The following is only the introduction and one section of a large document pertaining to the rights and obligations of foreigners living in Mexico. You are encouraged to visit the site on the web and download or read it in its entirety. As a foreigner living in Mexico these are things to know and keep in mind. http://lawreview.richmond.edu/rights-and-obligations-of-americans/
RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF AMERICANS IN MEXICO UNDER IMMIGRATION LAW AND OTHER AREAS OF MEXICAN LAW I. Introduction
Different studies suggest that the presence of U.S. citizens (i.e., Americans) in Mexico is becoming greater, more varied, and more permanent. According to the latest information produced by United States Department of Commerce, nearly twenty million Americans visited Mexico as tourists in 2005. Based on a recent report by Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Information (Instituto Nacional de EstadÃstica, GeografÃa e InformÃ¡tica) (“INEGI”), titled Foreigners in Mexico (Los Extranjeros en MÃ©xico), a total of 492,617 foreigners live in Mexico today, out of which 69.7% (equivalent to 343,391) are Americans. Roughly half of these Americans live in the Mexican states that share a border with the United States, namely Baja California (56,033); Chihuahua (42,120); Tamaulipas (33,921); Sonora (15,101); Coahuila (9,225); and Nuevo LeÃ³n (12,546). Significant populations of Americans can also be found in Jalisco (38,660), MichoacÃ¡n (21,804), and Guanajuato (15,327).
When traveling throughout the Republic of Mexico, one becomes aware that there are a few select cities where American retirees, for a number of reasons, have found it convenient to reside (on a permanent or semi-permanent basis), including the well-known San Miguel Allende, Guanajuato; Cuernavaca, Morelos; and Ajijic, Jalisco; and more recently Rosarito, Ensenada, and San Felipe in Baja California; Loreto, La Paz, and Los Cabos in Baja California Sur; and Puerto Angel, Oaxaca.
Unquestionably, these facts suggest there is a growing presence of Americans in Mexico today. In contrast, there were only a few hundred Americans residing in Mexico in the early twentieth century, most of whom quickly left the country as a consequence of the violent and prolonged revolutionary movement started in 1910. The trickle of Americans going south to Mexico as investors and tourists gradually started after the end of World War II. That presence has been growing and strengthening in the dawn of the twenty-first century.
However, given the physical contiguity between the United States and Mexico, the overwhelming U.S. investment in that country, and the immigration flows from Mexico to the United States, the prognosis may be rather simple: in the years to come, the numbers of U.S. citizens in the Republic of Mexicoâ€”whether tourists, investors, students, or retireesâ€”will continue to grow significantly. Considering that the flow of trade, business, and investments between Mexico and the United States is likely to increase in the years to come, it is to be expected that the presence of Americans and American companies in Mexico will become more permanent and more diversified.
Although traditionally the attraction of Mexico for Americans has been strongly associated with two major factorsâ€”wealth (i.e., trade, business, and investments) and benign weather (i.e., tourism and retirees)â€”it may not be surprising to see that over the next twenty-five years the American presence in Mexico is likely to intensify and diversify. As a result, it would be logical to anticipate that U.S. interests in Mexico will go beyond the traditional areas of wealth and weather, turning to embrace new and unprecedented areas, such as family, religion, education, well-being, and science and technology.
Accordingly, binational marriages and children, family reunification, and family contacts will grow greater and stronger across the U.S.-Mexico boundary; U.S. religious institutions will become more aggressive, familiar, and confident in their initiatives to proselytize and convert Mexicans, inducing them to change from Catholicism to Protestantism based on their sound and sustained economic power; the number of international students will grow considerably between both countries, although American students in Mexico may continue to surpass Mexican students in the United States; retirement homes, hospitals, and rehabilitation centers patterned after U.S. companies and designed for providing professional services to Americans and American retirees will proliferate throughout the Republic of Mexico; and U.S. private and academic institutions engaged in scientific and technological pursuits that target natural resources in Mexico and Mexican scientists, engineers, and other specialists, will become popular in key areas of that country in the not-too-distant future.
The preceding considerations necessitate an objective and comprehensive articulation of the legal rights and obligations applicable to U.S. citizens while in Mexico, whether their presence in that neighboring country be transitoryâ€”as it is for tourists, journalists, athletes, and special visitorsâ€”or more prolonged and stableâ€”as it happens with students, professionals, investors, and retirees. The benefits of such an endeavor will be beneficial not only to Americans, but also to Mexico and Mexicansâ€”especially when one considers the growing degree of interdependence between both countries, which is likely to become more intertwined and more complex in the years to come.
