Sunday, January 12, 2014

It's News In Spokane -- January, 2014

When last you heard from These Intrepid Sailors, Abracadabra was on "The List" and prohibited from leaving the jurisdiction of the Capitania de Puerto of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Nayarit, Mexico. . . .   

and so she remains.  

In Prior Episodes:  

In December the Capitania orally informed us that, pursuant to instructions from Hacienda (the Mexican IRS), he would not issue written permission for Abracadabra to leave his jurisdiction. Marina Riviera Nayarit provided us with a copy of a Hacienda document (aka "The List") notifying the Capitania that over 50 vessels in the marina, including Abracadabra, are under embargo precautorio (precautionary embargo).  This document does not explain why any of the vessels were embargoed.  

For more on what we experienced first hand in November and December, and why we came to believe (and still believe) that Abracadabra has been caught up in an issue much larger than our one little boat -- see our prior two posts.  The big picture summary is that we don't really know why Abracadabra is on The List and we don't know who to talk to about changing her status.  So we're waiting for a big picture solution.

Abracadabra is not, and has never been, chained to the dock.  We remain here because to our knowledge we have not violated any laws of Mexico, and we don't want to start by leaving port without the Capitania's permission.  

So What's New:

We have been in e-mail contact with the U.S. Consul's Office and four days ago were told that meetings have taken place between representatives of the U.S. Government and the Mexican government and that we should be hearing from the Mexican government about our particular situation "in the near future".  When asked how to expect that contact (see prior posts - we believe the reason Abracadabra was put on The List originally was that we happened to be away when the government auditors arrived) the representative explained that the U.S. government was advocating on behalf of all of the more than 300 boats that had been embargoed and suggested that if we wanted individualized assistance, we hire a lawyer.
Two days ago the power of the press kicked in.  The publisher of Latitude 38, a popular sailing magazine published in the San Francisco Bay Area, has taken the story to the Associated Press.  The AP story about the embargo has been carried on Fox News, the Spokane  Spokesman-Review (we mean national coverage!), the San Francisco Chronicle, Yahoo-Canada, and Canada's National Post newspaper.  

We'd add links, but unfortunately, like many news stories, the AP report isn't entirely accurate. Our favorite part of the story is the description of the government auditors showing up with marines carrying machine guns.  As clarified in 'Lectronic Latitude, the auditors were very polite and not at all threatening. And marines with guns are a fairly common sight around marinas.  To put these guns in perspective we remember seeing U.S. Coast Guard inflatables with large and imposing mounted guns herding us away from the parade course during a San Francisco Bay Tall Ship event several years ago.  

Perhaps more accurately -- but galling nonetheless -- the AP referred to the owners of the majority of the embargoed boats as being in their "golden years", and the majority of the embargoed boats as "modest" 40-foot boats.  Gee - how adventuresome does Golden Years Sailing sound?  And if 40-feet is modest, what is little 36-foot Abracadabra?  Crushed.

Ego issues aside, we are concerned that the story may not pressure the Mexican government into anything other than intransigence.  But we are trying to remind ourselves that the best attitude to take is one of "wait and see".  

Life Goes On:

So here we are - waiting and seeing.  

Next week we plan a two night visit to a charming colonial mining town in the mountains - San Sebastian del Oeste.  That will require us to miss our Tuesday and Thursday Spanish lessons and some morning yoga, but Molly won't have to miss her resistance bands exercise classes.  [Ooooh . . . maybe we ARE Golden Years Sailors . . .]

We had a nice day sail last weekend and would have  gone sailing yesterday with our Spanish teacher visiting from Guanajuato, Rojelio Ganda, and his wife -- but it was cold and rainy.  So we did what one must to keep one's spirits up.  We ate almost a kilo of ceviche from the local fish market - yum.

Fish Market at La Cruz

We've seen a couple of very good Mexican movies at a local restaurant's Monday night movie showing: Nosotros Los Nobles and Sin Dejar Huellas.  Thankfully, they were shown with English subtitles.  Maybe next season, sin subtitulos?  

On New Year's Eve we had dinner with Bill and Nancy from WindRose.  

New Year's Eve at Frascati
Christmas  began with a big breakfast on Abracadabra, and opening our gifts to each other:

Our Tree and Gifts

Bryce - Christmas Morn

Later we had Christmas dinner with Norm and Candace on their boat, Kyalami.  Candace baked rolls, and made potatoes dauphinoise and a recipe called something like The Best Green Bean Casserole Ever -- which really was. Molly's ham wasn't too bad either.  Norm and Bryce seemed to like the wine . . . 

Chef Candace

Our Christmas gift from brothers-in-law Robert and Tom arrived a few days later, after clearing customs hurdles -- all five seasons of Breaking Bad.  We've watched two shows so far and think it may be difficult to avoid indulging in some binge DVD watching . . . 

So, life goes on, even under house arrest embargo.  But we do hope something happens this week, as serious wannagettravellingitis is beginning to set in.  

Hug A Civil Liberties Lawyer: 

Time for some soapbox stuff (isn't that why one operates a blog?):  We have been members of the American Civil Liberties Union for years and this situation only reminds us why.  Yes, we know we're in a different country with different laws.  We're not suggesting Mexico should change it's legal system.  But we are saying that this experience has made us even greater fans of the U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment.   [Note: That's where the government of the United States is prohibited from depriving someone of "liberty, or property" without "due process".]  And fans of the processes generally recognized as being "due" -- including notice of alleged violations and the right to contest or remedy same before being sanctioned.     

So, readers in the U.S. or Canada:  Give a big hug to your local civil liberties lawyer.  Or consider joining the ACLU or CCLU.  And Just in Case You Don't Think This Could Be Your Issue, Remember:  Being in compliance with the law is an effective defense ONLY if you are given an opportunity to prove that you are. 

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