Speeches and protocol in Mexico

17 11 2006

Speeches for private industry, trade association and government events are quite common in Mexico.

  • Every event is started with a speech, or number of speeches from local, state or federal government officials, association presidents or high ranking members or the corresponding private industry equivalents.
  • Generally when a speech is given in Mexico to a group, formal protocol is followed.
  • For larger events a professional master of ceremonies will be hired to make the speaker introductions and keep the event moving.
  • Each speaker thanks and acknowledges by name and title each member sharing the stage or table of honor.
  • Mention of each member should be given by rank. Highest ranking official or member first, followed by the others in descending order.
  • Speeches in Mexico tend to be long. Government officials tend to give lots of numbers and statistics. Despite the audience’s desire to hear a short, focused discourse.
  • It is considered rude to take cell phone calls, carry on conversations with your neighbor, crack jokes or not pay attention during the speeches. If you can’t tolerate it, excuse yourself and leave the room.
  • Often invited guests and members sharing the podium do not have anything important to say, they are invited as a courtesy or as part of the political/social protocol.
  • After the initial speeches are over, some government officials may leave for other events.
  • Use these opportunities to network and exchange business cards. It is often easier to make initial contact with important figures at an event instead of via telephone calls and emails to their office.

Related Links

International business – cultural mistakes

Create great international business relationships

Advice on what to expect when doing business with Mexico

Meeting people in Mexico – kiss, shake hands or hug?





Mexican currency, monetary policy and financial systems – BANXICO

16 11 2006

Everything you want to know about Mexican monetary policy, Mexican financial and payment systems, Mexican currency, Mexican banknotes and Mexican coins can be found at the Banco de Mexico site:  BANXICO English language website.

BANXICO: “Banco de México is the central Bank of Mexico. Under the Constitution, it is autonomous in its operations and management. Its main function is to provide currency to the domestic economy. In discharging this task, the Bank’s priority is to ensure the stability of the currency’s purchasing power. Its other functions are to promote both the sound development of the financial system and the optimal functioning of the payment systems.”

The BANXICO site includes detailed sections on:

Need to know what the currency and coins currently in circulation in Mexico look like? Check out the sections entitled

Related Links

BANXICO Foreign Exchange Market

BANXICO Securities Market

BANXICO Inflation





Corruption in Mexico

15 11 2006

Corruption in Mexico.

Quite a bit of interest generated from the piece regarding corruption and bribery in Mexico. Corruption, bribes, mordidas, tips – Doing Business in Mexico

Don Gringo says “Mexico possibly has one of the best governments anyone could buy. And cheap, too.” Catemaco News and Commentary

Bernard Wasow writes in the Globalist “It is no secret that the at law enforcement in Mexico is a “for-profit” business.” Greasing Palms: Corruption in Mexico.

Wide Angle presents a Corruption Chart; How big is Mexico’s problem. Which gives a great state by state overview and comparison of corruption levels in Mexico.

A quote from the page: “According to anti-corruption czar Francisco Barrio, the cost of corruption by government officials and by everyday Mexicans surpassed the amount budgeted for education by more than three percentage points — some 9.5 percent of Mexico’s GDP of $550 billion. Recent studies by the World Economic Forum, an international organization that works to improve worldwide economic conditions, found that the business environment such as rule of law, transparency and corruption were disincentives for foreign investment in Mexico. Corruption, which is often described as a tax, adds to the cost of doing business. The Opacity Index, a study conducted by Pricewaterhouse Coopers, found that Mexico lost $8.5 billion in foreign direct investments in 1999 due to corruption and other suspect legal or economic practices.”

Corruption exists in every country in the world, in politics, in business, in everyday life. In some countries it’s more sophisticated or hidden, in others it’s obvious and required in order to get things done. Mexico is no exception.

People seem to ignore corruption in their own countries, and react with shock and anger to corruption in others.

Depending on where you live in Mexico, what you are trying to do, and who you are dealing with, your experience with corruption and bribery will not echo anyone else.

Evaluation of Mexico, China, Brazil, India or any other country as a potential business location or market should include an analysis of how corruption will threaten and affect your operations, efficiency and bottom line.

Your organization should have a clear understanding of the situation and create a set of rules governing how to deal with the reality and any situations that might arise.

You have to ask and answer the question, “do I want my organization to participate and be involved in corruption and bribery, and at what levels”?

Get advice and information from local businesspeople and consultants on the reality of corruption and bribery. Learn how the culture deals with it, detects it and punishes it before you commit to a strategy, path or action plan.

Related Links

How to do business in Mexico, Parts 1 – 28

Tipping guidelines for Mexico

Doing Business in Mexico – cultural tips

World Corruption Perception Index – 2006

Patience chaos and doing business in Mexico





Questions – Answers, Doing business in Mexico

14 11 2006

Have any questions about how to do business in Mexico?

Any specific problems or dilemmas related to doing business in Mexico?

