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Carianna

Dec 16, 2006, 6:57 AM

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Domestic Help: money and relationships - Original title: "Antiqüedad--otro pregunta"

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Okay. I decided to start a new thread on this now that I have some more info and can be more explicit in my questions. The information I am seeking is feedback on how much to pay my faithful, hard-working housekeeper as her four year longevity bonus also known as her Antiqüedad.

My friend who has hired and fired housekeepers for 20 years is usually right on the money on dealing with servants fairly and properly. However, in this case, she was confusing severance without cause compensation with longevity pay. I'm not firing Maria. Just giving her a bonus for sticking with us and an incentive to continue doing so in the future.

So I'm really relieved to find I'm not required to pay her 3 months salary plus salary for 20 days times the years of service. In fact, I'm not really required to give her anything. There's no formal contract. But we like her a lot and we're into the whole patrimony thing that is the way of life in Mexico for the Mexican middle and upper class and now, it seems, for me. So I want to Do the Right Thing by a very nice woman who we hope will stay with us until she decides to retire in another 10 or 15 years.

Any suggestions on how to calculate longevity pay for someone who has worked for you faithfully and in an exemplary manner for 4 years and going into year 5? I found one thread that said in Spain about 8 years ago it was calculated at 4% of the base salary although it was unclear as to whether this should be multiplied by number of years of employment or not. But that's not much help, is it?

Would anyone care to suggest an amount YOU would pay in similar circumstances and assuming you were somewhat well-heeled and feeling generous? Or has anyone a link that might lead me to dig up more info?

Thanks in advance. This is always such a useful board with so many knowledgeable and generous people.

Any feedback would be appreciated.


(This post was edited by DavidMcL on Jan 13, 2007, 1:31 PM)



Rolly


Dec 16, 2006, 7:04 AM

Post #2 of 82 (10644 views)

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Re: [Carianna] Antiqüedad--otro pregunta

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Why not give her a nice pay raise? -- a gift that keeps on giving.

Rolly Pirate


Carianna

Dec 16, 2006, 7:50 AM

Post #3 of 82 (10634 views)

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Re: [Rolly] Antiqüedad--otro pregunta

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She already got a raise awhile back. Otherwise, good idea.

I checked what entry level government workers got in the US in 1999 -- $20/month x # of months on job. And I figure to use that as my calculator unless someone else comes up with something more accurate. So that would be 48 months x $200 pesos and lets round it up to $10,000 pesos antiquidad for 4 years faithful service. I have to give her something because we already told her she was getting an antiguedad this December. She probably hasn't the foggiest idea what we're talking about and I may have to have a chair to hand when I give it to her so she doesn't faint on us.


jennifer rose

Dec 16, 2006, 9:40 AM

Post #4 of 82 (10604 views)

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Re: [Carianna] Antiqüedad--otro pregunta

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Since what you've tagged the "Antiquiedad" is not a concept embraced in the labor code, it sounds to me like someone's just bragging about making an excessively large gift far beyond the proportions of the employee's pay.


Carianna

Dec 16, 2006, 10:36 AM

Post #5 of 82 (10594 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] Antiqüedad--otro pregunta

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I'm sorry. Did it appear that I was bragging? I don't see what it is I have to brag about. I actually feel kind of silly at being stuck in this situation and having to ask for advice and I was trying to be a bit humorous in a puzzling situation. Attempts at humor on the internet often go awry, don't they. No vocal or facial nuances to convey sarcasm and tongue in cheek.

First of all, in case you think I am over-paying my housekeeper to begin with, Jennifer, which seems to be what you're suggesting and that this is what I'm bragging about (??), let me bring you up to date on a few facts from my part of Mexico. Cozumel, as you know, is a premiere resort destination. Because of this, the island has some of the highest living costs in Mexico. Not only is the cost of living high here -- rent, groceries, electricity, services--but there are so many jobs available in the tourist industry that the majority of young, local Mexicans who would formerly have considered going into domestic service, turn up their nose at this type of work now.

