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Back You are here: Home News News National Mexico ‘frees’ impounded boats amid huge damage to nautical tourism

Mexico ‘frees’ impounded boats amid huge damage to nautical tourism

Mexico’s federal government has promised no repeat of the mass seizure of foreign-owned boats that took place in marinas around the country at the end of November.

All 53 foreign-owned boats impounded by tax office agents last year at the Marina Riviera Nayarit in La Cruz de Huancaxtle were liberated on Thursday, January 30.

Days later, other boats were also released at marinas up and down the coast, including at least 30 at the Marina Coral in Ensenada.

According to, more than 100 of the original 338 boats are still impounded. “The situation remains outrageous, but at least things have been picking up speed in the right direction,” the website noted.

Experts in foreign commerce say that agents from the  Administración General de Auditoría de Comercio Exterior (AGACE), a sub-agency of Hacienda (Mexico’s tax agency), acted illegally by placing an embargo on vessels that supposedly did not have the correct documentation for docking in Mexico. Some have called for the officials to be sanctioned for overstepping their duties.

Unsurprisingly, a thaw in the tax agency’s hard-line stance came soon after leading Mexico City dailies ran front-page stories on the issue, criticizing Hacienda for blowing a few minor transgressions way out of proportion.

The AGACE’s actions have seriously damaged nautical tourism to Mexico – at least in the short term. After the 300-plus boats were impounded, dozens of others sailed back home to the United States and Canada, fearing the worst.  Many more boaters cancelled planned trips south during the current high season.  Several regattas in Mexico were also struck off the itinerary due to the uncertainty. The outcry in the foreign boating community should not come as a surprise to Mexico.  Many of the alleged “irregularities” discovered by  AGACE agents were in fact handwritten errors in the 50-dollar import permits (some VIN numbers on the engines were not exactly the same as written in the permit, for example) – nothing serious that warranted such severe action. Theoretically, the boats can be seized permanently and sold off at auction, although few people believe this is likely.

Guillermo Ruiz de Teresa, the federal government’s coordinator of ports and marinas, told media representatives this week that “we are fixing the problem … it won’t continue. On the contrary, we will arrange things so that even more yachts come to this country.”


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