Journalist, Police ID to get you past corrupt cops?

Discussion in 'Latin America' started by Nata Harli, Nov 22, 2009.

  1. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    In my mind I've certainly changed a few details but if I could sum up the things I actually said, and that I actually heard- first, I'll start with one photo:

    [​IMG]

    The cop in the drivers seat is holding a motorola razor. He was on the phone with his corrups cronies. The cop in the passenger seat was yelling at me, in spanish, "That's prohibited! Your camera is Intimidation!"

    I had been riding the speed limit and obeying every rule. At a roundabout these two saw me and signaled for me to stop. I knew I hadn't done anything wrong and that they only wanted to steal $200.

    There had been a bus in front of me- one of the big new overland buses. In the roundabout I could see the driver. He saw the cops motion for me to stop. I'm pretty sure he thought he was supposed to stop. Instead of stopping, he gassed it.

    Holy shit those buses can haul. In no time we were doing 90.

    My old 1100GS has a hard time doing 90 at sea level for very long. But we went for it. The bus was trying to get away. I was trying to go with the bus.

    Way behind us I could see the cops gaining on us. I kept thinking, fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckI'mfucked. I had no idea those old landcruisers could go so fast. Somebody- Guido? later pointed out that they are cop-landcruisers with a top end over 130 or something insane.

    When they finally caught me, I knew, from the old german's warning, that they would demand a fine in $US. If they said anything about real laws, then they were legit. If they started out in $US, then they were just bandits with badges.

    I knew my only defense would be how I documented the facts.

    I stopped my bike.
    I powered up my SAT phone.
    I grabbed my camera.
    I started taking photos- of the license plates, of the cops, of cars going by.
    The cop in the drivers seat yelled that he would arrest me.
    I walked back to my bike and called someone. I can't remember who- my daughter? An old girlfriend? Nobody answered. With someone I left my GPS coordinates and the license of the cops who had stopped me.
    I don't know what took the cops so long to get out of their landcruiser.
    Eventually we got into an argument about cops-as-bandits. We all did a lot of swearing. Eventually I got my mother on the phone. She kept saying, "Pay them." My mother called my sister, who called the US Embassy in Peru.

    The US Embassy told my sister to tell me not to pay them.

    I told the cops that I was on the phone with the US Embassy, and that the Ambassador was an old family friend, and that if they didn't let me go immediately, he would talk to the President of Peru, who would have every cop in the area fired.

    The cops asked my about my ipod. Pretty soon, we were talking about ipods, and it was like if the money thing had never happened.

    I can't remember how many times I was stopped in that stretch- maybe 4? 5? It's somewhere in the ride report. (Fake Journalism at its finest.) By the last stop, I was in a yelling, screaming argument with the cops. My mother and sister were on the phone with me and the embassy. I was very, very angry.

    My story, which was the truth: I was photographing and documenting my journey and my story was being read by tens of thousands of fans all over the world. (More "fake" journalism.)

    If I followed the advice of a few idiots, I'd have paid US$200 to several different bandits-with-badges, for a total cost of about US$1000.

    Although the Peru cops were the worst, Barb and I were stopped several times in Central America. All the stops were bullshit. I talked our way out of all of them.

    Using the "Fake Journalism" idea helped us get through a bunch of borders (but not the El Salvador/Honduras border). If I saw a modern computer with internet access, I had the border guys log on to advrider! I showed them the ride report, took a picture of them, and told them that I'd try to get them onto the internet!

    I kept my promise with the corrupt Peru cops.

    Hey Ken- you'll be fine. I bet that by the time you get to Lima, every cop from Cartegena to Ushuaia will have heard of you and will want to buy you a beer.

    Somebody remind me to get cards printed with some reference to my "fake journalism."

    I'm a regular consumer of popular mass media, and I've never, ever been exposed to anything specific about corrupt Latin America cops.

    Corruption isn't all bad. If not for a corrupt Colombia immigration officer, I wouldn't have been able to get my US passport stamped, and I wouldn't have been able to get into Ecuador.

