Archive for May, 2012

According to a cable in WikiLeaks, former president Tabare Vasquez’s brother, Jorge Vasquez, was under suspicion of trafficking Venezuelan weapons to Iran. During a 2007 diplomatic mission, the US received reports that Uruguay was “opening a test route” for arms trafficking. The report also declared that Jorge was stockpiling local weapons caches for the Tupamaros and other Marxist groups in order to prevent the possibility of a coup against the government.

Source: wikileaks/ElPais.

As if the Tupamaros need any more help. They are already in the Parliament, the Presidency, and they have taken over Montevideo and the other major municipalities either on their own or by installing their choice commie thugs.

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The Silver Curtain has been drawn.

It wasn’t enough that they could no longer exchange Pesos for Dollars without permission from AFIP.

And it wasn’t enough that they could no longer send Dollars outside the country without permission from AFIP.

And it wasn’t enough that they could only withdraw a couple hundred dollars worth out of any account in any given day without permission from AFIP.

And it wasn’t enough that AFIP had money-sniffing dogs at all the airports and ferry terminals to keep Argentinos from taking their money out.

And it wasn’t enough that with all these other restrictions in place, you can’t even buy gold to protect yourself from inflation without permission from AFIP. They have unapologetically forced Argentinos into a corner, robbing them of their funds, and are not even attempting to hide it.

Could it possibly get worse for them? Turns out it could…

A new law went into effect yesterday, in which any Argentine wishing to leave the country, even for tourism, must first register with AFIP (the Argie version of the IRS) in order to prove the source of the funds to make said trip. So long, Argentine tourists. So long, tourism in Uruguay. Up yours, Kristina.

Argentina had some 20% inflation last month, and the black market arbitrage rate is now as high as 6 to the Dollar when the official rate is 4.47.

Some further links, thanks to ArgieBob:

“Requisites for buying Dollars, and ability to travel”

“Do I need permission to travel?” which attempt to clarify some of the law (Resolution 3333) but doesn’t much succeed; however, the author does indeed identify this law as one that accuses all Argentine international travelers as suspected tax evaders who must prove otherwise. It appears to be an exit visa restriction disguised as a currency control, and vice versa.

This morning, an UTE technician shows up to install the new meter for our Opcion Inteligente service, which they refused to give us yesterday. I tried explaining to the guy that the lady at the office refused to let us change our service, but there he was to change it so “OK, go ahead.”

Do not look a gift horse in the mouth.

I wonder if someone at UTE reads this blog, or perhaps GhoulBob started the process and it was more trouble to cancel the request after she refused to accept our power-of-attorney, did the standard cultural “eeh” with shrug and eye roll and let fate decide. Truly weird. What makes it doubly ironic is that it is not even a consistent stream of weirdness and stupidity but a manic unpredictable chaotic stupidity.

Don’t get me wrong, I am glad to have the service installed.

…but is it, really?

We shall see in the coming months when (if) I receive my bill.

This is the time of year when I trim the fat from the budget and see where I can save some cash. My target at the moment is the electrical bill. UTE, the Uruguayan electrical monopoly, has a program called “Opcion Inteligente” which has different rates during different times of day, and allowed us to save quite a bit on our power bill (cut it in half, actually) in Montevideo.

Why don’t we have it in the new house? Because we asked for it to be installed with the new service, that’s why.

So today I went to the UTE office, with Power of Attorney in hand (the service is in my wife’s name and Uruguay does not respect spousal authority). After waiting from number 50 to number 75, playing Solitaire on my phone amid the numerous warnings that cel phone use is prohibited (boredom mandatory!) and just itching for someone to say something about it, I got my call to the desk of my assigned nondescript sunken-eyed ghoul.

I explained what I wanted, and she began to get the pile of paperwork ready to sign up for the service. She first tried to dissuade me by explaining that it is more expensive during peak times (5pm to 11pm) and I told her I understood. Then she asks, “Where is your wife?”

“At home,” she has better things to do than sit in an office waiting for zombies to do something that should have been done a year ago. And I do too, for that matter. Everyone does, actually.

“She needs to be here to sign,” she attempts to divert from actually doing something.

“No, she doesn’t. I have here a general power of attorney which gives me the ability to sign in her name for anything. It was drafted, notarized, and legalized here in Uruguay, and it’s even in Spanish.”

She looks at the document (not reading it) in its neat folder with all its seals and stamps, and then tells me, “It is old. I cannot take this.” because it was drafted in 2010.

“If you bother to read it, you will see that it has no expiration date and must be revoked to be null and void. Also, you will notice that it gives me the power to do things like decide medical procedures, conduct business, conduct unlimited transactions of unlimited amounts, and pull the plug to kill her if need be. So changing our electrical service plan should not be difficult.”

“That doesn’t matter. You need a certificado de blah blah blahh…” the noises she was making began to blur together and I couldn’t hear her anyways because of the adrenaline-fueled blood pounding through my ears, readying me to crush her larynx with my bare hands and drink the spurting blood as it shot geyserlike from her eye sockets.

I am Jack’s raging bile duct.

So while she stalls, I violate the no-cell-phone rule yet again just DARING someone to say something because now I WANT to hurt people, and I call the lawyer who drafted the document and explain the situation. “Put me on the phone with her,” so I do. They talk, and the lady refuses to budge.

