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Mexico, to attract U.S. retirees, may ease limits on landownership

By Tim Johnson
McClatchy Foreign Staff

For the first time in nearly a century, lawmakers are moving to allow non-Mexicans to buy coastal real estate and hold the deeds to it, without having to set up bank trusts or find silent Mexican partners.

Ocean Front Real Estate in Mexico

Ocean Front Real Estate in Mexico

Proponents of the change say it pushes Mexico toward the modern era, and is a sign of ebbing nationalism under President Enrique Pena Nieto. They say it will help Mexico compete with Southern U.S. states and tropical Central America for U.S. retirees seeking spots in the sun and by the sea.

The proposed amendment to the Mexican Constitution sailed through the Chamber of Deputies on a 356-119 vote April 23, and is now before the Senate.

But opponents are still rallying, charging in a petition campaign that the change may condemn Mexicans to saying goodbye to ocean views.

“If just one of every 20 U.S. millionaires buys a house with 22 meters (72 feet) of beachfront, no Mexican will see the sea again,” the petition drive says, drawing on the nation’s historic allergy to foreign ownership of its resources.

The allergy has its roots in land grabs in the 19th and 20th centuries. After the 1917 Mexican revolution, legislators who drafted the nation’s constitution, fearing a new invasion by land or sea, barred foreigners from owning land within 31 miles of the coast or 62 miles of any border. Those strips of territory became known as the restricted zones. read more »