    Jebus, Ken- look what you started. Next summer you're going to give a presentation on "Provacative Subjects."
  2. BobLoblaw

    BobLoblaw Comfortably Numb

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    Holy shit. Take a day off and WTF. This thread is great. Thanks Ken:clap

    I got a bunch of police stuff like shoulder patches and buttons. My stuff is duty issue legitimately obtained from cops I know but you can buy lots of similiar tourist shit at the local PD.

    I wonder if those handsome Peruvian assholes would take a foreign PD shoulder patch instead of $200:scratch
  3. BobLoblaw

    BobLoblaw Comfortably Numb

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    Bananaman, why don't you e mail your story and photos to http://www.pnp.gob.pe/ and

    also to http://www.visitperu.com/ and be sure to tell them you're a journalist for an influential internet site that promotes adventure travel to Peru and SouthAmerica
  4. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    In the US and in Panama the idea of a "Free Press" includes a specific lack of any official registry-for-journalists. You specifically do not have to have a licsense. My governments are specifically prohibited from requiring journalists to register with the government.

    Could you imagine how deep into totaliatarianism we'd have to have sunk for us to accept a governmental requirement that journalists desire to write be first approved by a government agency?

    If you say you're a journalist, guess what: you're a journalist.

    If anybody tells me I can't write I'll tell them to shut the fuck up. I'll write until they pry my iphone from my cold dead hands.
  5. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    [​IMG]

    :beer


    [​IMG]
  6. daveg

    daveg no longer homeless

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    Since we're making such progress on this thread...

    Are there any former or current US police that have traveled south and done the thing where when they ask for ID, you show them your wallet that one side has your ID the other your police badge?

    If so, what was the result?

    I know it doesn't work every time here in the US, but my police friends have said it works for them more often then not... even my one friend who doesn't have a badge but just a laminated police ID because she works in the crime lab :)

    It is a fraternal world out there.. everyone likes to help out a brother. Same thing goes for police.. same thing goes for programmers (like me). As stupid as it sounds, I know I'm much more helpful to other technerds out there than non techies. Or hell, when traveling, I'm always happy to go out of my way to help someone from the US.
  7. Reryder

    Reryder Onward through the fog...

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    Good onya cobber. I'll drink to that. (And BTW, in the north here we don't drink that southern Tooheys dog piss. I'll have a Castlemaine XXXX thanks.)

    Any my apologies to anyone who took offence at this old-timer's use of the term Third World. As I haven't been in the Americas for at least a decade, I hadn't realised it seems to have gained derogatory connotations there. I really do need to get out more. :D
    No offence was intended. Please read it as meaning Developing World or whatever your preferred term is.
  8. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    [​IMG]

    :gdog

    [​IMG]
  9. Pedro Navaja

    Pedro Navaja Long timer

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  10. Reryder

    Reryder Onward through the fog...

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    Yeah, that's the gear, mate. God's own nectar, that is.
  11. luciosiq

    luciosiq Been here awhile

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    all right.....all right.
    A few "Four X"s and a couple of meat pies with tomato sauce (not Ketchup), watching a bloody good League Match......:clap :clap
    No Tooheys, Fosters or VB.:puke1
    You win, Mr. Journalist.:norton

  12. Reryder

    Reryder Onward through the fog...

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    Too right, cobber. Good onya sport. You're a bonzer bloke.
  13. Reryder

    Reryder Onward through the fog...

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    It is disturbing that the rest of the world views my countrymen as some kind of stereotype gained from unrealistic beer commercials. Like most Australians I am actually nothing like that at all. As you can see. That's me on the right.

    [​IMG]
  14. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    Your ability to piss me off is particularly disturbing- I mean, your ability to piss me off is identical to the powers my best friends have. What I mean is, you'd fit in perfectly at the XX LARR in Carbondale, Colorado, next August.
  15. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    Now that our argument with the nice Australian man is over- I was almost ready to forget, but then I started thinking about the 1st Amendment to the US Consitution.

    I'm not just dumb enough to stand up to corrupt cops, I'm also dumb enough to stand up for the 1st Amendment right after September 11th. I was quoted, and even re-played on NPR (that's National Public Radio, to those of you who don't live in the US).