Questions about the business culture in Mexico or Mexican culture in general?

Would you like to know more about a specific theme related to Mexican business?

Need references or information about organizations, people or associations in Mexico?

Send your questions to me at   lee.iwan  at  gmail.com
or post a comment here.

Related Links

How to do business in Mexico

Official government websites of the 32 Mexican States 

The definitive dialing guide for calling Mexico

Shorten your learning curve about Mexico

Business South of the Border





How to speed up business decisions in Mexico

13 11 2006

When doing business in Mexico, one of the fundamental complaints I hear from non-Mexican business people is the speed at which business in transacted.

They say there are 5 speeds to the Mexican economy, I believe they also apply to negotiations in Mexico.

1. Slow.

2. Slower.

3. Stalled.

4. Going in reverse.

5. Dead.

It can be quite frustrating, but it is part of Mexican business culture.

There are several options available that may help speed up the decision-making process in Mexico.

  • Make certain you are both working for the same goal. Write it down, discuss it, and determine that everyone is seeking the same thing. There should not be any hidden agendas.
  • Set fixed and specific dates when the data or information must be available or the decision will be made. Get personal commitments from the other participants. Don’t settle for vague answers, get them to agree in public to bring the specific data or make the decision on a specific date. Personal, not institutional responsibility.
  • Does everyone have all the information required to make the decision? Write down what is missing and assign responsible parties and dates for completion.
  • Follow-up with phone calls and written communication and verify that everything is running on schedule. You will have to dedicate more time to “motivating” or “prodding” than you are used to in your own country.
  • Don’t get angry. If there is no decision it is because of a reason you don’t understand or hasn’t been verbalized. Anger is seen as threatening, and not part of a good relationship, it will hurt you more than help you.
  • Be patient. It always takes longer than you think it will.
  • Keep up the communications, in fact increase them. Contact all the team members involved, try and discuss the project or decision informally (outside of the office or work environment).
  • It might be the money. When everything looks perfect, and still no decision, it might be due to money (or lack of it). Try and discuss this privately with the head decision-maker.
  • It might be the risk or control involved. Bring the subject out in the open and discuss the risks and control issues involved for both sides. This is best done informally with the team members, one on one.
  • It might be NO. Mexicans do not like to say no or give bad news in certain situations. They believe it is impolite, and many times will not respond or will allow the situation to continue until it fades away without a “yes or no” decision being made.

Related Links

Patience Chaos and doing business in Mexico

Doing Business in Mexico – cultural tips

How to negotiate with Mexican business people

How to do business in Mexico





What does Gringo mean

8 11 2006

The term “Gringo” is used in Mexico to refer to Americans. Depending upon it’s use (and user) it may or may not be an insult.

My experience with the term in Mexico is that it is a convenient way to refer to Americans, much shorter that “Americano” or “Norte Americano”. Most of the time it’s use is not offensive or meant as a derogatory or demeaning remark.

Many Mexicans will not use the term around Americans thinking that it might offend. Even after establishing friendships when the term “Gringo” is used, often someone will apologize.

Where did the term originate? There are several stories, urban myths and rumours:

From Wikipedia: “A recurring false etymology for the derivation of gringo states that it originated during the Mexican-American War of 1846-48. It has been claimed that Gringo comes from “green coat” and was used in reference to the American soldiers and the green color of their uniforms. Yet another story, from Mexico, holds that Mexicans with knowledge of the English language used to write “greens go home” on street walls referring to the color of the uniforms of the invading army; subsequently, it became a common habitual action for the rest of the population to yell “green go” whenever U.S. soldiers passed by. This is an example of an invented explanation, because gringo was used in Spanish long before the war and during the Mexican-American War. Additionally, the U.S. Army did not use green uniforms at the time, but blue ones.

Another legend maintains that one of two songs – either “Green Grow the Lilacs” or “Green Grow the Rushes, O” – was popular at the time and that Mexicans heard the invading U.S. troops singing “Green grow…” and contracted this into gringo.

From the Snopes Urban Legends Reference Pages: “Although the first recorded use of “gringo” in English dates from 1849 (when John Woodhouse Audubon, the son of the famous nature artist, wrote that “We were hooted and shouted at as we passed through, and called ‘Gringoes'”), the word was known in Spanish well before the Mexican-American War. According to Rawson, the Diccionario Castellano of 1787 noted that in Malaga “foreigners who have a certain type of accent which keeps them from speaking Spanish easily and naturally” were referred to as gringos, and the same term was used in Madrid, particularly for the Irish. 

The true origin of gringo is most likely that it came from griego, the Spanish word for “Greek.” In Spanish, as in English, something difficult or impossible to understand is referred to as being Greek: We say “It’s Greek to me,” just as in Spanish an incomprehensible person is said to hablar en griego (i.e., “speak in Greek”).”

