Corruption

We rode out of Buenos Aires northward towards Brazil. The roads we planned to take were Route 12 and 14.

A couple of hours after leaving we came up and over a bridge. As we came down the other side we were signaled by some police officers 100m further up the road to pull over. We stopped and were promptly asked to remove our helmets. The accusation that followed was that we were speeding.

Obviously we denied this, and we began to explain how we had no money. The two offices spoke with limited English so there was a difficulty in translation. I explained that we wanted to see proof of the speeding accusation. They said they had us on camera, a photo.  Wanting to see this we were led inside the compound and were shown a monitor of the security cameras of the immediate area. While treading carefully we joked about this and also explained that our bikes are so slow that we could have been speeding if we wanted to. Twenty minutes later we had our documents back and we were on the road again.

It wouldn’t have been more than an hour or two and we were pulled over again. This time the attitudes of the officers were more forceful, probably a scare tactic. We were escorted to a senior officer leaning against the bonnet of his car. He had a calculator and documents spread out like it was his desk. He didn’t speak any English but successfully told us that we were being accused of overtaking on double yellow lines, witnessed by an officer 20km prior.

Unsure if we should  or should not pretend  to understand, or to use the deny, it was  going to be a lot of work for either tactic. Denying at the time seemed the option to pursue. He then typed 3950 into his calculator to explain that was our fine. This figure was in peso’s and equates to about US $1000. Not being able to pay this fine even if we wanted to, he eventually brought it down to 1000 peso.

I told him that he would have to contact the Embassy for this sort of money, or house us for three days for the money to be cleared from Australia. He threatened to take the bikes and lock us up, a bluff I called, and he retracted.

We were then told to go to the nearest fuel station to withdrawal the money to get our passports back. Frustrated by the time this was consuming I responded with a blunt NO.

His next move was to shout a command at a junior officer to take photos of our bikes. He said we wouldn’t be able to leave the country without payment of the fine. This was our chance to do the same, I signaled to Mike to get the camera and take photos of the officers. Not long later we had our documents back and were on the bikes. The whole ordeal would have taken over an hour.

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