The fact is, it is quite difficult to find a good maid here. Even harder to keep one. The younger women would rather have a white or pink collar job in the tourist industry even if it doesn't pay much more than being a maid. As a result, a good housekeeper here commands a respectable living wage which is probably considerably higher than in many other parts of Mexico and certainly the Yucatan. Here $850/week plus benefits is considered an excellent -- but by no means outrageous weekly wage for a housekeeper who has been steadily employed with the same person for 3 years or more.

As to this longevity payment quandry I'm having, I have heard time and time again from gringas and well-heeled Mexican matrons I know here that, although a substantial present is not required, it is traditionally expected in the 3-5 years of full-time employment time frame for a good and faithful servant. It's considered the right thing to do whether its legally required or not.

The amount is what's getting me and I feel like a bit of an idiot for not discussing this issue in much more detail with my adviser/friend before letting her talk to my housekeeper about it. (My friends Spanish is fluent, mine is about 35%. She has also trained and employed upwards of 3 dozen maids in the past 18 years here and this is the first time she hasn't be absolutely correct).

At this point, it's a fait accompli, however, as Maria is now expecting something special and I am, frankly, trying to figure out how LITTLE I can get away with giving her without her being disappointed and expecting more.

I'll figure it out and writing on this board has helped me to think it through and do more research. Thanks for reading. No thanks for the pot shot, Jennifer. I believe it was undeserved.


esperanza

Dec 16, 2006, 10:46 AM

Post #6 of 82 (10590 views)

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Re: [Carianna] Antiqüedad--otro pregunta

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I've lived in Mexico (and employed a maid) for more than 25 years. I've never heard of paying this so-called antigüedad. I think you have been led down the primrose path.

I'm not sure YOU were bragging in your post, but I think whoever told you about this "seniority payment" was definitely bragging. And I think that's what Jennifer meant, too.

http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com









(This post was edited by esperanza on Dec 16, 2006, 10:48 AM)


bournemouth

Dec 16, 2006, 11:03 AM

Post #7 of 82 (10584 views)

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Re: [esperanza] Antiqüedad--otro pregunta

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I read it that way too Esperanza, that the person telling the tale was bragging. Relax Carianna. I have also had property in Mexico for 25 years, mostly in the north, and have never heard of this payment. At this point, as it has been mentioned, give her an extra special bonus and leave it at that.


NEOhio1


Dec 16, 2006, 12:25 PM

Post #8 of 82 (10569 views)

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Re: [Carianna] Antiqüedad--otro pregunta

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Well Carianna seems you got yourself in quite a pickle. Since you seem generous and all of your formulas seem tp hit the $1000 US mark, but you still want to pay as little as possible.

I would think of doing it in two ways the first would be to give her $1000 pesos for each year - since she is going into her 5th year count that and make it $5000 pesos even. Then tell her that each year it will increase $1000 pesos as a longevity bonus, so next year it would be $6000, and so on. The second way would be to give her a raise to an even $1000 pesos a week in honor of the 5 years shes been with you, explain there will be no raise for two years, but she will recieve $2000 pesos every Christmas time as a bonus over an above the required formula aguilado.

You asked.


esperanza

Dec 16, 2006, 12:51 PM

Post #9 of 82 (10562 views)

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Re: [NEOhio1] Antiqüedad--otro pregunta

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Great suggestions, NEOhio.

I'd be careful about the "...then tell her that each year it will increase $1000 pesos as a longevity bonus, so next year it would be $6000, and so on..." part. If the maid continues to work for Carianna for a very long time, the annual amount could become substantially more than is sensible.


http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com









jerezano

Dec 17, 2006, 6:02 PM

Post #10 of 82 (10463 views)

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Re: [esperanza] Antiqüedad--otro pregunta

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Hello,

I, too, have lived here in México for a long time. 18 years now. My own ama de llaves has worked for me for 15 of those years and seems quite happy.

She comes in daily M through F for a supposed six hour day which really works out to about 5 except on very special occasions. On Saturday she shows for an hour. She has a liberal time off policy. I give here a two week Aguinaldo. I pay her Social Security Medical plan for herself and her two daughters (unmarried mother) and she gets time off with pay for all medical appointments and she has lots of them. She gets two meals a day free. She has two weeks of paid vacation a year. She gets her birthday off and most of the jillion religious saint days which are not recognized as non-work days. In fact she usually gets any day off that she requests. I also raise her pay yearly in January by the official inflation rate.

