Nicaragua Shakedowns Like Highway Robbery

korruptrendor

CALGARY HERALD – His face was smiling, but it was clear he wanted cash. And he had my driver’s licence. He was a member of the Nicaraguan National Police and he had pulled us over outside the capital city of Managua for reasons unclear to me.

His Spanish was rapid-fire and my requests to slow down, lentamente por favor, had zero effect. But I came to understand that when he pulled me over I hadn’t done it quickly enough. It had looked to me like he was gesturing to slow my speed with a palms thrusting down motion, but, to, my dismay, he was still at it when I looked in my rear view mirror. So the crime of pulling over 50 yards down the road was going to cost me 4,000 Nicaraguan Cordobas, about US$160. And If we didn’t come to an agreement, I had to follow him back into the chaotic Managua traffic to pay up at a bank.

- payin the bills -

Eventually, he decided that maybe a pair of American $50s might be the appropriate penalty for my crime. I had the money in my hand, but he suddenly gestured to hide it as a pedestrian passed on the curbside. Then he slid a clipboard in the window, told me to roll the bills into a tube and slide them into the pages of a receipt book. Not that there was any receipt forthcoming.

Then a big smile and firm handshake as he handed me back my licence.

Our best assumption, my girlfriend Reneta and I, is that this means he never actually accepted any money. That would be a bribe! He would later just open his book and, what luck, find $100.

Welcome to a Nicaragua. A beautiful, largely undiscovered and charmingly corrupt paradise of volcanoes, chaotic colonial cities, vast lakes, and Caribbean and Pacific coastlines.

- paying the bills -

And shakedowns.

The second time, also on a highway not far from Managua, was remarkably similar. This offence was that the motor vehicle inspection document in the glovebox was two weeks out of date. No matter that this was a rental car. This was my fault and it was going to cost 1500 Cordobas, about $60. This guy wasn’t budging. Again he had my licence and it was either pay or take a trip to a bank with him in the Managuan chaos. Again I folded the cash in a roll and into a receipt book and got another bright smile and handshake.

Afterwards, I realized in my flustered confusion and mixing up Cordobas and US dollars that I had actually given him an extra $20. A tidy little tip for a job well done.

An employee at the Nicaraguan Consulate for Canada, based in Washington, D.C., who declined to be identified, said she had only rarely heard complaints from tourists, but conceded that police corruption is a problem for Nicaraguans.

“In the country, yes, it is an everyday complaint of people.” She called the paying of money directly to police to avoid a larger ticket or prosecution a “vicious circle.” In casual conversations with half a dozen resident “gringos”, all said they had been hit up for bribes on the highways.

The current Sandinista government of Daniel Ortega, in admittedly anecdotal conversations with both Nicaraguans and expats, is more or less popular, but there are allegations of dysfunction, lack of press freedom and, especially, corruption. But it also known as one of the safer and friendliest countries in Latin America.

- paying the bills --

In a place that has had its share of revolutions, catastrophic earthquakes, a Contra war and which remains one of the poorer countries in the Western Hemisphere, the irony is the only time in two weeks of driving far and wide that I felt even remotely uneasy was when I was being shaken down by the National Police, the very people you are supposed to trust the most.

Related Articles

Nicaragua still the country with the greatest mobility in Central America in times of pandemic

TODAY NICARAGUA - Eight months after the first case of Covid-19...

Nicaragua restores 95% electricity service

TODAY NICARAGUA - After the damages caused by Hurricane Iota a...

MOST READ

Rosario Murillo: La Heredera (The Heiress)

Rosarion Murillo, the "eternally loyal" to her husband and political partner, Daniel Ortega. In a profile by Confidencial in October 2016, before her election as...

Better Air Connectivity Between Nicaragua and the US

The private companies' association is in talks with United Airlines to promote the opening of a route that connects Nicaragua with the east coast...

Nicaragua Unveils Central America’s Largest Baseball Stadium

Nicaragua has unveiled its long-awaited baseball stadium in Managua, replacing the former baseball field built in 1948. The new structure will hold up to...

Bianca Jagger Gets Into The Nicaragua Act Again

(American Thinker)  Remember Bianca Jagger? You know, the disco queen and former rock-star's wife turned leftwing "human rights activist" who was last seen mourning...

What Are Some of Nicaragua’s Popular Food?

TODAY NICARAGUA - Nicaragua is an interesting place, with a tumultuous history and a relatively peaceful present. and even if many things can be...

Nicaragua Praised by the IMF

The IMF noted the positive evolution of all the country's economic indicators, and the drastic fall in poverty, with an increase of 33% in...

Poll Shows Declining Expectations on a Nicaraguan Canal

According to the results of the most recent survey conducted by Cid Gallup, the Nicaraguan interoceanic canal project, a concession given to the Chinese...

Let's Keep This Going!

To be updated with all the latest news and information about Nicaragua and Latin America.

Log In

Forgot password?

Forgot password?

Enter your account data and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Your password reset link appears to be invalid or expired.

Log in

Privacy Policy

Add to Collection

No Collections

Here you'll find all collections you've created before.