According to the Real Academia Española (the ultimate reference for the Spanish language): 1. Adjective: Foreigner, especially one who speaks English, in general one who speaks a language other than Spanish. 2. Foreigner 3. In Mexico, Cuba, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua an American 4. In Bolivia, Honduras, Nicaragua and Peru a blond fair skinned person 5. Unintelligible language
Related Links

Doing business in Mexico – cultural tips

Doing Business in Mexico, parts 1 – 28





Corruption, bribes, mordidas, tips – Doing business in Mexico

7 11 2006

There are perceptions and realities associated with bribery and corruption when doing business in Mexico.

Corruption, bribery, “mordidas” (translated as “bites”, but are actually bribes) and tips are part of Mexico and the foreigner’s perception of Mexico.

It’s a difficult subject to address because it involves ethical and moral decisions for the foreign visitor or business person. What is culturally OK in Mexico, may be seen as immoral and corrupt by an individual from another country.

Historically, corruption in Mexico is blamed upon the Spanish conquistadors. While corruption no doubt existed prior to the Spanish conquest, they certainly did institutionalize it in government and throughout the Mexican (and Latin American) culture.

Today corruption, bribery and tipping occur at all levels of Mexican society and at many different degrees. For one reason or another it has become part of daily life. Most of it involves small sums of money, and is thought of as tipping and not as a bribe.

In fact, to eliminate corruption in Mexico overnight is unrealistic and would probably result in chaos. As some Mexican observers have noted, “La mordida” is the grease that makes the system work.

All of the following might occur in Mexico. Which of the following are acts of corruption or bribery? Which are totally unethical, somewhat unethical, and no big deal? Which of these events occurs in your country ?

  • The garbage collectors come by every 2 weeks, rings the doorbell and ask for money for a soft drink, US $1 or $2.
  • While waiting in a long line, someone comes up to you and asks if you would like to avoid the line and be attended right away. It will cost US $ 5 to US $ 10, and save you 2 hours.
  • Your application for a permit/license has been in the government office for several weeks, and no one seems to be able to tell you what is wrong. The secretary asks if you would like to buy a raffle ticket for some organization. After buying the ticket the application suddenly appears.
  • You visit a local political leader and take him to dinner and a theater event to discuss your project.
  • At holiday time, you send gifts to politicians, suppliers and business associates.
  • Your daughter copies exam answers from another student at school.
  • The police stop you for a traffic violation (which may or may not have occurred). They suggest that for US $ 20 or $ 50 you can make it disappear, and you’ll be on your way in 5 minutes.
  • You need government agency approvals for your business project. In order to make sure everything is done correctly, you hire an official in the department as a consultant.
  • You require a zoning change on a piece of land, you invite a government official to participate as an investor in the project, or perhaps give him some shares.
  • Your son or daughter wants to get into a nightclub, the doorman says no. They give him US $ 5 and walk right in.
  • A city inspector finds code violations in your restaurant. A call to a family member, who knows someone, who knows someone, results in the violations being revoked.
  • A drug enforcement agent receives a phone call that tells him to choose between accepting USD $ 20,000 payment this year to let a drug shipment go by unharmed or to have his children shot.
  • Your immigration papers are not quite right. There is a document missing. You are able to convince the official (though words and tears) to “overlook” the situation, no money is exchanged.

Can you live and work in Mexico and not pay bribes? Yes. (I’m lived and worked in Mexico over the past 14 years and have never paid a “mordida” in my private or business life.)

Are bribes necessary for doing business in Mexico? I think it depends on the circumstances. Most business can be done without them. It depends on you, and your evaluation of the situation. There must be certain areas where influence peddling, and “mordidas” are an integral part of the business, and other areas where it’s not required in the least. This is not unique to Mexico.

All Mexican local, state and federal governments and government agencies are not corrupt. In fact, in the past 10 years there have been great advances in transparency in government, including guarantees for the time involved in processing applications and permissions.

Mexican federal public policy and local and state governments have been actively reducing and eliminating institutionalized corruption and penalizing government workers involved in illegal acts. There is still a long way to go before it’s completely eliminated, but there has been a noticeable change in many areas.

Mexico’s poverty, unequal distribution of wealth, history and culture make it difficult to eradicate corruption overnight. Mexico is a country with many laws, but they are not well enforced. It’s similar to the temptation one might feel on the lonely country road at 3:00 AM and confronting a red light…..do you stop…or run through it?

You should develop and hold firm to your own ethical and moral principals in order to live and do business in Mexico. If you don’t do it at home, why would you do it in Mexico?

Your company should have a clear policy about corruption and bribery, and hold to it when doing business in Mexico, or internationally.

If you have any personal experiences or observations about corruption, bribery, mordidas and doing business in Mexico, please write me or comment here.
Related Links

How to do business in Mexico, Parts 1 – 28

Tipping guidelines for Mexico

Doing Business in Mexico – cultural tips

World Corruption Perception Index – 2006

Patience chaos and doing business in Mexico