San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

I, Too, Had Trouble with Corrupt Traffic Cops

Dear Nica Times:
I noticed Alfred Thorsberg’s letter to the editor (NT, Jan. 4) regarding the corrupt police officers just outside of Granada.
I’m currently on a long motorcycle trip from Colorado to Argentina. On Dec. 21, 2007, in the mid-afternoon, I was flagged-down by the police in the same location mentioned in Thorsberg’s letter, i.e. the Masaya-Granada turnoff.
The police claimed I did not use my blinker signal when I pulled over and they demanded my papers.
Once they had my papers, one officer proudly showed me an Alaskan driver’s license that he had taken from another motorist. He explained that if I wanted my passport, driver’s license, and insurance paperwork back, it would cost me 600 córdobas ($32).
I asked for the officer’s names, but they refused to provide them. I asked for a receipt and they refused. I asked to be taken to the station and they refused.
Finally, the officer said he was keeping my papers and walked off. Finally, I paid the 600 cordobas for the return of my papers as I did not want to be on the road at night without papers.
I rolled a couple hundred meters towards Granada and was immediately pulled over again.
The new officers again said I did not use a blinker to enter the traffic circle and demanded money. I was extremely angry and demanded to see their boss.
They directed me to a pickup truck where an officer was passed out face down and claimed he was the boss. Right. I decided at that point to leave Nicaragua as quickly as possible.
Incidentally, more bribes were required to exit the country.
I’ve been on the road for 80 days and I have crossed five borders. I experienced more corruption in Nicaragua in two days than I did in 78 days in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize and Costa Rica combined. And while I’ve put thousands of dollars into the economies of these other nations, I spent very little time and money in Nicaragua thanks to the thieves dressed as police officers. Disgraceful.
Pete Tucker
San José, Costa Rica

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