Most American tourists visiting Mexico must comply with Mexico’s immigration requirements, consisting of having a valid U.S. passport and a Mexican Tourist Permit (Forma Migratoria de Turista, Transmigrante, Visitante persona de negocios o Visitante consejero, also known as a Tarjeta de Turista), which is officially issued by the Secretariat of the Interior (SecretarÃa de GobernaciÃ³n) (“GobernaciÃ³n“) and generally made available by airline companies or by the respective Mexican Consulate. This may be many tourists’ only relative and sporadic contact with Mexican law. American students and retirees are in a similar position.
The extent of knowledge most Americans have about Mexican law can be condensed into three generalizations: (1) the Mexican legal system is based on codes (in particular the Napoleonic Code); (2) unlike the United States, there is no jury system in Mexico; and (3) the administration of justice in Mexico has been slow, and some judges and authorities are perceived as corrupt or dishonest.
It is only understandable, therefore, that Americans become surprised and even shocked when, for example, they are summarily deported by Mexican immigration authorities for becoming actively engaged in political demonstrations or in similar political activities in that country; put to lengthy criminal proceedings and severely sanctioned because they consumed drugs while in Mexico or carried concealed weapons on their persons or in their vehicles; sanctioned because they were teaching English or engaged in some other work activity while in Mexico without having obtained the proper visa or corresponding permit issued by the competent authority; prohibited from directly owning beachfront property or property on one of the many islands off the coast of Mexico; or banned from investing in a commercial gasoline, radio, or television station.
The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the rights and obligations that govern the conduct of Americans or the execution of certain legal acts by Americans while in Mexico. These rights and obligations may apply to Americans as foreign individuals, or extranjeros, as these rights are guaranteed by Mexico’s Federal Constitution of 1917 to protect both Mexican nationals and foreigners under the notion of “Individual Guarantees.” Alternatively, these rights and obligations may derive from the pertinent provisions of specific statutes, regulations, and codes, as these legislative enactments specifically govern the civil and immigration status, legal acts, and business activities of Americans during their temporary visits or lawful permanent residency in Mexico.II. Constitutional Rights and Obligations of Foreigners in Mexico
A. A Panoply of Restrictions and Obligations Imposed on Foreigners
Unlike the constitutions of most countries in the world today, the Federal Constitution of Mexico is, from a foreigner’s point of view, quite atypical.
Enacted by the National Constitutional Assembly on February 5, 1917, Mexico’s Federal Constitution contains numerous provisions prohibiting foreigners from becoming engaged in certain activities or explicitly imposing restrictions on foreign nationals in the execution of certain acts, including the exercise and enjoyment of certain constitutional rights known as “Individual Guarantees” (GarantÃas Individuales). Moreover, these prohibitive and restrictive constitutional provisions generally serve as the legal basis for the enactment of specific federal statutes in a number of areasâ€”immigration, foreign investment, electoral and other political rights, trade and commerce, acquisition of real estate, negotiable instruments, companies, labor law, education, tourism, electricity, communications and transportation, mining, civil aviation, rendering of professional services, etc.â€”that further detail the prohibitions and restrictions imposed on foreigners.
Accordingly, to a foreigner who reads the Federal Constitution of Mexico for the first time, this important document appears somewhat paradoxical; it is the fundamental law that establishes individuals’ constitutional rights, and the form and structure of the Mexican governmentâ€”highly inspired, by the way, by the U.S. Constitutionâ€”but it also includes a long catalogue of prohibitions and restrictions imposed on foreigners. To explain or justify this Mexican constitutional peculiarity, one must bear in mind the long history of the sometimes prickly and contentious relations between Mexico and the United States, paying special attention to the U.S.-Mexico war of 1846â€“48, which had tragic and long lasting consequences that continue to be felt today.
B. Legal Definition of “Foreigner”
Although Mexico has a Nationality Act and an Immigration Act, the definition of “foreigner” (extranjero) does not appear in these federal statutes. It is provided, a contrario sensu, in Article 33 of Mexico’s Federal Constitution:
Foreigners are those who do not possess the qualifications set forth in Article 30. They are entitled to the guarantees granted by Chapter I, Title I, of the present Constitution; but the Federal Executive shall have the exclusive power to compel any foreigner whose presence may be deemed inconvenient to abandon the national territory immediately and without the necessity of previous legal action. Foreigners may not in any way become involved in the political affairs of the country.
