Posts Tagged ‘bureaucracy’

I just replaced the old fire extinguisher on my escape boat, since the water nazis saw fit to cite me for its lack of charge, and so I thought it might be a good idea to see if I could recharge the old one and keep it in the Evil Swamp Lair. And so I called the local fire department.

“Sorry, we don’t do that, and unfortunately we are not allowed to tell you where to go to get it done.”

“What?! Are you not the people to call about fire prevention and safety? How is NOT telling me where to get it recharged in any way good for anyone?”

“Sorry, sir, but it’s the law. It would probably be cheaper anyway to just go get a new one.”

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Not content with shooting one foot off with the removal of their banking secrecy, Uruguay’s parliament recently ratified (August 26) an absurd new law that bans all cash transactions over US$5000. In addition, special information will need to be filed if said money originates outside the country.

It’s funny, really, because Uruguay’s main movements in real estate for the past decade have been made by flight capital from Argentina and other countries. A couple of years back, they removed banking secrecy as it pertained to sharing information with Argentina, wherein real estate transactions and large bank deposits had to be reported to the AFIP. That wasn’t good enough, because then the deposits just started to become smaller (duh), so in order to curb this awful activity of foreigners paying Uruguayans for their land and construction labor, something must be done, a nuclear option which will screw even the locals!

Movement of any kind will not be tolerated.

Considering that many Uruguayans probably don’t have a bank account at all, let alone a debit card, and 2/3 of them live in rural areas without banks, it will be interesting to see how this pans out. I am guessing that most stuff will just go black-market, and the areas outside of Montevideo will just separate themselves more and more from the stupidity of the little Tupamaro empire.

Since the new director was appointed to the SMA (Uruguay’s Servicio de Material y Armamiento), all manner of delays and holdups have taken hold. Chiefly, lockdowns on importation of new ammunition from abroad, and now major delays in processing of the Carne Coleccionista, which permits sportsmen, collectors, and enthusiasts to own larger caliber firearms and their accompanying ammunition. Normally, all Carne Coleccionista permits must be renewed annually before March 31st, a process which is done through agents in firearm dealerships or directly at the SMA office in Montevideo. However, since the 2013 renewals have gone in, few have come back out, effectively rendering those unprocessed renewals expired and technically making the ownership, use, sale, and importation of said higher-caliber firearms illegal despite any previous permitting.

Whether the delays are on purpose or simply par-for-the-course Uruguayan bureaucratic ineptitude remains to be seen, but the results are nonetheless unsettling.

To make matters worse, reloading supplies have all but dried up in Uruguay, and their traditional backup supplier, Argentina. I was recently quoted $6 per shot to reload .303 British rounds, after waiting over a year for the quote, as the materials had to be found first.

bigfoot

It seems that the Paraguayan embassy in Santiago is as elusive as Bigfoot. I have to get some documents legalized there and so I began my search on The Google.

The first address that comes up turns out to be an abandoned office in a dark building downtown, with decor that looks like it belongs in a 1940s film noir hard-luck detective movie. This is the kind of door that shows the silhouette of a woman in distress, knocking; a few moments later it swings open to reveal a sexy dame who promptly lights up her cigarette and pours out her lies as she begins her process of ruining the detective’s life more than it’s already been ruined. Maybe the door has been kicked in a few times; definitely seen a crow-bar or two. I look through the crack between the door and the frame, and there is nothing inside. Empty office.

I go back outside into the bustle of downtown. I cough in the smog-heavy air and the diesel fumes, and light up my own cigarette. The smoke washes away the city, clearing my lungs. Ahhhhh, much better.

I didn’t really smoke, but I should have to keep with the theme.

So I got my gumshoes walking to try the second address. Sure enough there is a Paraguayan flag in front. Nice-enough looking house. Signs point to go around the back. Around said house, in the pool house, is the consulate.

I go in, and it’s clean and orderly. Smells good. The nice girl at the desk greets me, and I sit down to present my papers like a good worker drone. Sharp fees, USD$95 per document, not payable to the consulate directly. I will have to go to the bank, and do a deposit in dollars, and bring the deposit slip back. But not today. Today after 12:00 the receiver of papers turns into a pumpkin, their inbox turns into a pumpkin, and a field of dense and unmovable spacetime forms around them which completely forbids any submission of documents until the next morning.

No sense in leaving these for pickup later tomorrow then?

No.

Because leaving papers-that-are-ready, today, to be processed tomorrow, so I only have to come back once tomorrow, and they only have to see my ugly face once tomorrow, is an act of efficiency and logic that is entirely unwelcome in a bureaucratic office. So I shall just have to bless them with my unique and sunny presence twice more.

As I shriek inside my head “Why, God, WHY?!?!??!!?!” I smile and nod and save up Postal Points for later when I go on the rampage which will be echoed throughout eternity by generations of fearful and fascinated historians. Vlad the Impaler will be forgotten and I shall be his replacement.

So tomorrow I shall need to wash, rinse, repeat, and make sure to shove the papers into the black hole before it closes.

We just returned to Uruguay after 2 months in Chile. It’s already noticeably more fucked here. 20% increase in food prices SINCE WE LEFT. On LOCALLY MADE stuff! I attribute it to the inflationary ratcheting mechanism whereby the peso loses a little value vs the dollar, either by UY inflation or USD deflation, the UY merchants hike the price in a reactionary way to compensate, and then never reduce the price. They then become accustomed to it, until the next peso devaluation. Repeat process.

