Speculative advice for (some) third world country checkpoints

by on April 9, 2014 at 3:40 am in Economics, Law, Travel | Permalink

John McAfee serves up many (speculative) points of interest:

The most powerful tool a traveler can possess is a Press card. It will allow you to completely bypass the “documentation” process if you have limited time or limited funds and don’t want to deal with it. I have dozens stashed in all my vehicles, in my wallet, in my pockets, in my boats.

I am paranoid about being caught without one when I need one. They have magical properties if the correct incantations are spoken while producing them. A sample incantation at a police checkpoint (this will work in any Third World country):

“Hi, I’m really glad to see you.” (produce the press card at this point). I’m doing a story on Police corruption in (fill in country name) and I would love to get a statement from an honest police officer for the story. It’s for a newspaper in the U.S. Would you be willing to go on record for the piece?” You can add or subtract magic words according to the situation. Don’t worry about having to actually interview the officer. No sane police person would talk to a reporter about perceived corruption while at the task of being perceived to be corrupt. He will politely decline and quickly wave you through. If you do find the rare idiot officer who wants to talk, ask a few pointed questions about his superiors and it will quickly awaken his sensibilities. He will send you on your way.

The press card is powerful, but has risks and limitations. Do not attempt this magic, for example, at a Federale checkpoint in Mexico on a desolate road late at night. You will merely create additional, and unpleasant work for the person assigned to dig the hole where they intend to place you.

Here is another bit:

Smile and, if possible, joke. Say something like: “I’d like to stay and chat but I’m in a hurry to meet a girl. Her husband will be back soon.” This will go a long way toward creating a shared communion with the officers and will elicit a shared-experience type of sympathy.

The advice is interesting throughout, but caveat emptor, please.

For the pointer I thank Patrick.

prior_approval April 9, 2014 at 4:23 am

So, no explicit comment deletion policy if we discuss any of the issues concerning the following ? –

‘On November 12, 2012, Belize police started a search for McAfee as a “person of interest” in connection to the murder of American expatriate Gregory Viant Faull. Faull was found dead of a gunshot wound on November 11, 2012, at his home on the island of Ambergris Caye, the largest island in Belize.[27][28] Faull was a neighbor of McAfee.[29] In a November 2012 interview with Wired,[30] McAfee said that he has always been afraid police would kill him and thus refused their routine questions; he has since been evading the Belizean authorities.[29] Belize’s prime minister Dean Barrow called McAfee “extremely paranoid, even bonkers”.[31] McAfee fled Belize when he was sought for questioning concerning the murder.[32][33][34]

Vice accidentally gave away his location at a Guatemalan resort in early December 2012, when a photo taken by one of its journalists accompanying McAfee was posted with the Exif geolocation metadata still attached.[35] He then appeared publicly in Guatemala City where he attempted to seek political asylum. On December 5, 2012, McAfee was arrested for illegally entering Guatemala. Shortly after being placed under arrest, a board to review McAfee’s plea for asylum was formed. The committee denied his asylum, so he was taken from his holding facility to a detention center in order to await deportation to Belize.[36]

On December 6, 2012, Reuters and ABC News reported that John McAfee had two minor heart attacks in a Guatemalan detention center and was hospitalized.[37][38] His lawyer stated that McAfee had not suffered heart attacks, but he had instead suffered from high blood pressure and anxiety attacks.[39][40][41] McAfee later stated that he faked the heart attack while being held in Guatemala to buy time for his attorney to file a series of appeals that ultimately prevented his deportation to Belize, hastening the government’s decision to send him back to the United States.[42] On December 12, 2012, McAfee was released from detention in Guatemala and deported to the United States.’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_McAfee#Legal_issues

Sounds like a real poster child for being able to live in whatever country one wishes – including the part of not even bothering to legally enter a country after fleeing another.

It is things like pointing out McAfee’s advice to avoid legal entanglements that makes this place the best satire site on the web.

Tyler Cowen April 9, 2014 at 6:59 am

The funny thing is, P_A is in fact the only commentator who realizes this is…the single best satire site on the web.

Dan Weber April 9, 2014 at 7:11 am

It’s impossible to not McAfee’s stuff and think that a) he lives inside a crime thriller novel, b) he’s trolling us, or c) all the hard drugs he’s admitted taking have done a number on his head.

prior_approval April 9, 2014 at 7:20 am

Well, taking it seriously would be no laughing matter.

hugo April 9, 2014 at 5:19 am

once got away from a bribe request in a car in KL by politely insisting that I needed a receipt to put the “special fine” in my expense report.

yo April 9, 2014 at 5:29 am

Not to imagine what’d happan if this advice spreads. I just imagine all those border security guards’ conversations among each other “I got five journalists today, seems like those Westerners are all writing stories on corruption”

JWatts April 9, 2014 at 9:28 am

I don’t think they would care much, if it’s a lot of journalists with the correct amount of “documentation”.

Eric April 9, 2014 at 5:54 am

At least the gifts and jokes part is very good. A friend of mine drove through South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana for 2 months armed with a stash of chocolates and cigarettes and a string of fun stories to tell. They were stopped all the time but never payed a single fine just by telling jokes while handing over some sweets or cigarettes.

spencer April 9, 2014 at 9:18 am

When I worked for Philip Morris in South America we always kept a couple of cartoon of cigarettes under the front seat that we could use to make friends with traffic cops.

Tom Davies April 9, 2014 at 6:27 pm

My experience is 20 years ago, but when I did London – Cape Town with three friends we almost never paid bribes to police, and never to cross borders. It did take us longer to cross, but once the officials understand that you aren’t going to pay they just do their job. Once (entering Nigeria) we were turned away, so we used a different border crossing the next day, where we had no trouble.

Zaire was the exception — officials were more assertive, but the bribes usually consisted of giving them or one of their family a lift to the next town.

We did pay $100 for ‘road insurance’ to a Zairian policeman around the 10th of April 1994, when we keen to get into Uganda quickly.

Namibia and South Africa must have really gone down hill if you are being hassled there — I had only good experiences with their police.

Steve Sailer April 9, 2014 at 6:38 pm

My cousin, who was a big handsome athletic party animal, always talked his way out of tickets whenever he was pulled over for driving drunk, including when he smashed into a fire hydrant while making an illegal u-turn on Clark St. in Chicago and sent a third cousin of ours through the windshield. Yet, his advice on how to talk to cops never, ever worked for me in getting out of the most niggling tickets.

Rahul April 10, 2014 at 3:15 am

Dang! I was expecting the punchline to be about a dead cousin.

Marie April 10, 2014 at 10:48 am

Crossed the border from Turkey with a colleague once, touristing. She traveled, apparently, with a ton of different nutritional supplements, vitamins, etc., and I told her I might be paranoid but that carrying a ton of pills back and forth into Turkey might not be wise. Night before crossing, she called me over, all smiles, she’d taken all the different pills, put them all in one big bottle, and threw the other bottles away. Problem solved, eh?

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