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May 22, 2013, my last full riding in Mexico, I got my first flat tire in 8 months and the first attempted shake down/bribe in 21 counties.
I was a little distracted going into Tampico as we got a little confused getting through this town in 2009 and I didn't have a GPS this time. Add to the above mix, I had lost 2 hours to a tire change and really wanted to get as close to the Texas border as possible. Dunno know exactly if it was changing lanes without signaling riding too close behind a truck, either way, Trafico cops pulled me over. Polite as can be I present passport and drivers license, offer to pull out my importation papers, the cops decline. Stating I was distracted as I just lost a few hours to a tire change, I ask if they can make this a warning and promise to drive more carefully. The cops shift the conversation into the difficulties they face filling out a ticket for me because I don't have an address in Mexico. My motorcycle is legal in Mexico, I have all the papers, I calmly reply. You will have to come to the office, which is closed at this time. So, you will have to spend the night in Tampico, the cop explain. Ok, I reply.
It is late in the afternoon and it could be the case that what ever office the cops are talking about might actually be closed. For once I could stop early instead of riding deep onto the night. Spending the night in Tampico is not the worst thing that could happen. But escorting me to a hotel, picking me up in the morning, then taking me to some office is not what these cops really want to do.
The cop asked, "Do you have $100 dollars?"
Really? That is way too much to ask for at best a minor lapse in good driving form. I had advice from another rider that never paid a bribe. How did he do it? He just said no. I was calm and not in a rush, two key states.
"Sorry, I just don't take care of thing like this on the side of the road". I replied.
The cop knew he didn't have an easy bribe coming his way. He gazed off into the horizon for a moment, a small smile crossed his face and he handed me my drivers license back. I mumbled something about riding carefully as I put on my helmet and rode away.
Final thought - always have your paperwork organized. I use a presentation book that has plastic sleeves to keep my importation papers, copies and original documents sorted out. I wish I had a copy of the anti-bribe advertisement in my paperwork, displayed on the page next to my importation documents! I would recommend making this ad casually visible in your paperwork to customs or law enforcement officer anyway in Latin America.
Peter, sorry to hear about your incident. Unfortunately, the above pictured advertisement for reporting corruption is for the state of Mexico and the federal district. It won't work for Tamaulipas, the state in which Tampico is located. I can tell you that you are not alone in having been hassled with the attempted extortion. I get first hand info from riders coming through here all the time about their problems. The single biggest problem is that the PRI government is in charge at both the national/federal level and also in the state of Tamaulipas.
If anyone is riding through Tamaulipas and especially Tampico, why not try this? Write the following on a piece of paper:
Egidio Torre Cantu, Gobernador (52.834) 318.8000, 318.8700 (secretary) 24 hrs. Llamar cualquier día y a cualquier hora
And ask the police to please call the number or have their dispatcher call the number. Those are the numbers for the state governor, Cantu, and his office. Write them on a piece of paper like you know the guy. It's like a game of poker. They are trying to cheat you, but you have to be better at bluffing. It costs you nothing to try and will confuse the hell out of the cop. Most of the cops speak some English, the "Llamar cualquier día y a cualquier hora" is Spanish for "Call any day at anytime".
Perhaps understanding history enables one to understand the present.
Let us not forget.
In 1914, the United States secured American interests in Mexican oil, by sending the U S fleet to invade Tampico based on the fact the the Mexican President was not "playing ball" with U S oil companies.
"The situation between the U.S. and Huerta further worsened on April 9, when Mexican authorities mistakenly arrested eight U.S. sailors at Tampico, Mexico in what came to be known as the Tampico Affair. The commander of the Dolphin arranged for a pickup of oil from a warehouse near a tense defensive position at Iturbide Bridge. The defenders of the bridge anticipated an attack, based on the two consecutive days of skirmishes that had immediately preceded. Nine U.S. sailors on a whaleboat flying the U.S. flag were dispatched to the warehouse along a canal. Based on the sailors' account, seven of them moved the cans of fuel to the boat while two remained on the vessel. Mexican federal soldiers were alerted to the activity and confronted the American sailors. Neither side was able to speak the other's language, which left the sailors immobile in the face of commands from the soldiers. The Mexicans raised rifles against the Americans, including the sailors still on the boat, and ushered the men to the nearby Mexican regimental headquarters.
The commander of U.S. naval forces in the area, Rear Admiral Henry T. Mayo, demanded a 21-gun salute and formal apology from Huerta's government. General Huerta, the President of Mexico, ordered the release of the sailors within 24 hours and gave a written apology. However, he refused for Mexico to raise the U.S. flag on its soil to provide a 21-gun salute. As a result, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress for permission for an armed invasion of the area. Although this request was granted two days later, the United States occupation of Veracruz had already begun."
The incident was used to topple the Mexican President and install a President who would "play ball" with U S oil interests... A ploy used time and time again by the U S throughout Latin America and the rest of the world.
Foreigners are targeted because they've got money and are highly susceptible to paying bribes--not because of historical or present colonialism. Swedes, Russians, Kiwis and others are targeted equally.
Can we also conclude that foreign countries - not only the United States but many other nations - have targeted Latin American countries cause they got resources (gold, silver,oil etc) and are highly susceptible to accepting bribes?
I have had many conversations with Mexicans, Peruvians, etc who have been taught that before being targeted by the United States, the Spanish did a fair amount of damage.
My 20th century example was not meant to exclude other foreigners:
especially this guy....
Born Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph; 6 July 1832 – 19 June 1867) was the only monarch of the Second Mexican Empire. He was a younger brother of the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I. After a distinguished career in the Austrian Navy, he entered into a scheme with Napoleon III of France to rule Mexico. France had invaded Mexico in 1861, with the implicit support and approval of other European powers, as part of the War of the French Intervention. Seeking to legitimize French rule, Napoleon III invited Maximilian to establish a new Mexican monarchy. With the support of the French army and a group of conservative Mexican monarchists, Maximilian traveled to Mexico where he declared himself Emperor of Mexico on 10 April 1864.
The famous muralist , Diego Rivera , with his revolutionary/political themes
have shaped the point of view of most Mexicans. Diego Rivera was absolutely against imperialism and even capitalism, yet he is celebrated, even in the United States.
My point of view is that the Mexican, especially Mexican police are basically good and to do bad to others must be justified in their eyes and in the eyes of their God and fellow police..... this is true for all but the small percentage of real psychopaths.
So, the justification for some police goes something like this: These foreigners have stolen from me - from my country- therefore I am justified in stealing from them.
I have spoken with Mexican police extensively - I lived and worked in Mexico for three years, I know that Mexicans are in general very honest, God fearing good people who would rather help then hurt. Therefore, my opinion is that the justification for going bad is exactly as I have perhaps - inconclusively explained, but it is based on my own experiences of living in Mexico for three years.
you're kidding, right? police in latin america demand bribes of everyone, including locals. this has nothing to do with colonialism or damage done by other countries. plain and simple, it is an abuse of power.
oh wait, you're from argentina? the home of some of the most corrupt cops around?
Selective history. Huerta was supported and encouraged by the US ambassador at the time to take out Madero. Obama was spying on the candidates during the last election. Things dont change.
Mex cops do not discriminate. They'll rip off their own mothers...if they had mothers to begin with.
Now, I am wondering why I have never been "ripped off" by Mexican police or by Argentine police? Or, for that matter, I have not been ripped off by police even once during more than ten years in Latin America. the only place I have ever been bothered by police in in the United States? I wonder if it is because of the differences in our points of view?
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