Here in the hinterlands a skilled Albañil makes about $200-250 pesos a day. He pays his laborers $150 pesos. That is for an 8 hour day and for 7 days a week. Minimum wage for domestic employees here runs about $40 pesos an 8 hour day and those employees not being organized usually work 11 hours or so and are glad to get the work. Mexican families can be quite demanding on their maids. It works out at less than $300 pesos a week. She is also on virtual vacation 3 months of the year when I head for more temperate climes. She is supposed to drop by the house, check that everything is in order, do her home laundry with my machines, gas, and electricity if she wants to, and go. She is an honorable person so I guess she is doing that. At least the house has not burnt down or been broken into during my absences.

Now my maid for her part time work receives $450 pesos a week and I am constantly being criticized by my Mexican neighbors for paying her too much. I have tried to circumvent that by sending her to various cooking schools which has helped my digestion a whole lot and I can always say that she is a skilled cook--which she ain't--to justify her high salary.

So circumstances here are certainly different from Cozumel.

Still, let me suggest something that hasn't been suggested yet. Instead of giving her $1000 pesos extra as a special bonus, why not increase her Aguinaldo to three weeks ( another $850 pesos). She should be thrilled with that. After she works another 5 years you could be generous and give her 4 weeks. I wouldn't suggest extra paid vacation time because I find that two weeks without her has me wading through trash.

But don't get carried away and end up with 90 days of aguinaldo plus a year end bonus as some of our legislators get.

Adiós. jerezano.


(This post was edited by jerezano on Dec 17, 2006, 6:23 PM)


viejogatomalo

Dec 18, 2006, 9:56 AM

Post #11 of 82 (10397 views)

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Re: [esperanza] Antiqüedad--otro pregunta

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The primrose path is certainly a major part of my history, especially in México. By the way, what is a maid?
It is really terrific to read the posts of you rich dudes and your critical issues, we humble people learn so much.
R


esperanza

Dec 18, 2006, 10:24 AM

Post #12 of 82 (10388 views)

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Re: [viejomalogato] Antiqüedad--otro pregunta

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In Reply To
By the way, what is a maid? It is really terrific to read the posts of you rich dudes and your critical issues, we humble people learn so much.
R

Oh for the love of pete...how idiotic. I live on my SS and a bit more (but just a bit) and easily afford someone to help me with the house.

I am going to assume that you're joking.

http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com









viejogatomalo

Dec 18, 2006, 1:12 PM

Post #13 of 82 (10358 views)

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Re: [esperanza] Antiqüedad--otro pregunta

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How perseptive


ignacio

Dec 18, 2006, 4:41 PM

Post #14 of 82 (10324 views)

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Re: [viejomalogato] Antiqüedad--otro pregunta

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Be careful in paying someone too much in Mexico.... you can open their expectations that every year you are going to give more and more, and if you find yourself in a position that you can't do it any more, that person may turn against you.

We had a gardner working for us, for about 1.5 years, we gave them twice through xmas, his bonus or 'aguinaldo', the first time the required 1/2 month salary, the second time we gave him a full month. This guy turned into a drunk, and I eventually had to fire him for 'cause', or so I thought.......

This person is now suing me for all kinds of things, including stating that he was working for me before I even bought the property, he also claims that his wife worked for us as a maid since 2001, and that we never gave her days off nor vacations..... she actually NEVER worked for us at all. To make this story short, we are in the middle of an official labor lawsuit, going on our next court date next month.

These people were the nicest you can imagine, we gave them everything we could, new and used items, gifts from USA whenever we went there, gifts for their daughters and granddaughters, and all it took was for something to go the wrong way, and now we are up to our necks in alligators.

Moral of the story.... NEVER be too nice, maintain the employer-employee line well marked, and if you ever want to dismiss someone, contact a lawyer, so there can be witnesses and legal documents drawn to avoid a lawsuit. At this point, we are looking at loosing around 30,000 US dollars if we don't win on the labor relations board suit.... we are going to loose around 5,000 dollars in lawyers fees regarldess, before this thing is through.