This year UY increased construction worker minimum wage by 22%, along with an additional 22% increase in BPS taxes for said labor. Which goes hand in hand with last year’s labor and BPS hike. Which put a damper on construction, including ours; were were ready to push the button on the construction of a second house, until we saw that we would be paying some USD$70,000 worth of taxes to construct it, so it can no longer be done within the budget we had drawn up.

OH– and this is all nicely timed with the removal of bank secrecy for Argentines looking to bank or invest in property in UY. Builders are now marching and rioting and going on strike because they are being laid off from construction projects. Some construction projects are stopping completely due to lack of available flight capital from Argentina and shrinking input from the EU.

“How dare you run out of OUR money!?” is their attitude.

“Hey, in order to protest our being laid off because there are too many of us and we don’t work enough, let’s stop working completely! That’ll show everyone!”

Add to that the discussion, passage, and finalization of new taxes on foreign-earned income for all other expats. Which was then repealed to give them a 5-year amnesty, just in time to maybe get their residency or passports, if they ever get it (what a joke we all know that to be now). But hey, we’re thinking of your best interests, foreign investors! All that talk about raping your wallets, that was just political rhetoric. We’re really friendly. Really.

And our banking? That’s so stable that our employees are always going on strike, shutting down entire branches, and so we have reduced opening and working to 5 hours per day to give you the best customer experience possible. Oh, and now we’ve made it so that unless you are withdrawing more than 30,000 pesos (USD$1500) in a single transaction, our tellers will refuse to even deal with you. You’ll have to go to the ATM that tells you that you must change your pin before you can withdraw your money and then doesn’t let you change your pin. And so now we only need one guy in there, and 2 SWAT team thugs to protect him from angry customers. That and the removal of banking secrecy for Argentines, your biggest customer base. But it’s stable, really! That makes it really stable!

Just like the “residency is easy and granted in 6 months” stuff. And the passports for 5-year single and 3-year married residents. It’s guaranteed in the law. Really. And we clearly respect the law. Really! You can trust us 100%

Hey, where did everyone go?

Way to go, Uruguay!

Seriously, I am willing to bet that you start to see significant unemployment exploding here, and accompanying demonstrations, and families and whole communities unable to feed themselves. How Uruguayans can afford to exist boggles my mind. Their cost of living has literally doubled in the last few years and it wasn’t cheap to begin with.

The Musical Presidents in Paraguay has caused lots of havoc with our file being processed. The “express” version of the story is that Lugo was unliked by just about everyone, especially with his increasing Hugo Chavez fanboy behavior, and his opponents were just waiting for a slip-up to kick him out of office. The whole scenario with the gunfight may have been set up, but the world will never know until 30 years from now when the confidential files with the truth are released.

Anyhow, according to GermanBob, any time there is a transition in the regime (ie: after every election), there is general housecleaning in all branches of government, so all work immediately ceases.

To top it off, the guy in charge of Migraciones got the axe, and the new director stepped in ranting about how she will eliminate corruption.  I can picture her now, completing her speech about how she will turn the system around and clean out the corruption on all levels, and as she stands proud on the podium to thunderous tear-jerking patriotic anthem music, raises a fist in the air, and says, “Who’s with me?”

…cricket… cricket…

Well, that’s what happened.

So then in retaliation she put a stop order on all files in-process that were ever signed by the former director, legitimate or not. You see, in Paraguay, the lower level functionaries cannot compute more than the most basic instructions, and if a stamp is 3 degrees off-angle and a millimeter to the right or left of where their training paper says it is supposed to be, they will reject the application or declare the paper un-usable. Sometimes, and this happens in Uruguay too, they will flip their lid if you use two different colors of ink on one form.

Such was the case with one of my papers which was signed in the wrong place, but it was nonetheless legalized at their own consulate in the USA which sees these same papers all the time and knows exactly what is fake and what is real. One would think that this should be respected once the document arrives in Paraguay but “es lo que hay.”

IranianBob had a similar problem in that one document was a copy from the Iranian government who apparently does not wish to part with the original. No amount of explaining that they will not under any circumstances, ever, release the original, would convince the Paraguayan desk drones to accept the document, not even the fact that it, too, despite being a notarized copy of the original, was signed and stamped and legalized in triplicate by the Iranian Justice Department and the relevant Paraguayan Consulates. The paper, aside from the Paraguayan consulate legalization stamps and notes, was in Persian text, as if anyone in Paraguay will be able to read it anyways. The accompanying translation pages, also legalized, could have said anything, but seriously, if you have already bent over backwards to provide all these absurd documents, are you a harmful person? If we were scumbags we’d just walk in with a briefcase of cash and walk out with a frigging passport.

Anyways, we had to fight for various “solutions” to get our papers pushed through. But desk idiot after desk idiot kept coming up with the same problem, and this kept delaying our file. And then the fact that it was signed by the old guy got it stuck in a cabinet somewhere with hundreds of others.

The natives are restless and insisting that this new director be replaced at the end of the month. Nobody likes a boat-rocker in a place like Paraguay.

Rumor has it that our residency process is in the part where the ID cards are made, which is good news, meaning that either the director was shown the door, or threatened with the door and/or bodily harm if she continued her anticorruption rampage.