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gpkgto

Nov 4, 2009, 5:45 AM

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Mordidas

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OK--In almost 10 years of living in Mexico I have paid one mordida of 100 pesos (not dollars!) to a transito to keep him from taking my license plate. I actually had to talk him into taking the money--he wanted to do his duty.

Has anyone else paid a mordida in Mexico (to police or other official) to save time or money?

Also: from the NY Times:

November 3, 2009 http://schott.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/03/mordida/Mordida
A Mexican euphemism for a bribe – literally, “a little bite.”
Minnesota state senator Michelle L. Fischbach recently made headlines after her family came face-to-face with a Mexican tradition of bribery while on vacation in Cancún. As Elisabeth Malkin explained in The Times:
The police took [Fischbach's husband's] driver’s license and told him they would take him to jail unless he came up with $300, she said. The patrol car escorted the family back to the hotel, where she says the group came up with the money. The officers declined to write a receipt.
What the police may not have expected, however, was that Mrs. Fischbach was a Minnesota state senator – or that she would complain so effectively. …
On Wednesday, the episode made front-page news in Mexico after Cancún officials released the information to news organizations, some eight months after the event. (Yes, those police officers were fired long ago.)
And in Paynesville, Minn., an hour and a half northwest of St. Paul, the Fischbachs got a check in the mail for about 4,000 pesos, about $300, from the Cancún city government reimbursing them.
The transit officer’s “mordida,” which translates roughly as “a little bite,” is standard practice in Mexico.
According to reports from travelers, the “mordida” extracted by civil servants has long been part of Mexican life. Indeed, a 1946 Times article calls the bite “historic,” but notes (rather hopefully) that it may be on its way out.



Brian

Nov 4, 2009, 6:36 AM

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Re: [gpkisner] Mordidas

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"Has anyone else paid a mordida in Mexico (to police or other official) to save time or money?"

Absolutely! Not so much in SMA, but in Baja California where we lived 6 years previously, it was just a part of daily living. I didn't get stopped very often but did pay up a couple of times when the cop didn't fall for my bluff and agreed to allow me to follow him to the police station. It wasn't worth my time. I also paid TelNor workers whom I flagged down on the street to perform services rather than wait for the bureaucracy to get around to it. Sometimes, a mordida should be viewed as a tip for service rendered rather than an outright bribe. Once we lost electric service when a street transformer became corroded by the ocean breezes. I saw a CFE truck doing work in another location and asked the employee if he could fix our problem right away rather than his being dispatched by the office. He said I would have to call it in. I offered 200 pesos and he said "de acuerdo". To my amazement, he went to an adjacent street, removed its transformer, and installed it on our pole. No pasa nada. That's just the way things get done. YMMV.

Brian


Rolly


Nov 4, 2009, 8:09 AM

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Re: [gpkisner] Mordidas

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I've been hit 3 or 4 times, but not recently. Several years go my city cracked down on the cops, so no more problems. I never paid more than 20 pesos.

Here is the story of my first hit. I've told the story before, but maybe some have not heard it.

I had just pulled into town at the end of 300-mile trip and was almost home. It was mid-afternoon. I was hot and tired from the long road and from a poor night’s rest. A cop jumped out from the shade of a building and waved for me to stop. I knew I had not done anything wrong, so I surmised that this would be my first encounter with la mordida. Tired as I was, I was determined that if this SOB wanted money, he was going to have to work for it.

He came up to my window and said very pleasantly, as they always do, “Buenas tardes, senor. Blah, blah, blah.”

When he paused, I replied with my worst Spanish “Lo siento, señor. No hablo español.” (I'm sorry, sir. I don't speak Spanish.)

He looked a little surprised and tried again. I replied with “No comprendo.” (I don't understand.

Then he used what I guess was his only English word: “Money!” In next several minutes he would repeat the word many times, but the dumb gringo just didn’t understand.