I have been coming and going between Mexico and the USA for 60+ years, and let me tell you, there is no such thing as the antigüedadpayment that you are mentioning. Some big companies may give them a 25 year bonus or gift, such as they do in the USA, but the individual person hiring house help never do.

As I said, beware of increasing their expectations !


(This post was edited by ignacio on Dec 18, 2006, 4:48 PM)


esperanza

Dec 18, 2006, 4:49 PM

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Re: [ignacio] Antiqüedad--otro pregunta

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Ignacio, thank you for sharing your experiences with us. Your post is excellent. It's so important that everyone understand how easily this sort of thing can happen.

You are 100% right: maintaining the employer/employee relationship is critical.

Thank you again, and best of luck in your court case. Please let us know the outcome. I'll be pulling for you.

Esperanza

http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com









wendy devlin

Dec 18, 2006, 5:10 PM

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Re: [ignacio] Antiqüedad--otro pregunta

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Ignacio,

hope it works out for you.

Like you said, you've been coming and going in Mexico for 60 years and just recently, you are in a 'situation.

It was once explained to me, that once you get ' involved' over time with certain people, they 'own' you.

This statement seemed 'shocking' at the time. How could anyone ever 'own' me or anyone else, for that matter?"

Then people told me their personal stories like yours to illustrate the point.
How the, 'road to hell' was paved with good intentions, etc. etc.

And what they endured to get other people out of their lives. All about relationship and what happens when it 'sours'.

People can be so thrilled that they are 'treated' like part of the family. That they are asked(very soon, often) to be comadres or copadres or patrons or ? of hired help or casual amigos.

One fellow had a trusted secretary...a professional relationship over 15 years. And one day, she walked off with the contents of his photography studio.

One woman, had a younger lover, an outstanding man. Until one day, he drove off with her pick-up truck...forever. Etc. etc.

Be careful down the primrose path, roses have beauty, scent and also...thorns.

Of course, these types of situations can happen everywhere, but in Mexico...

Un hombre preparado vale por dos.


doogie

Dec 18, 2006, 8:51 PM

Post #17 of 82 (10274 views)

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Re: [viejomalogato] Antiqüedad--otro pregunta

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¿viejomalgato? perhaps that should be viejo mal educado. If your only contribution to a discussion is a snide remark, maybe you could just keep your negative waves to yourself.
Doogie,
Tapatío de corazón


viejogatomalo

Dec 19, 2006, 5:25 AM

Post #18 of 82 (10241 views)

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Re: [doogie] Antiqüedad--otro pregunta

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Doogie
I shall try to be as kind and supportive as you.
R


Carianna

Dec 19, 2006, 6:35 AM

Post #19 of 82 (10225 views)

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Comments and many thanks to all! Also have an answer

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First of all, let me offer my heartfelt thanks for all who have contributed potential solutions to my little problem. My adviser, the one Jennifer suggested was bragging, checked with her lawyer on Monday and was told that the appropriate antigueidad formula is: 12 days per year x daily salary x's number of years. Which, in my case gets the freight down to around $6,500 pesos for 4 years. She will be asked to sign a paper saying she has received this and why and at what time. For later. Just in case. You never know as another poster has pointed out.

I still have no idea whether this is in the legal system or a local custom or what but will try and find out and post if I get something. I do know that some businesses in Mexico have longevity pay written into their worker contracts but I don't think its a legal requirement??. But this is probably the typical rate paid and quoted by my adviser's lawyer. And, yes, she did admit she had it wrong about the difference between unlawful termination of employment penalties and longevity pay.

As to paying the help too much, yes, you really do have to tread a fine line. You want to pay what's fair and keep your workers happy. But if you give them too much, they may just go off and leave for a couple of months while they spend it and then come back when the money runs low. That's a scenario I've witnessed more than once with my friends.

And, yes, there's the expectation thing. To every working class Mexican all gringos surely must be perceived as rich as Midas and so they will ask for and take the moon if you are overly generous because they figure you can afford anything. Why not ask. You just might receive seems to be the philosophy of many. I have some American friends here who were loaning money to their housekeeping live in couple, paying $5000 for a quinceanera dress and on and on. Finally, the couple disappeared with their loot. We think they were saving up to buy some land for themselves back in the Yucatan jungle. That's just one example of many.

