I moved to Mexico almost a year ago and I am enjoying learning everything I can about my new home.
It was raining most of the day yesterday, so I thought it was a good opportunity to learn a little more. I decided to Google “interesting facts about Mexico” and I received over 23,000,000 results. I read through a few of the sites and they were all very similar in one respect – they were boring.
Perhaps it is just me. Perhaps my definition of “interesting” is far different from that that of the masses. I just did not find it very interesting that Mexico introduced chocolate to the world or that Mexico is home of the volcano rabbit. Obviously, someone out there finds them interesting because people keep repeating these facts in blog after blog. That is when I was inspired to make a list of five facts about Mexico that I personally found interesting.
I pondered making a list with ten items but it looks like the weather might clear up and the beach is calling me. I guess you will just have to settle for five for now.
1. Spanish is not the official language
Mexico does not have an official language and there has been resistance to naming one because there are still so many indigenous languages spoken around the country. According to the Catálogo de las lenguas indígenas nacionales, there are 11 language families, 68 language groups, and over 364 variations. On a personal note, I have been studying Mayan.
In 2003, Mexico enacted the Law of Linguistic Rights of Indigenous People (Ley general de derechos lingüísticos de los pueblos indígenas). Article 7 of that law says that the indigenous languages, as well as Spanish, are valid for any public matter or trámite (application or procedure).
I can see where this law could cause some problems at a government office when someone submits a request in Nahuatl (the language of the Aztecs).
2. At least 90% of the employees at every business must be Mexican
Article 7 of the Federal Labor Law: In every business or establishment, at least 90% of the workers must be Mexican. If there are no Mexicans available with the specialized training, the business can temporarily hire foreign workers; however, the business and the foreign workers have an obligation to train Mexicans in the specialty. This section does not apply to directors, administrators or general managers.
There are also jobs that only Mexicans are allowed to hold. To read more about that, check out Surprising Jobs Off-limits to Foreigners.
3. Pseudoephedrine is a controlled substance in Mexico
This is the active ingredient in products like Actifed, Sudafed and Claritin-D. In 2007, Mexico placed restrictions on the sale and importation of this substance.
On March 4, 2015, an American tourist was arrested in Customs in Puerto Vallarta when officials located a box of Wal-phed nasal decongestant in his luggage. On March 28, 2016, another American was arrested at the same airport for possession of about 8 Sudafed pills. More on that here: Kaysville woman jailed in Mexico over Sudafed pills.
On the official web site for the U.S. Embassies & Consulates in Mexico, there is a warning that such medications are illegal. The site does recommend carrying a prescription or doctor’s note; however, the possibility of arrest still exists even with one of these documents. Consular advisory: Information regarding bringing medications into Mexico.
4. Exhibited prices for goods and services must be the total price to be paid
This is required under the Federal Consumer Protection Law (Ley Federal de Protección al Consumidor). This means that the price displayed must already include all taxes, commissions, interest, insurance or any other charge that the person may be required to pay. In a nutshell, you pay only whats on the price tag or advertisement.
If you have been following my blog, then you already know that I am a big fan of the consumer laws in Mexico. I love this particular section of the law and I wish that we had the same law in the United States.
I can remember signing up for my $50 a month T-Mobile cellphone plan in the U.S. only to discover later that the bill would be $105 a month. The new price was due to the addition of sales tax, state communications tax, federal communications tax, 911 tax etc. I think that this practice is deceptive and unfair to the consumer.
Knowing the consumer laws has saved me quite a bit of money while living in Mexico. When a business has tried to overcharge me, I quoted the appropriate section of the law – along with the huge fine amount – and voila, the problem was resolved.
5. Foreigners are prohibited from “meddling” in political affairs
Article 33 of the Mexican Constitution strictly prohibits foreigners from getting involved, in any way, with political matters in the country. The penalty for this one is deportation. By the way, this includes you folks with temporary or permanent visas.
If you are a foreigner, you may want to think twice before participating in a political march, signing a political petition, or otherwise involving yourself publicly in political matters.
In case you are wondering if the Mexican government really enforces this one, the answer is yes. Laura Bozeman, who is originally from Peru, is a popular talk show host in Mexico. She is currently under investigation and faces possible deportation for making statements on her show that people should not vote for a particular political party.
Let’s Wrap This Up
Hopefully, you found at least one of these facts interesting. If not, you may want to go and check out one of the sites that mentions volcano rabbits.