"¿Por que?” (Why?) I would reply. He would launch into a long spiel which I truly didn’t understand. “No comprendo” was my chorus.

"Coke,” he finally said holding out his hand.

Of course, I knew what he wanted, but I pretended to take the drug meaning of the word. That gave us a couple more minutes to get the dumb gringo to understand that it was the drink not the drug he wanted. I was determined to drag it out as long as I thought wise, so I continued to be very nice but very dumb. I was hot, but he must have been hotter in that uniform standing in the direct sun against a white pickup. When the veins in his neck began to throb, I decided it was time to end the game, so I suddenly understood.

"Oh, comprendo. Quiere dinero. Lo siento señor, no tengo dinero.” (Oh, I understand. You want money. I'm sorry sir, I don't have money.)

I though he was going to explode. I reached into my pocket being careful not to extract any folding money, and pulled out two coins – 5 pesos and 50 centavos. (50 cents and a nickel) I offered the coins, saying "No tengo mas." (I don't have more.) He snatched the 5 pesos. Before he could say anything else, I said “Adios,” and drove away chuckling.

Rolly Pirate


(This post was edited by Rolly on Nov 4, 2009, 8:15 AM)


richmx2


Nov 4, 2009, 12:09 PM

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Re: [Rolly] Mordidas

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You're an evil genius, Rolly :-)


http://mexfiles.net
http://editorialmazatlan.com


tashby


Nov 4, 2009, 2:03 PM

Post #5 of 50 (7784 views)

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Re: [gpkisner] Mordidas

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Has anyone else paid a mordida in Mexico (to police or other official) to save time or money?

Who hasn't? I think that would be a more interesting question. And since that will no doubt bring up volunteers declaring "I've never paid mordida", I'll be more impressed if you provide some background information relating how much time you've spent in Mexico, and importantly, how much driving you've done.

For me? Twice that I remember. Once in the late 70's (?) driving back to California through Tijuana. I made what I thought was a rather artful multiple-lane-change to access a very necessary and poorly signed (imagine....) on-ramp. The officer viewed the maneuver as more opportunity than art. Don't remember what I paid but I'm sure it wasn't much since I was just a poor kid and had undoubtedly shot my wad on a weekend of culture in Ensenada.

Then once last year on the big drive/move down. On the cuota outside Culiacan heading to Mazatlan. Federale pulled us over for nothing. It was hot, we were running late, and we had the dog in the car. $200 pesos and got into Maz just after dark.

I've turned down the opportunity to pay several times in between and since, if it makes me feel any better.


mazatlanlee

Nov 4, 2009, 11:27 PM

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Re: [tashby] Mordidas

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Ok, background first; I noticed that our van was sporting a burnt out headlight, and 'mentioned' it to my husband. More than once. Ok, so I might have mentioned it several times. But, just for a few days. Not to worry, no one is going to notice or care, so quit nagging about it, ok?? As luck would have it, one dark night that week, we were driving through town, and... got pulled over. Getting out of the van, my husband (bless his heart) suggested that I stay inside, and he'd go find out what the officer wanted. Yah, right... I knew without a doubt that he just didn't want me out there saying, 'told ya so, didn't I?'. So, I waited in the van. Ten minutes. Maybe longer. Then, he got back in and drove away. After some prodding, the story came out. He was stopped for a missing headlight. DUH!! My husband had put heart and soul, and many hours a day talking to locals, and was pretty fluent in Spanish by that time, but he (like Rolly) pretended he couldn't speak the language. Unlike Rolly, he didn't get away with it. Tossing his US driver's license onto the front seat of the squad car, he patiently explained to Ken, "Listen Senor; I know where you live. I know you usually drive an Atos. I know you have a Mexican driver's license. And, I know you speak Spanish. So, let's not play games here. You can pick up your license now, if you want it" Ken replaced the license with a $50, and then, they stood there talking as I sat in the van, stewing. The next morning, we had two functioning headlights.