Article 30 of the Federal Constitution prescribes, in general, that Mexican nationals are those who have acquired Mexican nationality by birth or by naturalization, and Article 34 adds that “Mexican citizens of the Republic” must be Mexican nationals of eighteen years of age “with an honest means of livelihood.”
Therefore, under Mexican law, the rights and obligations of foreigners in the Republic of Mexico are not codified in a single federal act, code, or statute. Instead, those rights and obligations are found in numerous legislative enactments, including: the Federal Constitution of Mexico, found at the apex of Mexico’s legal system; specific federal statutes (and their regulations), most of which are derived from the Constitution; federal and state codes; and special decrees.
C. Constitutional Rights and Restrictions Pertaining to Foreigners in Mexico
Probably because of the strong influence from the Constitution of the United States, the Federal Constitution of Mexico includes a long and robust catalogue of constitutional rights, the Individual Guarantees, that closely parallel those found in the American document. These constitutional rights, which are found in the first twenty-nine Articles of the Mexican Constitution, are fundamental, inalienable rights divided into three general categories: (1) equality rights; (2) liberty rights; and (3) legal security rights.
Interestingly, Article 1 of Mexico’s Federal Constitution prescribes that, in principle, its Individual Guarantees apply to both Mexicans and foreigners, in the following terms: “Every person in the United Mexican States shall enjoy the guarantees granted by this Constitution, which cannot be restricted or suspended except in such cases and under such conditions as herein established.”
However, it should be noted that in virtually every guarantee enunciated by the Constitution, the same fundamental law prescribes certain restrictions or limitations when the guarantees in question apply to foreigners, as indicated by the following illustrative examples.
1. Prohibition on Foreigners Exercising Certain Political Rights
Unquestionably, the ability to exercise political rights is a fundamental freedom necessary for the existence of a free and democratic society, characterized under Mexican law as “Guarantees of the Civic Person.” Articles 9 and 6 of the Federal Constitu-tion prescribe these rights.
Article 9 guarantees the right of peaceful association for any licit purpose, and Article 6 assures freedom of expression. However, these rights are only granted to Mexican citizens, and foreigners are expressly prohibited from getting involved in any political associations or activities. Pursuant to Article 33 of the Federal Constitution, the Federal Executive is empowered with exclusive and absolute authority to deport from the Mexican territory, “immediately and without any previous legal action,” any foreigner whom the Mexican immigration authorities or agents deem to be engaged in any political activity.
In recent years, the collective deportation of a large group of European Union foreign nationals belonging to non-governmental organizations (“NGOs”) created political tensions between Mexico and certain European Union countries. The Europeans, from France and Spain, were members of NGOs who entered Mexico with tourist visas to document human rights abuses inflicted by Mexican authorities on indigenous groups in the state of Chiapas. Similar expulsion of Americans who attempted to document recent human rights violations in the states of Mexico, Chiapas, and Oaxaca, also have occurred.
It must be emphasized that Mexican authorities are extremely sensitive when foreign nationals, including members of human rights NGOs, such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and similar organizations, are found inside Mexico documenting human rights violations or arbitrary behavior on the part of Mexican authorities. Any of these foreign intrusions are routinely characterized as infringements on Mexico’s sovereignty and as unwanted involvement by foreigners in political activities in violation of the provisions of Mexico’s Federal Constitution. The result is often the immediate and summary expulsion of the foreigners in question.
2. Right to a Trial and Due Process (with an Exception for the Deportation of Foreigners)
Article 14 of the Federal Constitution guarantees the right to a trial and due process, known in Mexico as “GarantÃa de Audiencia“â€”which is legally similar to the U.S. notion of due process. This guarantee, associated with the Mexican concept “juridical certainty” (juridical seguridad), imposes the obligation upon state authorities, vis Ã vis an individual, of executing all of their official acts in full compliance with the requirements imposed by due process prior to implementing any deprivation or cancellation of rights affecting said individual. It is reported that this constitutional guarantee is comprised of four components: (1) the conduct of judicial proceedings (i.e., the trial) must take place prior to any deprivation of the rights of an individual by an authority (mediante juicio previo); (2) the proceedings in question must take place in duly established tribunals (judicial and administrative); (3) the proceeding must be in compliance with the required due process formalities (formalidades esenciales del procedimiento); and (4) applicable laws, enacted prior to the act in question, must be followed.
