Held Hostage In Mexico

8 Apr

For seven and a half hours, over two days we were held, not at gun point but at pen point at our bank in Chetumal, Mexico. Sign here, and here and here. I felt like I was buying a house. And all because of a TYPO!


Four years ago after retiring to Mexico from Austin, Texas , we opened a Mexican bank account. Once we had our green cards, it was the first things we did. Mexico has a very clear path to legal residency. If you have retirement income, a job or a familial connection, you can apply and obtain residency. The process is clear, electronic and takes about a month. Imagine that.


No, not our mug shots.

What we didn’t known until now is that there was a typo on our original account application. The bank’s simple solution, cancel the old account and open a new one. Easy right? Au contraire.

Following Spanish tradition, Mexicans have two last names or apellidos. The father’s first and then the mother’s. On any application there is a box for both. Since we have a different tradition and our passport have only one last name, for some unknown reason, the person who processed our original application put an “X” (or equis as in the beer Dos XX) in the box where my mother’s name should have been. We’re unsure as to why this finally caught up to us and had to be rectified immediately.


Don’t you love signing documents you can’t read?

Mind you the entire 7.5 hour process was conducted completely in Spanish. My head was swimming and there’s no bathroom in a bank. Our green cards and the fact that we had done thousands of dollars of business with this bank in the last four years did not seem to count as adequate identification and proof of residency. Did I mention the bank holds the title to our property? But that’s another never-ending story.

To our frustration, we could not find our most recent electric bill. Note to self and you who are considering retirement in Mexico, the CFE (Comisión Federal de Electricidad) bill is right up there with your green card as proof of residency. Keep the most recent original in your car at all times.


In that case, did we have a…
Water bill? Nope, we have a well.
Phone bill? Nope, we pay month to month. ($16 a month unlimited talk and text to MX, US and Canada)
Internet? Cable? Nope and nope. We pay cash to a private server and no cable.
Mexican drivers license? Never saw the need.


It’s a good thing we left the dogs home for what we thought was going to be a quick trip to the bank.

This went on for seven and a half hours over two days. I must admit, I’ve never met more patient people. We did get it resolved after lots of signing and sighing. They had new software…blah, blah, blah and I’m sure the paperwork for international money transfers contributed to the hostage situation. After all, we could be drug smugglers laundering our millions. We were exhausted but extremely glad to have this straightened out. It might be relatively easy to get a green card in Mexico but it sure isn’t easy to open a bank account.





11 Responses to “Held Hostage In Mexico”

  1. Jack Scott April 8, 2018 at 10:10 am #

    Friends have recently moved to Spain and it’s the same system there. Must be a Spanish thing! Glad it’s all sorted now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • afish25 April 8, 2018 at 1:14 pm #

      Dear lord it was one ordeal we’re glad is over. Actually it wasn’t that bad. 😂 We’re retired. Who cares?


  2. Lois Leahy April 8, 2018 at 12:08 pm #

    Def. south of the border trend…How to make things complicated, and then more complicated. I guess it’s not the same as a traffic violation where you can slip them a soborno, and skip the paperwork involved in paying a fine. My cousin just did this last week on our way to Teotihuacan 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • afish25 April 8, 2018 at 1:15 pm #

      Haha. We have a rule against paying mordida.


  3. fabiolaofmexico April 8, 2018 at 10:08 pm #

    I had similar problems when I was living in the US because I have two last names but no middle name. Glad you were able to sort things out!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Diane Sutherland April 8, 2018 at 10:43 pm #

    More information worth noting. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Survivor April 9, 2018 at 1:56 pm #

    Banking is always frustrating! It’s one of my least favorite activities–right up there with cleaning the toilets!

    Liked by 1 person


  1. Banking in Mexico | Surviving Mexico - August 6, 2018

    […] is out sick today, so you’ll have to come back tomorrow. Read about Dos Tortas banking experience here. Make sure to read the fine print before opening your account. Some banks have minimal initial […]

    Liked by 1 person

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