My best policia story is of the day Ken was waiting for a bus and two of our neighborhood policias saw him standing there on their way to work. They stopped to offer him a ride, and of course the only place for Ken to sit was in the back of the police car. Imagine the fun those two officers had using their siren as they drove to our house and stopped to drop Ken off. We had a heyday explaining his choice of 'taxis' to our neighbors. Some of them were convinced that he didn't know the difference between a taxi and a police car! I'm sure the policia thought it was all good fun!

Lee
Lee's Photos: Beyond the Guardrails


Zorba

Nov 5, 2009, 1:13 AM

Post #7 of 50 (7723 views)

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Re: [mazatlanlee] Mordidas

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Haha ! Those stories are gems ! Your husband is either brave, stupid, or lucky. I dont know which. The last thing I would do is accept a ride from the police in Mexico.


chinagringo


Nov 5, 2009, 8:32 AM

Post #8 of 50 (7678 views)

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Re: [gpkisner] Mordidas

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Along these lines, I had an interesting story related to me the other day. The owner of two auto mechanic shops here in Albuquerque has numerous relatives who live in the Chihuahua area and he goes down frequently to visit. About two weeks ago, he was on his way back north and hit the very large Military/Federale checkpoint north of Villa Ahumada and south of Juarez. Since this is a key checkpoint, the scrutiny is quite intense of late and based upon our most recent experiences, most everyone is pulled over for some form of inspection. At any rate, they had a Federale Dodge Charger pulled over and were going through it. Seeing the Federale officer laying on thr ground in handcuffs and ankle restraints, he was curious as to what was going on and went over to see.

Apparently this officer while based in Juarez lived south of the checkpoint and had been making daily trips to work in Juarez. According to what he could gather from the conversations, this officer had been paying off the military and they had been simply waving him through each day. There had been a complete change of troops and Federale officers at the checkpoint overnight and he wasn't aware of it. The trunk of the Dodge Charger was completely packed with drugs and they were in the process of searching the rest of the vehicle.

This officer was totally defiant and screaming that all of the involved military and other Federales were all DEAD!
Regards,
Neil
Albuquerque, NM



Zarcero

Nov 5, 2009, 11:37 AM

Post #9 of 50 (7646 views)

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Mordidas

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I usually dismiss anecdotal stories, as we don't know how much embellishments are added once the story goes from one party to another. Personal testimonies, however, usually tend to be accurate.

In reference to the article, mordida does not mean "little bite". There is no diminutive in the word, so I am already doubting the story. Congressman generally feel they are above the law anyways and think they are real special, even when they do dumb stuff.

I guess I am just wondering why these things don't happen to me. Maybe I don't spend enough time down there, but in all my traveling about I have never been asked by the police to give them any money. If they did ask for a bribe, I most certainly would not pay, and I am wondering how much of what is being called bribery is actually people paying money who just want to get out of the process of having to go to the station to plead the case and pick up the plates. In other words, offering to pay for the sake of convenience, and then advertising to the world that they had to pay a bribe for something like driving around with a burned out headlight. Go figure. I have actually stopped the police and asked them for directions. They seemed most helpful, at least to me. I even did this in the dreaded city of Monclova, well actually I was in Cd. Frontera, even more dreaded.

Last Monday I was in Laredo for business, drove in my car from Houston. While there I walked across Bridge 1 to get a new FMT, since I like to have a current one for multiple entries. Simple process, but it was a banking holiday, so the Banjercito on Bridge 1 was closed. The guy said not to worry about the payment for the FMT but to just pay it whenever I could at any bank tomorrow or later. I walked outside and chatted with one of the soldiers there and asked if I could check out his scout vehicle. He said, okay but then his sergeant came over and said no. I told him I was ex US Army, so he then let me take a look at it since it was a vehicle I was not familiar with. Nice guys. After that I chatted with one of the aduana officials and commented about the bank being closed. He told me the Banjercito at Bridge 2 was open but that they are only processing tourists with vehicles and that there is no foot traffic allowed on that bridge. So I told him I would just walk through town and find my way there from the Mexican side. He said the walk through Nuevo Laredo is a bit confusing but that they have a walk along the river, closed to civilians but that he would escort me there. What a deal! When we went through the security gate one of the guards stopped me because I didn't have an aduana badge. The aduana official explained the banking situation so the guard let me in. I paid for the FMT there and got a receipt. When I came out my escort was gone. The guard who had let us in was waiting for me and walked me back to the gate. These guys were super cool. I generally get treated like this, but I guess there is a first for everything and maybe I will have a horror story to report one day.