“You do realize that you are a government functionary and you are officially refusing to accept a valid and binding legal document, drafted and legalized here in Uruguay. Correct?”

“Yes. You need the certificado de blah blah blah…” more sunken-eyed yammering from the bottom-feeding food tube.

With that, she got up and left her desk, never to return. Nice. I shall think of her while I rape the charred corpses of her coworkers.

A couple hours later, ArchitectBob, whom I had dropped in on during my wanderings and told him the story when he noted the veins bulging from my neck and forehead, called UTE of his own volition and tried to change our service for us, using his old POA from the construction of our house. They informed him that he had the power to cut our service completely or add new service to that property in our name, but he could not alter the plan (?!). So nice to know we’re so protected. Thanks UTE!

So I must return tomorrow with WifeBob in tow, and not get laid for a month due to the fallout from making her enter the den of bureaucrats and wait an hour to sign a piece of fucking paper. Thanks UTE!

…or…

Government: We don’t need you.

Two days ago, on May 25, SpaceX, a private company, successfully docked its unmanned “Dragon” supply capsule with the International Space Station. On its first try. Without killing any astronauts in simulation chambers, without killing any astronauts during launch with faulty o-rings, without cratering any remote planetary rovers into the surface of Mars due to discrepancies in the Imperial and Metric systems of measurement, and without killing any astronauts during re-entry with faulty insulation foam…

In fact, no animals or humans were harmed in the making of this event, whatsoever. Because it was done by capitalists.

Well, I shouldn’t say it is entirely without harm, because SpaceX still got funding forced at gunpoint from myself and others who were born in the USA… but if it weren’t for the tax man and the regulators, we’d probably all be flying around in our personal SpaceX Jetsonmobiles already.

Nice out-of-focus picture of a historic event. In HD! Image courtesy of ExpatBob’s tax dollars (no wonder!).

And nobody cares, because they are too busy wondering who is going to dance with the stars, and what subhuman filth will slither forth from the PCB soup which breaks upon the Jersey Shore.

Forget being on a boat. I’m in Space, muthafucka!

At the grocery store, while in search for some “quick” snack/lunch type stuff, I decided to throw a box of frozen empanadas into the cart.

6 frozen empanadas cost UY$134. That is 22 pesos each, about US$1.10

Not bad, considering. However the price of a fresh empanada in a “quick” restaurant, grocery store fiambreria, gas station, etc is about 25 pesos.

So, the ones in the box are cheaper. Or are they?

Let us calculate the cost of electricity to preheat the oven for 10 minutes and bake the empanadas for 20. Total 30 minutes used in a 2000-watt oven equals 1000 watts, or 1 kilowatt. Depending on the time of day and amount of total power you have used (it is a progressive scale), 1kw sells between 3 and 5 pesos. Which adds roughly 1 more peso to each empanada, bringing them to 23 pesos.

Considering you also have to keep them frozen and transport them to your house, we can make an educated guess that it probably adds 2 more pesos to the cost of each one, bringing them to equal the price of fresh empanadas. If you keep them frozen for a long time period, they will actually cost you more than getting them fresh at a restaurant.

To add insult to injury, the frozen empanadas rarely turn out right and “optimal cooking” usually makes them burnt at the edges and so soggy in the middle that they fall apart when you remove them from the oven (if they don’t stick to the tray and rip their guts out on retrieval). I could see spending less money on these things for the convenience of having them at home; however, now that I am calculating it in an official capacity, I can clearly see that there is absolutely no point to buying frozen empanadas here. You are paying an equal amount or more for an inferior product.

2 cheap frozen plain cheese pizzas cost UY$214.85, or $10.56. That’s $5.28 each. For the cheap kind. You can get Papa John’s to deliver more, better, fresher pizza to you for less than that. Or Pizza Hut. Regular price, 4 bucks, 4 bucks, 4 bucks. Oh, wait, we don’t have Papa John’s here, or Pizza Hut. Thank the Pizza Police. We only have pizza por metro in various places that cost more than this, for bland pizza that is cheap on sauce and cheese and toppings. One would think that pizza, being made of cheap ingredients, and with a pizzeria in every restaurant and at every corner mom-and-pop store in the country, it might be cheap. But alas, it is not. We need to keep that flavorless pizza culture protected!

Between November 2011 and February 2012, the statistics in Punta Carretas, Montevideo, are shocking:

  • 39% of the population were victims of theft or assault at least once during that 4-month period. That is 2 out of every 5 people.
  • 72% of the robberies were non-violent, meaning that 28% (greater than 1 in 4) of the robberies were violent. Violent robberies account for 38% in the rest of Montevideo.
  • Therefore, 11% of the population of Punta Carretas, greater than 1 in 10, was violently robbed in that 4-month time period.
  • 40% of total annual crime occurs in this 4-month period.
  • According to survey, 50% of the people feel that their experiences with the police, post-incident, were negative.
  • In 35% of the cases, the police took longer than 16 minutes to respond or never showed up at all.
  • Of all the cases, 11% result in arrest, and only 9% go to judicial proceedings.
  • Survey shows that 60% of people do not feel safe in their own neighborhood.
  • 65% surveyed call for greater police presence.

And, to twist the knife…

  • It is estimated that 60% of robberies and assaults go unreported.

Source: El Pais, thanks to SwingDanceBob.