a bit worn these days.
Anyway, this post at The Economist reminded me to relay a conversation I had this weekend with somebody while I was down in Arizona at my cousin’s wedding. My interlocutor was saying that she thought Americans (usually rich Americans) who had their Mexican homes taken away via the above laws were “stupid. They should have known better! Everyone knows Americans only lease their property from the Mexican government!”
Knowing her political sensibilities ((“the terrorists hate us because of 8 years of Bush” (I guess they anticipated his election a year in advance) was one gem and she takes notes in a “womyn’s” notepad were both indications of certain political affiliations)), I asked her if those who took out sub-prime loans were similarly “stupid.”
The mental gymnastics induced by cognitive dissonance should be an Olympic sport.