An explicit exception to the protection provided by this Individual Guarantee is the absolute and unlimited power exercised by the federal executive through the federal immigration agents to deport foreigners “immediately and without any previous legal action,” which is found in Article 33 of the Federal Constitution.
3. No Right to Petition Authorities Regarding Political Issues
Article 8 of the Mexican Constitution imposes the obligation on public officials to respect the “Right of Petition” (Derecho de PeticiÃ³n) in favor of Mexican citizens “when the exercise of this right is made in writing, and in a peaceful and respectful manner.” In this case, the public officials or authorities have to provide an official answer within a reasonable period of time. However, this Article expressly states that “regarding political questions, this right may only be exercised by the citizens of the Republic.”
4. No Right of Political Association for Foreigners
As indicated earlier, Article 9 of the Federal Constitution grants Mexican citizens the right to freely associate for any licit purpose. However, this same provision explicitly deprives foreigners of this right.
5. Restrictions on Foreigners Entering, Exiting, and Traveling Throughout the Republic of Mexico
In rather antiquated language, the opening paragraph of Article 11 of Mexico’s Constitution reads: “Any man (sic) has the right to enter and to leave the Republic [of Mexico], travel throughout its territory and change his residency, without necessity of a letter of security, passport, safe-conduct or any other similar requirement.” However, the second part of this constitutional provision states:
The exercise of this right shall be subordinated to the powers of the judicial authority, in the cases of criminal or civil liability, and to those of the administrative authority insofar as it involves the limitations imposed by the laws regarding emigration, immigration, and the public health of the Republic, or in regard to undesirable aliens who reside in the country.
When Article 11 is read in conjunction with Article 33, there is no doubt that Mexican authoritiesâ€”in particular those in charge of immigration, public health, customs, and national securityâ€”are endowed with nearly absolute power and discretion to impose any limitations on foreigners in the exercise of Mexico’s sovereignty and in compliance with the applicable laws. Furthermore, in accordance with this unrestricted power, a Mexican immigration authority, for example, may validly deny entry to the Republic of Mexico to any foreigner, even when the foreigner may be in possession of a valid tourist visa, passport, and health certificate, or any other documents required by Mexico. In other words, a foreign national’s entry into Mexico (like entry into the United States or any other country) continues to be considered a “privilege” rather than a “right,” in accordance with the current principles of international law and pertinent provisions of the applicable domestic immigration law.
6. Military and Public Service Restrictions
Article 32 of the Federal Constitution prohibits foreigners from serving in Mexico’s military forces (i.e., the Mexican Army, and the police and public security forces) during peace time. Only Mexicans by birth are allowed to join the Army during peace time (and the Mexican Navy and Air Force at any time). The same requirement applies to be a captain, pilot, owner, machinist, mechanic and, in general, any person who is a member of the crew in any vessel or aircraft flying the Mexican flag or the emblem of the Mexican merchant marine. Again, only Mexicans by birth may become Port Captain or provide services as commandant (comandante) or pratique (prÃ¡ctico) in an airport.
Evidently, Mexicans shall be preferred over foreigners, under equal circumstances, for any kind of official authorizations or permits (e.g., concesiones) and for any kind of government employment, positions, or commissions in which the status of citizenship (calidad de ciudadano) is not indispensable.
In 1997, Mexico’s Federal Congress, pursuant to the special procedure established by Article 135 of the Federal Constitution, amended Articles 30, 32, and 37, introducing for the first time in Mexico the notion of a Mexican “indelible nationality,” which led to a “dual nationality.” Today’s Federal Constitution explicitly states that the requirement to be “Mexican by birth”â€”needed to occupy certain governmental positionsâ€”is to be “reserved only for those who have said quality and have not acquired any other nationality.” Thus, Mexicans with “dual nationality” are not allowed to occupy those positions, even though factually and legally they may be Mexican by birth based on the traditional principle of jus soli.
7. Restrictions on Foreigners Acquiring Direct Ownership of Lands and Waters Located Within the Restricted Zone
For an American (or any other foreigner) interested in acquiring immovable property in Mexico, real estate is divided into two categories. The first encompasses a strip of land of 100 kilometers (some 64 miles) along the international boundaries of Mexico with the United States, Guatemala and Belize, including a strip of land of 50 kilometers (some 32 miles) along Mexico’s coastlines (reputed to have a length of some 10,000 km), known as the “Restricted Zone” (Zona Restringida). The remaining land in the Republic of Mexico located outside the Restricted Zone is called the “Permitted Zone” (Zona Permitida).