    I was bored. Nothing was happening at work. My office was right across the street from the Wisconsin State Capitol. I'd go into the Capitol and wander around. I noticed a public hearing about an Anti Flag Desecration law. I walked into the hearing room and listened. I wanted to puke. I think I was the only person who spoke against the law. (Thanks to me, the law didn't pass- at least I like to think so.) Obviously I didn't have any prepared remarks. I just kind of winged it. I was sweating and my voice trembled. I spoke as loudly as I could.

    "One of the reasons I love this country is because it is so free that I can spit on the flag. The flag after all is just a piece of cloth," Harn said. "By the way, I'm not planning on defiling any flags."

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
    — The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

    Anyone who wants to read my quote can find it here: http://www.freedomforum.org/templates/document.asp?documentID=14944

    The US Gestapo didn't come knocking. I wasn't arrested for blasphemy. Every once in a while someone gets pissed off at me for daring to speak against the flag. I tell them to waste time googling themselves instead of me.

    If you want to say that you're a journalist, and you're American, you can say it without fear. However, Reryder brings up a good point- in some countries, journalists are required to register. Kind of like foreign agents. If you're dealing with bandits with badges, this probably won't be a problem. If you're dealing with savvy, law-abiding tyrants, and you were supposed to register... ugh.

    Registration as a journalist might be as easy as writing on the immigration card, "Journalist."

    Every border I came to, when I had to write down my occupation, I wrote, "Rider/Writer/Caballero." I usually got a chuckle at "Caballero." In Panama, the literal definition of "Caballero," is "Horseman," but the standard definition is "fuckup." I still write this. Last time I crossed a border with my kids- going into Mexico last spring- they cringed. "Dad! You can't be a caballero!" "So what am I?" My 14 year old, with a perfectly straight face, said to the immigration officer, "My dad's an adventurist."

    In the US, for press "credentials," all you need is a business card, and, once in a while, a letter on your publication's letterhead. I'd suggest printing something with indelible ink on heavy cardstock, and get yourself some matching letterhead.
  16. Reryder

    Reryder Onward through the fog...

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    :thumb
    Hey, you never know. I might see you there. I am about 10 years overdue to go visit my mother-in-law in Montana. (Funny how that happened :D ). Montana to Colorado is not far to ride.
  17. Pedro Navaja

    Pedro Navaja Long timer

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    We are sliding into JoMomma territory. However, I might add that we are NOT free to kick-ass on anyone who spits on the flag. But you know what? I kick their ass anyway. It's only minor assault and I haven't spend any time in jail for it...yet :huh
  18. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    Nata Harli started it!

    If I just pissed you off, then we'll probably get along famously.

    Damn this is a good thread.

    Let's keep this one here, and start a new one over in Cs&M. You start it, something like, "Is Flag Burning A Good Way To Introduce Yourself To 3rd World Cops?" Never mind the thread. This will be your topic to present at XX LARR.
  19. Pedro Navaja

    Pedro Navaja Long timer

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    :rofl
  20. daveg

    daveg no longer homeless

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    My friend's journalist credentials got us into the Dakar rally in Valpariaso!

    I'm not sure if they were real or not. He has published a few motorcycle travel books, but I didn't think he was a "journalist".

    anyway...
    The german guy who I traveled with had a sign on the front of his bike in spanish that read something like "I ride for the charity of children"... He was hoping that would keep police from going after him.

    It did work once when in right after crossing the panama border. He got stopped by two police officer, rightly so, as he was hauling ass, going faster than posted speed limit. The cop was very aggressive and shaking his finger.... Theo, the german, was doing the no fumo espanol thing as usual and when one of the cops was walking around looking at the bike and started reading the sign.

    He called his partner and then their tone changed completely. They became really friendly and curious... Theo started showing him his travel map on his pannier. I then started speaking spanish and explaining the charity thing to them and asking them directions for th next town. Sure enough.. they let us go with no fine.

    That was the only time that the sign worked outright. We got stopped plenty of times and the sign was never mentioned. Together, we paid no bribe except in Costa Rica, where strangely enough we both paid a bribe separately to the same cop about a week apart when we were traveling solo.