Red tape from car fee snarl border traffic (computer problem) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


Red Tape From Car Fee Snarls Border Traffic Mexico: Travelers face long delays under new system as computer fails to print out required documents.

By KEN ELLINGWOOD, Times Staff Writer

TIJUANA--There was plenty of grousing and even more waiting Wednesday as motorists lined up at the border on the first day of a new program requiring car owners headed into the Mexican interior to provide a vehicle deposit of $400 to $800. Although the controversial deposit instituted by the Mexican federal government does not apply to Baja California, some Southern Californians pass through Tijuana on their way to other parts of Mexico. Others came Wednesday to the San Ysidro border crossing to take care of the paperwork ahead of holiday trips to visit relatives in Mexico. What they found were long waits as Mexican officials overseeing the new system wrestled with a computer glitch that kept them from printing out the permits for nearly four hours. Anna Martinez, who teaches kindergarten in Santa Ana, and her parents arrived at 6 a.m. outside the Mexican bank office where permits are granted. By noon, she still had not been able to pay the $400 deposit required for the 1993 Jeep Cherokee the family plans to take to Nayarit state later this month. Martinez had already tried to get her vehicle permit Saturday to avoid the new deposit, but was turned back by huge crowds of people with the same idea. Martinez surveyed the crowd of 50 or so milling outside the bank and declared the new process horrible. She said the Mexican officials should have been better prepared. "All of us thought it was going to be a fast process, so we didn't mind paying the money," Martinez said. Under the system, designed to prevent U.S.-registered cars from being imported illegally, visitors are supposed to get their deposits back in cash if they cross back into the United States within six months. Those who travel anywhere in Mexico within 12 miles of the international border are exempt. The new deposit, which ranges from $400 for pre-1994 vehicles to $800 for 1999 and 2000 models, has come under fire in Mexico and prompted widespread criticism north of the border from members of Congress and groups representing Mexican immigrants. Many fear that the requirement, coming as tens of thousands of U.S. residents prepare to make their annual Christmas pilgrimage, will curb travel to the Mexican interior and hurt tourism. The new rule may already be curtailing traffic across the U.S.-Mexico border. Officials in Tijuana said the number of applicants Wednesday was lower than usual. In Nuevo Laredo, Mexican customs official Eric Alvarez said only 107 car permits had been issued by midday--far below the usual daily rate of 2,000 cars. At the Mexican Consulate in Chicago, about 70 protesters decried the new deposit rule. Activists in other cities, including Los Angeles, have threatened boycotts of Mexican products. U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas) urged President Clinton on Tuesday to raise the deposit issue in talks with Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo planned for next week. "It is simply wrong," Reyes said. The Mexican government says the deposit will help bar importation of stolen cars and shield Mexico's domestic automobile industry from cheap U.S. vehicles sold or left as gifts by seasonal visitors from the United States. Officials estimate that as many as 1.5 million such cars and trucks, called "chocolates," are circulating on Mexico's highways. Last week, amid controversy from peasant groups who say they rely on such vehicles, the Mexican government announced it would allow farmers to legally import U.S. pickup trucks that are more than 10 years old. For nearly a week, the Tijuana border office was swamped by hundreds of people seeking permits under the former system in which travelers paid only an $11 fee. Workers at the Banjercito, the Mexican military bank that issues the permits, toiled until 3:30 a.m. Wednesday to clear that backlog, said manager Rafael Causor Mendoza. By noon, Causor and a team of six employees had the computer running properly and were issuing the first of the new permits. Cash or credit cards can be used for the deposit. Standing in line, Ramon Hernandez and Gilberto Sanchez fell into a debate over the new law. Hernandez, a Chula Vista retiree, viewed it as a good way to block illegal cars. Sanchez, an Escondido resident, said contraband cars were not a problem in Queretaro, the central Mexican state where he plans to visit relatives. Carmen Avery, owner of a San Diego coffee shop, found the law reasonable, but not the wait. After submitting copies of documents--U.S. citizenship, car registration, insurance and others--at one window, she was sent to another to pay the $400 deposit and a nonrefundable $16.50 processing fee. She plunked down cash and got a hologram windshield sticker. However, the key test will come in a month or so, when Avery returns from Hermosillo and seeks to get her deposit back. "That's the most important thing," she said. * * * Times researcher Jose Diaz in Mexico City contributed to this story.

-- Homer Beanfang (, December 02, 1999


Thanks, once again, Homer. I'm printing that out for a friend who is heading down there for the holidays. You're the MAN!!

-- Guy Daley (, December 02, 1999.

Thank you Homer!!!

I do not always take the time to post a reply but your posts are extremely important....adding pixels to the picture. Take care Homer, we appreciate you alot!!


-- 1200dpi (, December 02, 1999.

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