In Cancún, Police Pick Wrong People for ‘Bite’

Discussion in 'Living in Cancun' started by mixz1, Oct 29, 2009.

  1. mixz1

    mixz1 Guest

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    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/29/world/americas/29mexico.html?_r=1&emc=eta1

    MEXICO CITY — “Piece of cake,” the three police officers might have thought when they spied the rental car with five American tourists driving down the main drag of Cancún’s hotel zone.

    They pulled the car over and told the driver, Scott Fischbach, that he was going about a mile an hour over the speed limit, recalled his wife, Michelle L. Fischbach. One of the officers cupped his hands and asked Mr. Fischbach to blow into them. “This was their Breathalyzer,” Mrs. Fischbach said, recounting her astonishment on the last night of her vacation with her husband, his sister and brother-in-law and their daughter. “They tried very hard, but Scott doesn’t drink.”

    The police took his driver’s license and told him they would take him to jail unless he came up with $300, she said. The patrol car escorted the family back to the hotel, where she says the group came up with the money. The officers declined to write a receipt.

    What the police may not have expected, however, was that Mrs. Fischbach was a Minnesota state senator — or that she would complain so effectively.

    “The concierge at the hotel said he was not surprised at all” by what happened, said Mrs. Fischbach, a Republican. “He said they get you for $1,000 if you have been drinking.”

    On Wednesday, the episode made front-page news in Mexico after Cancún officials released the information to news organizations, some eight months after the event. (Yes, those police officers were fired long ago.)

    And in Paynesville, Minn., an hour and a half northwest of St. Paul, the Fischbachs got a check in the mail for about 4,000 pesos, about $300, from the Cancún city government reimbursing them.

    The transit officer’s “mordida,” which translates roughly as “a little bite,” is standard practice in Mexico.

    But apart from drunken driving, even the most serious violation usually costs no more than $50. When Mrs. Fischbach returned home, she wrote a letter to Gregorio Sánchez Martínez, Cancún’s mayor, mentioning her position as a state legislator.

    It caught his notice. “I personally attended to it,” Mr. Sánchez told reporters on Wednesday. “In this administration, we will not tolerate any corruption.”

    A version of this article appeared in print on October 29, 2009, on page A6 of the New York edition.
     
  2. V

    V I can choose my own title Registered Member

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    RESIST!

    This kind of crap only works with the willing complicity of the victims. Once they got back into their hotel, they should have simply ignored the police outside, and left them waiting in vain.
     
  3. RiverGirl

    RiverGirl Guest

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    An INM agent tried to extort money from another US Senator a couple of years ago. She lost her job over it. It seems US Senators are "effective complainers."
     
  4. Steve

    Steve Administrator Owner

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    Re: RESIST!

    Been waiting to use this gif for a while. Here it is:
    [​IMG]
     
  5. V

    V I can choose my own title Registered Member

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    THANKS, STEVE

    Those holding government positions sometimes take advantage of stressful situations and the fear of adverse governmental action to induce people to pay/offer bribes; this, when coupled with a Desire to escape the stress and fear, sometimes leads those who would never offer a bribe in their own country to respond in this way. Scott Fishbach, and his wife, State Senator, Michelle L. Fischbach, should have know better, and been stronger than that.

    I'm surprised she wasn't censored by her colleagues in the legislature, upon her return to the U.S., for taking the benefit of a corrupt act while in Mexico (paying, rather than having to deal with a matter, further). Would he or she have attempted to do the same thing in the U.S., in the same or similar circumstances? Perhaps, but not likely.

    Reproduced below, in part, from the thread, "Why do you live in Cancun?" is my take on corruption, generally. In particular, I'd like to call attention to the little discussed "consumer" side to the corruption equation, without which corruption cannot thrive.
    _____________________

    If you talk with Mexicans they will mention corruption as one of Mexico's major problems, right after lack of jobs/poverty. Interestingly, the World Bank says the two things are linked, with those countries having the largest amounts of poverty also, typically, having higher levels of corruption, as well. It's easy to understand why, with corrupt acts limiting the effectiveness of almost any law/governmental action, or mandate.

    But, corruption has both a supply, and demand, side. The supply side is easy to identify, comprising those holding any governmental position which controls decision making in any area directly affecting the public. The demand side is where it gets a little more personal, and uncomfortable. As long as people wish to make their life just a little simpler, get things done more quickly or reliably, there will be the Temptation to pay, or offer to pay, for a favorable act from a governmental official.

    The supply side is the most easily dealt with: studies have shown that corruption retreats when there are high profile prosecutions occurring often enough to keep the matter in the public eye. The demand side is much harder to deal with, there being many more potential "consumers" of corrupt acts than "vendors".

    Mexico, like many countries, has in place a great many programs to try to reduce the number of corrupt acts which may occur. In virtually every governmental office you will see signs posting the official fees which may be charged for all the governmental services provided there. Often, as in the case of immigration, those fees must be paid at a bank, rather than in the governmental offices. In addition, there will often be signs posted in Spanish and, in the case of Immigration Cancun, in English, warning that money is not to be given to any employee there; and, providing a number you can call if anything occurs which you consider improper.

    Corruption is never completely eradicated, in any case, from any country. The most developed countries tend to have mainly what has been termed, "grand corruption", the most secretive and well hidden form, involving the largest sums of money, typically with the consumer of the corrupt act being a multinational or domestic corporation, or a very wealthy individual. Though you may never have the opportunity to settle a traffic ticket with a small "tip" to a police officer in the U.S., the U.S. is no stranger to this other form of corruption.