After I got the FMT I walked back to Laredo. I did get questioned by the US Border Patrol when coming back across. They also didn't like me taking pictures from the bridge. Anyhow, I am back in Houston but will be going back into Mexico in a couple of weeks on my motorcycle. I think this time I will cross at the Los Ebanos ferry. One of the last hand-drawn ferries in the world. They don't do any processing there, but with FMT already in hand and the TVIP from the internet, the crossing at Los Ebanos will be just a sail-through.

Z


chinagringo


Nov 5, 2009, 12:15 PM

Post #10 of 50 (7633 views)

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Re: [Zarcero] Mordidas

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While I would tend to agree with you about anecdotal stories, I know this person very well and can assure you that I did not add anything to the story related to me!

As for personal testimony, Do Not Allow Your FMT to expire while out of MX! The fine is $5 USD per day following expiration. Either pay the fine or negotiate (mordida?) with Immigration officials. Been there and done that. Not enjoyable and can be quite expensive!

As far as paying mordida to some police officer, in 10 years of driving in MX we have had a couple of possible opportunities but no tickets and no payments. In our case, we don't have to fake not knowing much Spanish.
Regards,
Neil
Albuquerque, NM



Zarcero

Nov 5, 2009, 1:07 PM

Post #11 of 50 (7617 views)

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Re: [chinagringo] Mordidas

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chinagringo,

I was not referring to your story, but to the OP story. What you told was not a mordida story, but a law enforcement story. I've seen plenty of people arrested around the world and so would not be surprised to hear about this in Mexico. In this case, I am glad the Federale in question was face down and cuffed. Perhaps a stomp to the head would have been appropriate too. I do however think the mordida topic is way over done, but I guess it makes for good internet chat and "survior" type stories, "gauntlet running" in Mexico, etc. Some of the stories I read at ADVrider are amusing. I mean like dude you were speeding and now you don't want to pay for your ticket because it's "inconvenient" for you to go to the station. Oh! I see, you would like to mail in the fine, like in the US. Helloooo! McFly! Anybody home? You are in Mexico.

As for the FMT, I am well aware of the expiry issues, but that is good info for others. Each time I get an FMT I get it for 180 days. Same with the TVIP. That way I can come and go. Generally in those 180 days I will make 2-3 trips into Mexico on my motorcycle. The last trip of my riding season I cancel the TVIP and the FMT on my way out. I simply make sure I get an exit stamp in my passport in case questions pop up about the FMT. And for others, not cancelling out the TVIP is a real hassle as well.


tashby


Nov 5, 2009, 1:20 PM

Post #12 of 50 (7606 views)

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Re: [Zarcero] Mordidas

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Quote
In reference to the article, mordida does not mean "little bite". There is no diminutive in the word, so I am already doubting the story.

Thanks for the Spanish lesson. 8-)


Quote
Congressman generally feel they are above the law anyways and think they are real special, even when they do dumb stuff.

She isn't a Congresswoman, she's a Minnesota State Senator which is about a half-step up from Minnetonka City Council, politically.


Quote
I guess I am just wondering why these things don't happen to me. Maybe I don't spend enough time down there, but in all my traveling about I have never been asked by the police to give them any money.

I think you're right. I think it's just a matter of time.

