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Stopped by the Police, again.

Written by Robin on Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Tags: , , ,

Two days ago, about 1 hour outside of Lima, Peru. Robin and Raenelle deal with another typical Latin American policeman. This happened in Spanish, and took much longer to get the points across than it seems. In any case, read on:


Policeman: Hi, good afternoon. Your documents please.

Robin: Which documents?

Policeman: The documents for the car. You drove across the double line.

Robin: No I didn’t. And how could you see if I did, it is a blind corner back there. Here are the documents.

Policeman: You made an infraction. [policeman looks over the papers and hands them back]. Your license please.

Robin: Raenelle, can you please pass the international drivers license? Here you go, this page is written in Spanish.

Policeman: Thank you. You were speeding.

Robin: No I wasn’t. The speed limit here is 90 km/h. And how do you know, you don’t have a radar gun.

Policeman: You made an infraction. Here is your license. Follow me across the road to the police car where my partner is standing.

Robin: Ok. [Robin is getting annoyed and doensn’t feel like dealing with policemen right now. He needs to get to his camping spot, and it’s going to be dark. This policeman is putting him in a dangerous position by forcing him to drive at night.]

Policeman: See here [points at double line]. You crossed the line. You made an infraction.

Robin: [Across the highway now, and starting to raise his voice]. No. I didn’t. Which is it? Was I speeding? Did I cross the line? Or maybe I drove with my lights on? You police are just like the bad police in Nicaragua. What do you want? How much money is it going to take to bribe you away. This is dishonest of you and you are taking advantage of me. Welcome to Peru.

Policeman: [indignant]. No, no, no. No bribes. You made an infraction. Come talk to my partner. Calm down.

Robin: Ok.

Partner: [pulls out the Peruvian highway code, and points at a highlit paragraph]. See here, you were going too fast.

Robin: No I wasn’t. How long is this going to take. What do you want.

Policeman: [looks at his partner, and turns the key in the police cruiser. He points at the gauges.] Look, we’re low on diesel.

Partner: [agrees, and says something to fast for Robin to understand].

Robin: [raises his eyebrows]. You’re kidding right? You want diesel?? I don’t have any spare diesel for you. You cannot have any. And I did nothing wrong. And besides, this is bribery. You can write a ticket if you want, but you’ll have to follow me to the next town if you want me to pay it. [Robin realizes they don’t have enough diesel to follow him].

Robin/Policeman/Partner all banter back and forth for 10 minutes more. Robin gets increasingly annoyed, and continues to argue that he did nothing wrong, and that this country is proving to be very inhospitable. The police don’t like hearing that there country is bad. Finally:

Policeman: Ok, well you need to be very carefull in this country, driving can be very dangerous. Take it easy, and keep the velocity down.

Robin: Smiles, and shakes their hand. Thank you, I assure you we travel very conservatively. And besides, look at our truck, it is like a tank.

[Everybody laughs].

Robin: I need to go, or we will be driving in the dark. That will be dangerous.

Policeman: Ok, happy travels. Thank you for stopping.

Robin: Good luck, and have a good afternoon.

And we drive away. It turns out that the highway police in Peru are given a very small fuel allowance every day, just enough to drive their Land Cruisers to the outskirts of cities and stay there and pull people over. They cannot pursue or patrol, and are basically sitting ducks if there were ever a serious threat.

Further Reading on South America 2008:
Comment by Doug
November 7, 2008 @ 9:18 am

The fuel crisis hits Peru!
They just wanted to be stars on Newcruiser!

Comment by David
March 28, 2009 @ 1:21 pm

I am peruvian and have done some roadtrips in the country and out. Just a word of advise, when driving in Peru, if you get into this kind of situation, just hand 10 or 20 soles and forget about it. Don’t even get mad, just save some soles on your budget to make these encounters a “5 minute stop”. Not really proud about this, but is a good advice if you want to have a nice trip in the country and avoid the frustration these events may cause. Take care!

Comment by Shreesh Taskar
March 30, 2009 @ 6:34 pm

David –

I hear what you are saying, but it is close to impossible for a Gringo to do this. We will sit and argue in the hot sun for hours instead of forking over 20 soles.

What you say makes a lot of sense, but it is very hard for us to follow your instructions!

Comment by G
April 12, 2009 @ 10:49 am

I understand how tiring and frustrating international travel can be/is. But to call someone stupid (even if not to their direct knowledge) in their country, shows a lack of cultural appreciation on your part. Not all regions operate like we do here in N. America (how many times have we been elated to actually have a reserved seat on a plane/bus upon arrival back home).

My point, I guess, is that we need to be more mindful of local culture/policies. It really does suck because we often know we’re being taken advantage of because of where we’re from and the supposed endless wad of cash in are wallets. But, many police in Latin America get the bulk of their ‘salary’ from drivers they stop. It sucks, yes, but this is how it is there. And it’s the little things of difference that takes there in the first place, no?

Comment by Robin
April 12, 2009 @ 12:32 pm

G – point taken, reference to “Stupid Policeman” deleted.

Comment by Moreno and Ashley
May 25, 2009 @ 12:54 am

well the coppers sure can be a pain in these parts. we got the same treatment in nicaragua, where a guard at a service station had us buy him dinner in exchange for permission to sleep at the station, then gave us the boot just in time to be forece to drive at night. next the cops got us and started the “infraction” talk. we ended up not paying but sleeping in the police station parking lot and having one of them guard us all night. it was a very shady town. in corrientes argentina they tried gettin 1500 pesos from us, they just about got it too. makes you think our cops arent so bad after all eh?

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