My first bribe in Peru

Bribery is part of life here in Peru. If you get pulled over in traffic for example, just step out of the car and leave S/.20 (~$7) on the front seat. The cop will politely wish you a good day. While that may seem rather innocent, corruption in Peru has historically reached to the top levels (in English from IKN) of Peruvian government.

I’ve managed to get through nearly 2 years in Peru without bribing anyone, unless you count the time we were on the way to hand out Christmas presents to poor kids in a rural town and we had to give a cop a piece of Paneton for safe passage. Seriously.

Aside from the fact that I’m a cheap Dutchman, I just hate the thought of being part of the corruption. The bureaucracy is like a cancer here in Peru, with a bunch of middle class folks hiding in their comfy government offices enjoying the status quo, lining their pockets without doing a thing to improve their country. So I stubbornly persisted through getting legally married in Peru and obtaining my carne extranjeria without bribing anyone. But all that changed last week.

I got bribed.

OK, it wasn’t a real quid-pro-quo thing, more like what GE would call a facilitating payment. On the last day of class, which are always interesting, one of my students gave me this beautiful hand-made sweater for our baby girl.

My first bribe in Peru

My first bribe in Peru

It wasn’t the first time a student gave me a gift, but in this case the girl had missed more classes than she was supposed to, so it had a bit more of a “teacher please help me out” feeling attached to it 🙂

Honestly the so-called rule we have about students not missing classes is totally disregarded anyway, so it wasn’t as if she would have failed the class, but when she gave it to me in front of all her classmates, everyone laughed and said things in Spanish I’m only too glad I didn’t understand 😉

6 thoughts on “My first bribe in Peru

  1. Hahahahahahahahahahahaha. Excellent!
    Love the multinational “facilitating payment” comment.

    I haven’t been involved in any bribery in Peru, though I wouldn’t mind being on the receiving end a little.

    What a nice gift/bribe though.

  2. Seriously, we had to take a class on that at GE. You couldn’t ever do anything that would be “quid-pro-quo” or illegal, but you could make a small payment to go to the front of the line for a legal service that you eventually would have received anyway, even without the payment.

    • Is there a technical term for “transfer nine figure sum to Saudi prince, via nation’s central bank while government officials help keep it secret” or other similar activities? Even illegal things aren’t illegal if your company is big enough and owns a nice % share of a supposedly democratic law-abiding government.

      • It’s certainly sad how big corporations and their lobbyists have found ways to practically institutionalize their own existence while a few guys at the top reap all the bennies.

        Take the banks that are “too big to fail”, AIG, etc. If anyone believes the quality of life of the average American is served by the big banks on Wall Street, I’ve got a mountain in Peru I’d like to sell them.

  3. Damn. I was hoping you’d paid a cop. Never did that myself. Although my buddy used to joke that he had a running tab with them 🙂 From driving home drunk all the time. Isn’t that nice?

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