Americans and other foreign nationals may acquire the direct ownership of lands and waters located in the Permitted Zone, provided they enter into a special contractual agreement with Mexico’s Secretariat of Foreign Affairs (SecretarÃa de Relaciones Exteriores) (“SRE”), known as an “Article 27 Permit” (Permiso ArtÃculo 27 Constitucional). In this agreement, the foreigner applies to the SRE to be treated as a Mexican national; to recognize implicitly that any disputes arising out of said real estate are to be resolved by Mexican courts based on Mexican law; and, in particular, not to invoke the protection of his or her own foreign government in legal issues involving the real estate in question, under penalty of forfeiting the real estate in favor of the Mexican government.
The above-mentioned restrictions are found in the first paragraph of Article 27 (I) of the Federal Constitution, which reads:
Only Mexicans by birth or by naturalization and Mexican commercial societies [i.e., companies] have the right to acquire ownership of lands, waters and their accessions, or to obtain concessions for the exploitation of mines and waters. The state may grant the same right to foreigners, provided they agree before the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs to consider themselves as [Mexican] nationals with respect to said properties and not to invoke the protection of their governments in matters relating thereto; under penalty, in case of violation of the agreement, of forfeiting to the benefit of the Nation the properties they had acquired by virtue of said agreement. Under no circumstances may foreigners acquire ownership of lands or waters within a strip of one hundred kilometers along the [international] borders and fifty along the coastline.
It is difficult to find such an outright prohibition regarding the acquisition of real estate by foreign nationals in the constitution of any other country. However, despite the harshness of the language, the manner in which this constitutional prohibition is interpreted and applied makes the prohibition in question no prohibition at all. Today Mexico allows foreign individuals and foreign companies to use, possess, and enjoy real estate in accordance and full compliance with Mexican law throughout the Republic of Mexico. This apparent legal contradiction or departure from such a strict constitutional “prohibition” requires a brief explanation.
From a historical viewpoint, the original prohibition on foreigners owning real estate in Mexico can be traced back to the early years of a young independent nation, when the prohibition especially applied to certain strategic areas such as the international borders and the lengthy Mexican coastline. At that time, it was fully respected and enforced. Although protecting strategic concerns was the original intention of the legally mandated prohibition, that intention became subject to a more flexible or practical interpretation when Mexico realized that it needed foreign investment, which was often attracted to real estate along the picturesque Mexican coastline and in the international border with the United States. Such foreign interest in Mexican real estate was dissuaded by the stern constitutional prohibition. This prompted President Luis EcheverrÃa Alvarez to allow a lawful exception cleverly crafted to legally counteract the severe prohibition found in the language of paragraph I of Article 27.
Thus, in 1973, President EcheverrÃa enacted Mexico’s first Foreign Investment Act (Ley para Promover la InversiÃ³n Mexicana y Regular la InversiÃ³n Extranjera), which permitted foreign legal entities and foreign nationals to use, possess, and enjoy the real estate along the border and along the coastline by relying on the use of the U.S. legal notion of a real estate trust contract (fideicomiso). American companies and American retirees, by entering into fideicomisos, were legally allowed under Mexican law to have “only the beneficiary rights” to real estate throughout the Republic of Mexico (including what was then known as the Prohibited Zone) without having the “direct ownership” (dominio). Therefore, because foreign legal entities and foreign individuals were only granted “beneficiary rights” and not “direct ownership” over a piece of real estate, there was no violation of the language in Article 27 of the Federal Constitution. This was the pioneering and creative legal interpretation that opened the window to foreign investment in Mexican real estate.
Today, pursuant to Mexico’s Foreign Investment Act of 1993 and the corresponding regulations of 1998, American companies (and other foreign legal entities) are permitted to have the “dominion of immovable assets” (dominio de bienes inmuebles or direct ownership over real estate) located in the Restricted Zone, for “non-residential activities” (actividades no residenciales), by informing the SRE of the situation “within sixty days of the acquisition.”
Furthermore, the Foreign Investment Act permits American companies (and other foreign legal entities), as well as foreign individuals, to enter into fideicomisos real estate trust contracts with the SRE to enjoy the use of beneficiary rights (instead of direct ownership) in the Restricted Zone for residential purposes (fines residenciales).
