With the argument of supporting the poorest sectors, the Morena fraction in the Chamber of Deputies tried to make effective the legalization of vehicles for more than 18,000 units that circulate illegally in the national territory.

Although this topic is not new, it has regained strength in recent months.

Once again, the aim was to legalize the so-called chocolate cars ; Imported vehicles, which entered the country without papers, but which circulate freely throughout the national geography.

It is very easy to identify them. They are old, used cars and the vast majority keep the license plates of the United States.

In some cities in northern Mexico, the relationship becomes one to one; that is, for every national vehicle, there is another imported one circulating illegally.

Among the most common models you can find all kinds of trucks, units or brands that have never been sold in Mexican territory, but that can be acquired at a fraction of their original cost.

Why are these vehicles so cheap? The answer is very simple: because in the United States they have the title salvage and you will not believe what this means.

Chocolate cars , the history of the problem

Importing used vehicles from the United States is a long-standing problem.

It started with a few units, particularly in border states and cities. But then the situation grew, it got out of control, and gave rise to the emergence of organizations such as the Democratic Peasant Union (UCD) that sought at all costs to regularize the units.

The first legalization of imported cars occurred during the six-year term of Vicente Fox Quesada, in 2006.

During his campaign for the presidency, and even in the first years of his mandate, the PAN assured that cars imported from the United States would not be legalized since they represented unfair competition for the national industry.

However, surprisingly, he changed his mind and defended the measure in various forums.

On more than one occasion, he pointed out that this vehicle legalization “was a good measure, because those who had these cars here are allowed to document them, paying duties, paying a tax.”

The opening to free importation of used vehicles from the United States was already agreed for 2008 in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

However, with the 2006 elections approaching, Fox decided to move ahead in favor of producer and peasant organizations that were the main users of these vehicles. 

Legalization of American cars : unfair competition?

From the outset, the Mexican Association of Automotive Distributors (AMDA) —the body that brings together automobile dealerships— opposed any regularization of this class of vehicles. 

In principle, because the law requires any businessman who wants to sell cars in Mexico to also install a service station or workshop and a spare parts store. Chocolate cars , for obvious reasons, did not comply with this.

Furthermore, the sale of these units did not generate any income for the treasury.

Imported vehicles did not pay the New Car Tax (ISAN). We were the only country in the world where a tax was charged for acquiring a new car.

Nor did they pay for vehicle ownership, which, in those years, was a federal tax, although its implementation – it was said at the time – was a temporary measure to help cover the expenses generated by the 1968 Olympic Games.