Posts Tagged ‘corruption’

Michelle Bachelet, the new president of Chile, recently appointed Claudia Plascencio Munoz as governer of Chiloe.

Why should you care?

Here’s why…

Claudia has been falsifying her income reports to appear as a complete indigent for years, collecting welfare money and other government assistance. This from a sociology professor, no less! She has also been entangled in two lawsuits for embezzlement of government funds that were slated for post-earthquake reconstruction.

In order to qualify for government assistance as an indigent, you really have to earn next to nothing. Anyone with a minimum wage job will not qualify. So a salaried professor?

What a great example to start off your presidency with.

Other folks in the government are already asking Muñoz to resign.

Read about it here and here.

My final thoughts on Indonesia, as I wait to board my plane to Japan:

Indonesians are warm and welcoming people. They are not xenophobic, and take delight in the new. They love to laugh and sing and joke. 3 large group religions that traditionally hate each other compete here for souls, and they all seem to get along quite well.

Yet, I cannot shake the sentiment that (and we’ve heard the same for just about any country including America) that Indonesia would be a great place, if not for the damned Indonesians. Hear me out before you oil your torches and sharpen your pitchforks…

Just like in any government, they vote in the most sleazy corrupt pieces of turd to official post and then wonder why their legal system is a mess, businesses are gutted by regulation and corrupt demands, currency is debased, and life is made tougher. However in Indonesia it’s even more corrupt due to tight clannish nepotism, and it’s so ingrained it cannot and will not be driven out.

Due to this, and due to the general culture of the people, the Indonesians are now terrible stewards of their environment. Absolutely terrible. The US gets a bad rap from environazis for this and that, but I dare any environazi to go to Indonesia, stay there a year in the charming third world Papuan villages, and see what the “sustainable tribal people” are doing to their reef and rainforest, then come back to the US where trash is managed, sanitation conducted, and conservation carried out in a clean and organized fashion, and let us hear what they have to say, if they still have anything to say!

The park fees to dive in Raja Ampat and Cendrawasih are very high, more than the average Indonesian can afford. More than the average diver wants to pay– Several hundred dollars just to enter the parks. Per person. Then there is the hiring, keeping, and feeding of the “warden.” Then the graft to the local village chiefs for “permission” to dive on their reefs. That money is all supposedly used to conserve the marine reserves. However, judging by the “wardens” we encountered, and the heavy audible fishbombing (and its visible results) going on in both locations, there is absolutely zero enforcement, zero education, and zero give-a-shit. That money goes to buy the ministers shiny new cars and shiny new mistresses, and not a dime reaches where it was originally intended. Loads of money is spent, tourists and tour operators are fleeced and inconvenienced, and the environment perishes under the watch of the scumbags whose jobs are to protect it.

Indonesians think nothing of bombing a reef with dynamite or cyanide to get a boatload of fish, a good week’s haul in a single day but that reef is now gone for 100 years and 10,000 times more fish lay dead at the bottom, rotting. They think nothing of dumping trash and chemicals into the sea. It simply doesn’t occur to them the long-term results of these actions. They don’t even seem to see the trash blowing up in the street, literally in drifts. And where there was once an actual clean space, as soon as a piece of trash blows there, then it is soon joined by new freshly-discarded neighbors. Oh, they can see the trash plenty good when they are looking for a place to throw it.

When the bottom rungs of your social ladder have been kicked out by government meddling, you have more important things to think about, like “will I have rice on my plate tomorrow?” and so to hell with the environment that sustains you. The government claims to be all mega-green and super totally keen into making sure their parks are well-kept for the future enjoyment of Indonesia and foreign visitors, but it’s 100% BS.

I’m going to go out on a very inflammatory and politically incorrect limb and say that the Allies should have let Japan keep the parts of Indonesia that they took during WWII. The Japanese sure were cruel bastards but they took good care of their stuff. And they would have taken good care of Indonesia. Much better care than the locals are giving it today, for damned sure. 100 years before that, one group of islanders running through another island to take it over, even waging genocide in the process, wouldn’t have generated any wow-factor whatsoever. But for some reason it was considered inconceivable during the 40s, and still is today? I believe that the US simply used the Indonesians as disposable generators of unrest and enlisted support in order to upset the Japanese occupation. They certainly didn’t leave their capital in Indonesian hands– there are dump sites where you can dive on boats, trucks, millions of rounds of ammunition that were all scuttled in the sea on departure because they would have cost too much to transport back home or on to the next battleground.