That said, I've also had terrific experiences with different officials in Mexico... police, army and even, more rarely, beauracrats. Doesn't mean the other moments don't present themselves as well. Life's a roll of the dice. That's what makes it interesing!

Now, my friend who's in the process of building a house on the Pacific Coast. She even has a bribe - get this - listed as a line item on her build permit receipt. I'm not kidding and it's unmistakable what it is.

Talk about audacious.


Zorba

Nov 5, 2009, 1:46 PM

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Re: [tashby] Mordidas

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I think you make some good points Zarcero. A lot of people do use the corruption to their advantage. The reason for this is that the system is very inefficient, slow and senseless. I dont think you can use your experiences
as a visitor crossing the border to generalize on this topic though. It's very different to be living in the country, dealing
with the authorities on a regular basis.

I can give one very clear example. I was pulled over in the city by a traffic cop who claimed I ran a red light when I clearly had not. Clearly had not. We negotiated the payment right there and then he gave me a code word. The purpose of the code word was in case one of his colleagues pulled me over further down the road. So, you see, I had
already paid my "tax" to the mafia for the day.


Zarcero

Nov 5, 2009, 3:34 PM

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Re: [Zorba] Mordidas

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Tashby says "She isn't a Congresswoman, she's a Minnesota State Senator which is about a half-step up from Minnetonka City Council, politically." Ya know I really did read the OP <eyes-rolling>. Basic civics course for you - state legislators are "congressmen". The term does not apply just to the federal level, nor to upper or lower houses exclusively. Lower case "c" also unless it's the first word of a sentence. So neener-neener.

Zorba. The border crossing was just a for instance. I have been in/out of Mexico since I was like 3-yrs old. I am 52-yrs old now. I also do business down there with Pemex. I mean 'business' not just sitting on a porch all retired like, though I would love to do that as well. Like I said the mordida topic is way overdone. So, now the claim is that one has to live in Mexico to experience 'true' mordida? LMAO! Oh puhleeeeze! Other posts claim that only the drive-thru tourist gets mordida'd because the local expats are known. Everybody has an angle to this to suit their rant or perception.

My advice, you get pulled over again, refuse to pay. Go to the station. Or call a lawyer, etc. No need to play games. Ever heard of Edmund Burke?


Georgia


Nov 5, 2009, 3:47 PM

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Re: [gpkisner] Mordidas

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Well, we recently paid a mordida on the road to the Columbia Bridge in Tamaulipas. The rules of the road of each state are posted on the internet and I carry them. This is a stretch of road where, for no reason, the speed limit changes from 80 to 40 to 60 to 80 etc. etc. So, for a 10 foot stretch we were probably "speeding." OK. Give us a ticket. Nope. You have to go back to Nuevo Laredo and see the judge. "Nope, we don't." Yes you do. "Why" You are foreigners and if I give you a ticket you might not come back and pay it. "I live here. Just give me the ticket." Now, he's the guy with the gun. So, to persuade him, I pulled out the Vialidad law and asked him to show me in the law where he had the authority to take us directlky to a judge for speeding. I'm not sure he could read. He started to sweat. So, I asked what the fine was for speeding. 600 pesos. "Well, if I pay it within 5 working days it's only half, right?" Now, he is pissed because I am a smart assed gringa with the law in her hand. This is a problem for him. He was still the guy with the gun. He refused to write a ticket, give me his name, badge number, etc. I pointed out in the law where he was required to do this. He still had the gun. So, finally I said, "look, I have to go now. Technically, we were speeding. So, I will trust you to give the judge half the fine by paying it now. But under no circumstances will I go to Nuevo Laredo." So, he had to settle for 300 pesos. Immigration officials on the US side said we got off easy: most people were paying 1200 pesos.

I am not in favor of paying mordidas, but the sun was setting and I don't drive at night. He had the gun. I only had a copy of the law.

