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Panic Selling Of Pesos Along Border

June 27, 1985

SAN YSIDRO, Calif. (AP) _ The peso plunged to new lows in this border town as Mexican citizens frantically exchanged their currency for dollars after being frozen out from buying U.S. money in Mexican banks.

″This morning we paid 302; now we pay 310″ pesos to the dollar, said Luis Flores, a clerk at Rocky Money exchange.

His was one of about two dozen exchange houses in this town 20 miles south of San Diego that bought pesos at the rate of 310 to 322 to the dollar. The houses sold the currency at the rate of 298 to 310 to the dollar.

At Valuta money exchange, San Ysidro’s largest wholesale exchange house, Adrian Waumann said no limit was being placed on the amount of pesos a single customer could exchange.

″A lot of people have invested their money in Mexican banks, and they think they have seen enough, so they are bringing their pesos here to sell,″ she said.

The peso’s value along the border has plummeted in the past month from a buying price for a dollar of 253 pesos on May 25 to the 310 asked at Valuta on Wednesday.

Currency exchange customers interviewed said they were not particularly worried about the Mexican currency, which has undergone two major devaluations in the past three years and is being devalued at 21 Mexican cents a day.

The Interbank trading rate for the peso was 243.83 to buy and 245.33 to sell on Wednesday while the Mexican government-controlled rate was 227.07 to buy and 227.27 to sell.

The Tijuana banks have refused to sell U.S. dollars to anyone who did not have an account.

″The Mexican banks’ regular customers are not able to buy dollars, so the only thing for them to do is come here,″ Waumann said.

The fluctuation is helping Americans doing business in Mexico, especially tourists traveling across the border to Tijuana.

″The value of their dollars is higher,″ Waumann said. ″But most of the shops down there are raising the price of everything.″

Enrique Esquer, a Chula Vista resident, bought pesos with his dollars Wednesday, explaining that he purchased a condominium in Tijuana and needed to make his mortgage payment in Mexican currency.

If he paid in dollars, he said, he would receive an exchange rate of 245 pesos for each. By exchanging the money at a U.S. exchange house, he received 305 pesos for each dollar.

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