We want our workers happy and well-treated. But as my adviser friend always warns me, urgently "DON'T spoil her, Carey!!".

This year because she's getting de big longevity bonus, Maria's Christmas basket is going to be way sized down to a Harry Potter book in Spanish for the boy, cologne and bath powder for the daughter, Mayan shawl for Maria herself plus a food basket including a nice ham that will last them the whole week. And I'm giving her Christmas eve and New Year's eve off too.

Again, thanks for the help with this. And Feliz Navidad a Todos!


(This post was edited by Carianna on Dec 19, 2006, 8:58 AM)


ken_in_dfw

Dec 19, 2006, 10:09 AM

Post #20 of 82 (10189 views)

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Re: [Carianna] Lessons learned

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Boy, this thread has certainly been educational and eye-opening for this wet-behind-the-ears gringo!

I certainly admire you, Carianna, for working so hard to do the right thing. And I admire all of you who have posted information about how you take care of those who take care of you.

But I do have to wonder, just a bit, if it's all worth the bother. Seems like you can be damned if you do, damned if you don't in Mexico (i.e., pay too much and set some dangerous expectations, pay too little and run afoul of community norms or the law). It's got me thinking that I might be better off just continuing to do the dusting and cleaning myself after I make the move South. After all, I manage to do it now and work a 50-hour work week. And exercise is a good thing, right?

Well, as always, I'm amazed at the fount of information found on MexConnect.


Carianna

Dec 19, 2006, 11:35 AM

Post #21 of 82 (10169 views)

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Re: [kenhjr] Lessons learned

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well, where we live it is VERY dusty. Mix this with auto exhaust from all the mopeds that race by down below our window (we live on a very busy street in the middle of Cozumel's city of 80,000, San Miguel) means that we are constantly having to dust everything.

So having a housekeeper allows us to at least stay even. Because we live with windows open and no screens year round and its a constant battle.

Also my husband is much neater than I am and we used to have running bicker fests on this subject. That irritant has completely gone away now that we have household help. One of the great perks of Mexico.

On the other hand, you give up privacy. We love it on her day off and when she knocks off for the day as we then have the joint to ourselves.


ignacio

Dec 19, 2006, 2:43 PM

Post #22 of 82 (10141 views)

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Re: [Carianna] Lessons learned

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Carianna, finally found some reference to this antigüedad benefit, it is in Spanish, and can be read with Adobe Acrobat Reader (PDF format) here:

http://www.gra.com.mx/PDF/jurisprudencia_en_materia.pdf

I will just post a couple of parts, then translate for you to English, in case you need it........


"La ley expresamente señala como sujetos del beneficio del pago de la prima, a los trabajadores de planta....."

The law expressely includes as recipients of this benefit of the payment of the premium, the permanent employees...



"PRIMA DE ANTIGüEDAD EN CASO DE RETIRO VOLUNTARIO, IMPROCEDENTE. Si los trabajadores no son despedidos de su trabajo, sino se retiran voluntariamente y tienen menos de quince años de servicios prestados, carecen de derecho a percibir la prima de antigüedad, salvo pacto en contrario."

Antiquity Premium in case of voluntary retirement, Not Applicable. If the workers are NOT laid off from their job, but retire voluntarily, and have less than fifteen years on the job, they do not have a right to receive the antiquity premium, except if otherwise agreed to.

They go on and give the same formula that is posted earlier for the cases where this premium applies and a lot of other legal references.

I hope this helps you.


(This post was edited by ignacio on Dec 19, 2006, 2:46 PM)


Carianna

Dec 19, 2006, 3:20 PM

Post #23 of 82 (10132 views)

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Muchas Gracias, Ignacio, nmsg

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nmsg


Carianna

Dec 19, 2006, 7:14 PM

Post #24 of 82 (10099 views)

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Re: [viejomalogato] Antiqüedad--otro pregunta

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'perceptive' is the correct spelling FYI


viejogatomalo

Dec 20, 2006, 5:01 AM

Post #25 of 82 (10059 views)

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Re: [Carianna] Antiqüedad--otro pregunta

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Thank you
R
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