Commerce News A Mexican Beach Fire Sale?

Published 16 August 07 03:31 PM
 Mexican Beach Fire Sale?

Editor's Note: Today's article is the first part in a

series about economic, environmental and security issues

involving Mexico's coastal borders. 

  A senator from Baja California Sur is pushing legislation

that would remove constitutional restrictions on direct

foreign ownership of lands situated within 50 kilometers of

Mexico's coasts. Senator Luis Alberto Coppola Joffroy  a

member of President Felipe Calderon's National Action Party

(PAN), is expected to introduce the measure in the Mexican

Congress this week. If approved, the constitutional  reform

will eliminate a long-standing law that was crafted to

protect Mexican sovereignty from foreign encroachment.

Many coastal properties are indirectly owned by foreigners

who purchase through trust funds administered by banks.

Arguing that new global economic and political conditions

favor the lifting of all ownership restrictions, Senator

Coppola contends that friendly legislation would boost

economic growth.

  "It will open up a new, very profitable opportunity for

foreign and national investors, with the goal of creating a

more solid market," Senator Coppola said.

  An unsuccessful candidate for the governorship of Baja

California Sur in 2005,  Senator Coppola presides over the

Mexican Senate's tourism commission. In his private life,

he is an owner of the Coppola Hotel Group and a long-time

promoter of tourism in the Baja Peninsula.  

  The PAN senator's proposal is sparking sharp polemics in

the national  press and in high political circles. In the

Mexican Congress, the National Front of Rural Sector

Legislators has firmly come out against a constitutional

reform of coastal ownership nationality requirements. 

  Citing the creeping loss of coastal ejido lands and the

privatization of beaches in Cancun and elsewhere, the

lawmaker's group views Senator Coppola's proposed reform as

an assault on the rights of indigenous Mexicans.

  "Hundreds of complaints exist about the surrender of

coastal zones to foreigners, and the government has not

defended either the national patrimony or indigenous

people,  who are not allowed to sell their arts and crafts

even after being stripped of their lands," said Senator

Heladio Elias Ramirez Lopez, president of the rural

legislators' group. 

  Claiming indigenous Mixtec descent, Senator Ramirez is a

member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, a former

governor of Oaxaca and the current leader of the National

Campesino Federation.

  Ramirez disputed Senator Coppola's position that a

constitutional reform would trigger economic

development. "It happens," he said, "but in a fragmented

and generalized way."

  Senator Coppola, who made headlines earlier this year for

his vocal opposition to new environmental regulations meant

to protect sharks and rays, unveiled his legislative plans

during a time of feverish development along Mexico's


  On all coasts, posh luxury resorts, towering new

condominiums,  breathtaking private villas and giant cruise

ship terminals increasingly crowd the landscape. North

American, Spanish, Japanese and other  investors are

betting the beach sands will turn gold. 

  Even gritty Acapulco, which was rocked by bouts of narco-

violence from 2005 to early 2007, is experiencing an

intense pace of real estate and commercial development.

  "For the second year in a row, we have achieved first place

in private sector investments," Acapulco Mayor Felix

Salgado Macedonio told Frontera NorteSur earlier this

summer. "There are big developments in Acapulco's Zona


  From Baja California in the north to Cancun in the south,

residential tourist properties constitute a hot spot in the

coastal real estate market. A recent market analysis by the

CB Richard Ellis firm estimated sales in Mexico's 

residential tourist sector reached $5 billion in 2006, a

figure stunningly  above the $3 billion in sales which were

anticipated for last year. According to the company, annual

sales of residential properties could soar from an average

5,000 units to 20,000 units in the next five years.

  CB Richard Ellis ranked Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, Ensenada-

Rosarito, Acapulco, Puerto Penasco, Los Cabos, and Mazatlan

as the most popular residential sales locations. The

company's study calculated that 70 percent of the new

buyers are foreigners, principally Canadian and US

citizens, while only 30 percent are Mexican nationals.

  "Mexico offers US citizens the possibility of acquiring the

kinds of homes they used to purchase for the same prices

and same sizes in the United States, but which have doubled

in cost and been reduced in size during recent years," said

Manuel Garnacho, director of corporate services for CB

Richard Ellis' Latin American and Caribbean division.


 Article by 

Karla Ramirez.

Frontera NorteSur (FNS): on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news

Center for Latin American and Border Studies

New Mexico State University

Las Cruces, New Mexico


# Jimmy Rollins said on December 3, 2007 11:45 PM:

I am very concerned about crime in Northern Baja. I have just canceled my families annual trip to Cantamar. We have been going for a week for the last 11 years, but won't go back until something is done about the crime. As a real estate person can you do something?

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