Fighting the system

by bouldergene, Saturday, September 16, 2017, 17:53 (612 days ago) @ ZihuaRob

To pay the bribe or not? My second yr here in 2008, I had a minor fender bender. The following is the account I sent to friends then.

A couple of weeks ago I have a minor fender bender. On the highway out of Zihuatanejo to Ixtapa (4 miles ) a tractor came to a complete stop in the left hand passing lane – no cones, no notice, nothing. Everyone came to a sudden stop. I was unable to stop in time and I clipped the car in front of me (also an American). We exchanged insurance and had almost finished sorting the thing out ourselves when the transit police came along. They moved us to the return overpass up the road and insisted I call my insurance agent. I admitted fault as I had hit the car in front of me). We waited around for an hour and a half before the insurance agent arrived and completed all the paperwork.
Just as I thought we had everything wrapped up, the transit cop said he was going to issue me a ticket, which fine would amount to $1200 pesos / $96 USD – OR – I could pay him $600 pesos $48USD right there and end the matter. I told him I would not pay a mordida (bribe) so he issued me a ticket and confiscated my Mexican drivers license, which I had just obtained a few weeks before. I did not want to participate in the corruption which seemly permeates Mexican government.
I went down to the traffic bureau today with a friend who speaks better Spanish than I do. The "Judge", a young kid no older than late twenties, said I had incurred three "infractions" – speeding, following too closely and damaging another vehicle. After arguing there was no proof of speeding and the circumstances for several minutes, the judge said he would reduce the fine from $2500-3000 pesos to 1200 pesos / $96. We argued that the fine should not be any more than the mordida the crooked transit police wanted, otherwise, the next time I was stopped, I would just pay the mordida, and corruption would continue. He relented some more and said the fine would be $700 pesos / $56 USD, if I provided documentation that the other car had been repaired. l never received any such documentation from my insurance company so we had to track down the local claims agent and secure the proper document.
After securing the document from my insurance agent, we returned to the judge, paid the fine and retrieved my license back. (Two hours time for all this).
I then asked my friend to direct me to the appropriate office to file a complaint against the transit cop. He told me not to waste my time. He said transit cops, federal police have to pay their supervisor to get better assignments or keep the cop car (rather than a foot beat) or for whatever. Anything they get above that they can keep. He said if I filed a complaint nothing would come of it. In fact, the person taking the complaint was probably in the line somewhere. Then, he said that the "judge" had also asked for a mordida. Before lowering the fine to $700 pesos, he told my friend that he would lower the fine to $500 pesos if I paid him $200 pesos on the side. My friend told the judge that was probably not a good idea to ask that of me as I had refused to pay the mordida the first time and was going to file a complaint on the cop. The judge finally relented and just assessed the $700 fine.
What did I learn from this? That one person cannot change a corrupt system? To participate in the system myself and save myself some time and money? Hopefully, there is no next time, but I think I will just try to bargain down the mordida and go on my way.

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