    As Rivergirl has said, we can make little difference to solving the problems in Mexico; but, we can avoid contributing to its problems by not allowing ourselves to benefit from corrupt acts.
     
  6. Life_N_Cancun

    Life_N_Cancun Guest

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    This is the problem... at worst they lose there jobs...... how is that supposed to detour them from their armed robbery!!!
     
  7. Life_N_Cancun

    Life_N_Cancun Guest

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    Re: RESIST!

    The problem with that thinking is...

    Most people don't realize that they could get away with that...

    In the States if you tried something like that the police would eventually kick your door in, drag you out at gunpoint, and charge you with a number of more serious offenses...

    So it stands to reason that someone from the States would assume the same would happen here if they failed to comply with the demands of the "officer"... and the cops here realize that and use that fear of the unknown to their advantage....

    The problem cant be blamed on the victims, as most of them are scared to death and have visions of ending up dead in a Mexican jail running though their head, and don't realize that they have other options than to pay.
     
  8. RiverGirl

    RiverGirl Guest

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    It is true that most tourists are afraid of cops, so they can't be expected to stand up to crooked cops in Mexico.

    But when I was pulled over recently the cop didn't ever ask directly for a bribe. Instead he tried to make sure I knew how high the fine was ($1500 pesos) and how long the ticket form would take to fill out (half an hour). He was subtle, not threatening. He was fishing for me to say "ok, how much do I give you to avoid that expensive ticket?" But instead I just said "give me the ticket, I'm happy to pay it and happy to wait for you to issue it."

    He let me off without giving me a ticket. And I didn't give him a dime.

    I don't know how often the cops here really do threaten people, but if they make a threat I imagine it would be really difficult to stand up to them.
     
  9. mixz1

    mixz1 Guest

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    My short answer is that when you find yourself in a bus stop with the truck or motorcycle blinking red and blue behind you, and you've already experienced the ritual involved in getting your license back, the Temptation to toss a hundred pesos at the problem and make it go away is compelling. On one hand you have the 450 peso discounted fine, the unairconditioned wating area, the half day wait on the incredibly long line, the unendurable (to you) patience of both the people on line and the single clerk processing the fines and on the other hand you have the opportunity to make it go away for the price of a couple of whiskeys.

    So there you are; two individuals testing their own morals; you and the cop. By V's standards the cop has already failed, you, on the other hand, as Nancy Reagan would say, should just say "no" and take the high road, which in this case leads to that interminable ordeal (unless you get ticketed in the Hotel Zone, where the police station is much nicer but still an ordeal).

    But, and it's kind of a big but, corruption in Spanish-based cultures is a different animal than the classic extortion and bribery we Westerners like to practice. There's a whole theory about the development of corruption as it grew in Norhern, Protestant based Europe vs. Southern, more Catholic Europe. According to those theories Spain, in particular, made it a high art.

    Britanicca defines corruption thusly: "Improper and usually unlawful conduct intended to secure a benefit for oneself or another. Its forms include bribery, extortion, and the misuse of inside information. It exists where there is community indifference or a lack of enforcement policies. In societies with a culture of ritualized gift giving, the line between acceptable and unacceptable gifts is often hard to draw." (italics mine)

    Within 15th Century Spain corruption became institutionalized. The Crown sold off certain areas of land to the highest bidder. The highest bidder won the right to impose taxes on the the inhabitants of those areas, in return for kicking back a percentage of those taxes to the Crown, which was double-dipping by virtue of revenues from the sales and revenues from the kick-backs. By the time Cortez was dispatched to pillage Mexico these land grants were a way of life. Cortez received permission to issue his own grants in Mexico and thus rewarded fellow conquistadors in that fashion.

    Without reiterating the whole process, politcal offices right down to dog catcher and street sweeper, each with specific fee and other taxation priveliges, were sold in the same way, both in the Old and New Worlds.

    There can be little wonder as to the entrenchment of bribary and corruption in a society that is a direct descendant of these systems and a modicum of understanding is needed to comprehend why it is tolerated as much as it is. That certain forward thinking individuals (and in my opinion, despite the refund check, Greg Sanchez isn't one of them) try to make the anti-corruption noiseis into reality is indeed laudable, but it's going to take Malthusian growth of those people's descendants to extinguish an institution, the mordida, that is an intrisic part of Spanish-based cultures. In other words, it ain't gonna happen soon.

    Forgive me. End of rant.
     
  10. Life_N_Cancun

    Life_N_Cancun Guest

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    It would seem to make sense that one of the reasons that they do target the rental cars is for that very reason... that they can directly threaten them without much fear of being caught, since more than likely they are frightened tourists without a clue as to what the law is. Its different for locals who know the game, but tourists especially foreign tourists just want to make it back home and will do whatever they think they have to to avoid making a bad situation worse...


    As with many things in Mexico.. the problem just goes too deep to be easily "fixed" every once and a while such as in the case of your INM example, they serve up a little fish to turn attention away from themselves.... These sorts of things could be drastically lessened, with a combination of enforcement of the anti-corruption laws, citizens reporting/rewards, and a REAL zero-tolerance stance... but there is a better chance of snow falling on the beach tomorrow..... :evil:

    In the mean time we just have to watch as fewer and fewer tourist visit the area as a result of these crimes.... just imagine how many people read that NY Times article and will now be vacationing elsewhere....
     
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