Sure, the Indonesians were given their independence but what are they doing with it? Destroying their lands is what. For short-term petty reasons.

Not all of Indonesia is shit-hole. Some parts are beautiful. The beautiful places are all you see when you go searching for information. But the intelligentsia only goes to these beautiful tourist places, and no longer wants to rough it to see the real side of things. You won’t see tattoo-faced people who just came out of the jungle and are gobsmacked at the sight of a white man. National Geographic is too busy these days with Top Hooker and other reality trash to waste any time showing you the true naked islanders of Pogo Pogo. And so you will never see the “real side” of Indonesia unless you go and do it like I did. Not that I can recommend it as wholly enjoyable outside of the scuba experiences.

The end result? Give Indonesia a pass until it gets its act together. Tell anyone who is remotely interested about the wholesale environmental destruction there.

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.

I have a headache from clenching my teeth in frustrated anger for hours. And other things. I guess it’s OK now but when it was happening it was blood-boiling.

Today the person responsible for walking us through the process had an appointment for something more important, apparently, and left us to hang in the bank to finish depositing money. Afterward, we were to be escorted, through the final part of submitting all the paperwork, by their runner thug who buzzes around the hive and does his “let’s get it done” dance in the hopes that the other bees will also do the same dance. He seems like a guy who can get things done, but he won’t look me in the eye, and despite the fact that he knows I speak and understand Spanish, he still speaks to me as if I am an invalid pasty-white gringo.

So we are sitting at the desk where the bored functionary goes though your papers and papers and papers and papers and papers and papers.

ThugBob has disappeared. And then after sitting in front of this dull worker drone for some 2 hours, some problem inevitably comes up. ThugBob, who knows the process, is nowhere to be found. We check across the street at the office where he seems to work, but he is not there either. We need his help to smooth the hackles down on the functionary because she cannot compute something or other with our application.

Now after experiencing the whole of the process, it is my firm belief that these peoples’ job is to look through the stack of papers and find one “problem” that they cannot solve. I argue back and forth with them, but to no avail. They cannot accept our application. Give me a moment, says I, and I go to look for ThugBob. He is still not there. So I just grab my stack of papers and stomp furiously across the steet to find out what we should do.

The attorneys had our papers for months, and if there was any problem they should have spotted it. Probably not their fault– everything looked fine. But the paperpushers still find “something”.

The attorney’s errand runner is not here. ThugBob is not here. So I call whoever I can, angry, to find out what we can do.

ThugBob eventually returns and acts surprised that we are not in the Migraciones building. He goes to “find out” what the “problem” is and returns with his pidgin English explanation involving what Paraguayans refer to as “solutions.” Si, por supuesto, says I. Que sorpresa. Siempre.

Now the “solution” does not phase me. I had expected it. However, if you are going to be a rule bender, don’t make me sit there in a chair for hours in my personal idea of Hell and hem and haw and say, “No, creo que no puedo,” and feed me with bullshit drama. I am not there to see your goddamn act. Instead, make it take 5 minutes, go through a cursory examination of my paperwork, say, “I see a problem here but there is a solution,” hold your filthy hand out and “solve” it, stamp my fucking papers and tell me it’s done. I have wasted the greater part of 4 hours doing this bullshit.

We solve, not insignificantly, the “problem” and then another hour later ThugBob comes in with a smile on his face and directs us into Migraciones to sign the now “solved” papers and have our photos taken. Part of what solved the situation was a letter about the “lacking” portions of the application, approved by some invisible Jefe with subsequent instructions for official forgiveness of said errors.

Not a single one of us escaped without a “problem” with our papers. Big surprise.

We are officially done, until some other “problem” comes up. 6 months from now we should have our documents and be official Paraguayan residents. Then we can come and go as we please and buy and register cars much more cheaply than Uruguay, and sometime in 3 years we ought to be able to fanagle some passports.