At a recent unnecessary stop on the way to Guadalajara I sat there with the Jalisco Vialidad law on my lap. The policeman saw it the minute I rolled down the window. Where was I from? Where was I going? Have a nice trip. Thank you and goodbye. So, sometimes it helps.


tashby


Nov 5, 2009, 3:49 PM

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Re: [Zarcero] Mordidas

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Ha! Well neener-neener on me, then. It has been a while since I took a civics class. Forgive me?

But actually, I meant to make that exact transitional point....as in...."I can only imagine what it's like to do business here...."

And you do business in Mexico? And you got nothin'? With all your vast experience?

That's amazing.


(This post was edited by tashby on Nov 5, 2009, 4:18 PM)


Zarcero

Nov 5, 2009, 4:37 PM

Post #17 of 50 (7527 views)

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Re: [tashby] Mordidas

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tashby stated, "And you do business in Mexico? And you got nothin'? With all your vast experience?"

I stated a business case in Mexico where mordida occurred in one of my earlier posts (in another thread). The parties concerned were very sorry they ever ran into me when it was all done with. Another incident I posted here occurred in Uruguay where airport personnel were involved in baggage theft. I made life difficult for them after that as well.

I am not saying the traffic cop stuff doesn't happen, but what I am saying is that the topic is overdone. There is paranoia here in the US about driving in Mexico. Much of it unwarranted.


Zarcero

Nov 5, 2009, 4:39 PM

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Re: [Georgia] Mordidas

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Georgia,

You probably played that right for the convenience of not having to go to the station. However, I am not sure what your gun comment means. Don't cops in the US carry guns too? <wink>


Georgia


Nov 5, 2009, 5:25 PM

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Re: [Zarcero] Mordidas

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Of course, cops in the US carry guns. So did I. However, cops in the US generally receive a decent standard of pay, don't expect mordidas, and with the public in general follow the rules. This does not apply to "driving while brown" or "driving while black". I used to defend those people. But when you are out in the middle of semi-nowhere, and a cop is doing something illegal, you can't just drive off. He's got the gun. And here in Mexico, I don't.


richmx2


Nov 5, 2009, 5:56 PM

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I always thought the most radical reform of the López Obrador administration (and the reason I'm a fan of Marcelo Ebrard, who was police commissioner of DF at the time) was to LOWER the traffic fines and make them payable at any bank (the tickets are your deposit slip). It made morditas for most minor infractions not worth the effort... that, and arresting a few people for offering bribes, as an example to the rest of us.

As to the Minnesota politico, so she's a state legislator, not a congress-varmit. Haven't you ever heard of a "border promotion"?


http://mexfiles.net
http://editorialmazatlan.com


Georgia


Nov 5, 2009, 5:59 PM

Post #21 of 50 (7500 views)

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Re: [richmx2] Mordidas

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But the cop has to give you the ticket. Often, they refust to do so. You can't just drive off. They have the gun. We don't here.


Zarcero

Nov 5, 2009, 6:02 PM

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But the cop has to give you the ticket. Often, they refus[e] to do so. You can't just drive off. They have the gun. We don't here.


So do you think he will pull the gun on you and shoot you for refusing to slip him the mordida?


Rolly


Nov 5, 2009, 6:45 PM

Post #23 of 50 (7484 views)

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Re: [Zarcero] Mordidas

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I sure wouldn't risk it. Where I live, I have heard many stories of death by police. Once in a while one actually gets caught.

Rolly Pirate


Georgia


Nov 5, 2009, 7:23 PM

Post #24 of 50 (7473 views)

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Re: [Zarcero] Mordidas

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See Rolly's note. The guy with the gun makes the rules .... or the guy with the gold. Whatever. I am a realist.


gpkgto

Nov 6, 2009, 7:10 AM

Post #25 of 50 (7429 views)

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Re: [Rolly] Mordidas

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It can be risky challenging the "macho" of any Mexican--they go insane sometimes--with or without a gun!
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