American companies and individual citizens also may acquire the direct ownership of real estate located in the Permitted Zone (i.e., outside the Restricted Zone or fuera de la Zona Restringida) pursuant to the Foreign Investment Act. In both cases, American companies and citizens must enter into the Article 27 Permit mandated by the Federal Constitution.
In principle, it appears that the provisions of the Foreign Investment Act and its regulations legally allowing American companies and U.S. citizens to have direct ownership over ocean-front properties for nonresidential purposes, or the enjoyment of beneficiary rights through fideicomisos within the Restricted Zone, are contrary to the tenor of Article 27 of Mexico’s Federal Constitution, which is unambiguous in mandating: “Under no circumstances may foreigners acquire ownership of lands or waters [el dominio directo sobre tierras y aguas] within a strip of one hundred kilometers along the [international] borders and fifty along the coastline.” However, the explanation is that Mexico needs a steady flow of foreign investment to sustain its social and economic development, and that the United States is by far the largest foreign investor in Mexico. Accordingly, without having to amend Article 27â€”one of the bastions of Mexican nationalism enshrined in the Constitutionâ€”the government of Mexico provided a pragmatic legal loophole through the more flexible and modern language of the Foreign Investment Act of 1993. Pursuant to this federal actâ€”and in accordance with its regulations, enacted five years laterâ€”the much needed foreign investment along the border with the United States and in ocean-front areas, which for decades have been the clearly preferred areas for foreign investors, is now allowed to take place without having to amend the more “solemn” and “historical” language of the Constitution.
Fortunately, in recent years winds of change are beginning to be felt in Mexico and more modern ideas are timidly emerging, including the belief that Mexico should consider adopting a new Federal Constitution more in accord with twenty-first century notions. Some proposals have been made not to use constitutional amendments to include topics or detailed provisions that would be more properly included in secondary legislation. In this regard it has been proposed, for example, that numerous legal provisions that prohibit, restrict, or limit the rights of foreigners in Mexico, including the so-called Calvo Doctrine considered by many to be an obsolete historical relic, be eliminated.
Whereas some Mexicans think that the prohibition in paragraph I of Article 27 is too generous because they are of the opinion that foreigners and foreign companies should not be permitted to buy, own, or possess any real estate in Mexico, the large majority of Mexican investors and business persons believe that the country would benefit more and develop more rapidly if few or no legal barriers were erected in laws, statutes, or codes limiting or regulating foreign investment. The legal framework applicable to foreign investment in Mexico is currently an important but sensitive issue for the administration of the Panista President Felipe CalderÃ³n, whose term runs through 2012.
D. Numerous Federal Statutes Regulate Foreigners and Their Activities in Mexico
In Mexico, a traditional and common practice in place since 1917, when the Federal Constitution was enacted, has been to use the tenor of the multiple constitutional provisions that impose prohibitions, restrictions, or limitations on foreigners (and foreign companies) as the legal justification for federal statutes that expand in greater detail such limitations. These statutesâ€”known as leyes reglamentarias derivadas de un artÃculo constitucionalâ€”regulatory statutes derived from a constitutional provisionâ€”are exemplified by the statutes that implement Article 27 of the Federal Constitution, which reads in part:
Regarding oil, and solid, liquid or gaseous hydrocarbons, or radioactive minerals, no concessions or contracts will be granted nor may those that have been granted continue, and the Nation shall carry out the exploitation of these products, in accordance with the terms indicated in the respective Regulatory statute.
From this language, Mexico’s Federal Congress enacted two specific federal statutes prescribing that the commercial exploitation of oil and hydrocarbons, and of radioactive minerals, is exclusively in the hands of the Mexican federal government, as these natural resources are considered to be under the country’s exclusive ownership. Thus, in these areas, foreign investment has been openly rejected.
As mentioned earlier, Mexico’s Federal Congress, pursuant to the exclusive powers granted by Article 73 of the Constitution on federal matters, has enacted numerous statutes imposing certain limitations on foreign nationals and foreign legal entities concerning, among other things, foreign investment, immigration, education, navigation, mining, civil aviation, electric energy, and firearms and explosives.
Article 73 also empowers the Mexican Congress to enact legislation in the areas of nationality, legal status of foreigners, citizenship, naturalization, colonization, immigration and emigration, and the general health of the Republic; general means of communication; all kinds of schools and education, archaeological, artistic, and historical monuments; foreign trade, electric energy, gasoline, forestry exploitation, and beer production and consumption; economic actions; foreign investment and technology transfer; sports; tourism; and national security.