Thursday, August 21, 2008

Naming The Durango

I've received some very good suggestions in the last couple of days about the name for the Durango SUV. This one, Charles Starrett, was a good one. Bob from Tlaxcala sent this to me. How many people remember him:

The Durango Kid

My friend Roc submitted this one which is also very original. Hemri! Get it? The Durango has a Hemi engine.

I'm still undecided and would like to see a few more suggestions.

La Mordida - Paying A Bribe

This has always been a bone of contention with me and I feel it is worth sharing. Bribing a transit official in Mexico has been common place since forever. However, over the last five years there has been a big push by the Mexican government; federal, state and local, to try and eliminate this illegal activity. There are many sides to the coin and I happen to have my own.

I have never paid a bribe. Well, that's not true. In 1986 I paid a transit official because I had Texas plates and I was stopped for not having a front plate on the car. He told me I had to pay him. I did. But that didn't last long. When I arrived at my friend's house he went through the roof. He took me down to transito and we asked to see the Comandante. He pulled out a large book filled with photos of all the transit officials and found the officials working in the area where I was stopped. I identified him, he was called into the office and had to return the money. Keep in mind that was 22 years ago.

I am here to tell you the truth. No one in a uniform can ask you for money. When you are dealing with a transit official, even less. There is nothing he can do to you but maybe intimidate you or threaten you with false possibilities. DONT PAY ANYONE ON THE STREET ANY MONEY. You have nothing to fear, there is nothing that the official can do to you. He can't take your vehicle for a moving violation unless you have had an accident and no one wants to claim responsibility. If you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, have hit a pedestrian, of course they can impound your vehicle. It becomes evidence.

Apart from being illegal and immoral, it makes no sense to pay a bribe. There are many solutions and in most cases, when the officer realizes you are not going to pay him money, the idea of him leading you through town with a rig and down to the station where he will have to explain to his superiors why you are there, he will think twice and let you go.

The issue that is created by paying bribes is that it sends a message to the transit officials. "We are foreigners, we have money, and we are afraid of you". By paying, it just gets worse. More and more rvers will be stopped and asked for bribes especially in areas where rvs are known to pass.

What I would like to see this Winter, is to set a standard for rvers coming to Mexico. Get the word out that we will not pay bribes. We are willing to take the time out of our day to pay our obligation whether or not it is justified. Spread the word to rvers and to those officials that attempt to extort money from you.

  • carry copies of all your documents, car title and license
  • do not hand over your license to the official (show it and hand him a copy)
  • be polite and friendly, do not get angry
  • do not be afraid (there is nothing to fear. They can't hurt you in any way.)
  • ask for his name, identification and his badge number (the passenger should start writing these things down)
  • offer to follow him to the office to pay the fine

In fact, only a police officer can force you out of your car. A transit official does not have the jurisdiction.

1 comment:

  1. I got stopped in Puerto Peñasco for running a stop sign in front of a railroad track. The officer asked me to pay him $20. I insisted I follow him to the station. There I was charged $30! So much for your theory on La Mordida...