Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Shaken Down by the Corrupt Mayor in Iguazu

A small airport in the middle of a jungle on the Brazilian/Argentinian border. I jump on a mini-bus with other tourists to bring me to the town of Puerto Iguazu. Just outside of the city a roadblock is set-up. We come to a halt, and a young, semi-attractive woman hops into the van and demands a 20 peso ($1.50) "tax" be collected to "improve the roads."
There is a grumbling on the bus, I think all of us intuitively knew we were merely being shaken down. I briefly consider refusing, but the idea of standing up for what was right versus the small amount of money saved, was outweighed by the strategically placed police officers lounging around outside. Drawing the ire of "law enforcement" in rural areas of the world just isn't a recipe for a fun travel experience. 
But there is no way this is legal, right? Certainly they made the amount per person small for strategic reasons, it's easier merely to go along with it. For sure if it had been $20 there would be far many more objections, me amongst them. 
I arrive at my AirBnb in this humid, tropical town and relate the events to my host, who merely laughs, assuring me that it was a recent invention by the mayor, completely illegal in the eyes of Argentinian law, and that almost all the money collected ends in the mayor's pockets, although some does trickle down; to his mistresses. 
The surest way to get wealthy in Argentina (and all of South America) get a political post with influence. The roads won't be any better next time I visit. 

1 comment:

  1. It seems nobody is happy about this:
    Lots of comments by local tourists. You have plenty of company complaining


Follow us + like us on Facebook as well --