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In Venezuela, This Is How You Convert $1 Into $175,000

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by Francisco Toro via the Caracas Chronicles blog,

Say you come into Venezuela with just $1 and an eye for business. Just how much money can you turn that bill into using tried-and-true, being-used-right-now scams? With a bit of gumption the answer to that is…$175K or so. Really. Here’s how.

First, take your crisp new dollar bill to a black market currency dealer and buy yourself Bs.85.

Did you make sure to get travel insurance before you trip?


Now go to a doctor and buy yourself Bs.85 worth of medical attention. Any pretext will do. Don’t forget to get a receipt, though: your insurance company back home will reimburse your 85 bolivar claim at the official rate, giving you back $1 for every 6 bolivars and 30 cents you spent.

So after one doctor’s visit, your $1 has already turned into $13.50. Not too bad.

But we’re just getting going here. Needless to say your next step is to take your $13.50 right back to the currency tout and buy yourself 1,150 bolivars.

Next, take your 1,150 bolivars to any reputable Caracas jeweller. There, you can get about 5.7 grams of 18-karat gold for that. As it turns out, back stateside those 5.7 grams of gold are worth $182.29.

Your Caracas black market dollar dealer will be expecting your call by now: the $182.29 you netted for the gold buys you 15,495 bolivars.

This is fun, isn’t it?

But maybe you’re getting a bit impatient at this point. Sure, a 18,290% profit with no risk and for doing no real work isn’t too bad, but let’s say you want to make some real money.

For that, you need to go to a market with genuinely grotesque price differential. And in a petrostate like Venezuela, that can only mean one thing: gasoline.

At Venezuela’s ludicrous price of 0.097 bolivars per liter, the 15,495 bolivars currently burning a hole in your pocket can buy 159,742 liters of unleaded gas. That’s 42,200 gallons or so.

The next step is to load your gas into a tanker truck and drive it out to Colombia, where each and every one of your 42,200 gallons will sell for US$4.14.

By the time it’s all said and done, that clean, crisp $1 bill you came into Venezuela with has turned into US$174,905.

That’s a seventeen million percent profit margin for doing basically nothing.

This isn’t just some thought exercise, it’s the central reality of the Venezuelan economy today.

The catch, of course, is that the viability of each of these scams depends first and foremost on having official protection from some regime-connected power broker. You can’t smuggle gasoline out of the country without a National Guard officer (or 10) taking a cut. You can’t load much gold into a northbound plane without paying off an airport guard. Any attempt to buy a substantial number of official rate dollars is going to depend on some regime official – probably wearing olive green -giving his go-ahead.

As the protests mount on the streets, it’s important not to lose sight of this: it’s these rackets those guys are protecting.

And their willingness to use violence to protect them is roughly proportional to the profit margins involved.


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Thu, 03/06/2014 - 20:34 | 4519412 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

I suspect that those little tricks will not last long.

I am in Peru now, NOTHING like that happens here.

Even back in the hyperinflation days, well you could make a little coin, but not like that.

Gold merchants are not stupid.

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 20:36 | 4519419 StacksOnStacks
StacksOnStacks's picture

*takes deep breath and exhales*  I'll be right back!

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 20:38 | 4519433 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

On the other hand, if your Spanish is good and you bring along your prescription receipts from your US pharmacy, many pharmacies will let you buy more...  If they have what you want (a big if in Venezuela now).

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 20:48 | 4519480 Herd Redirectio...
Herd Redirection Committee's picture

Except for the part about filling up an oil tanker truck and being allowed to leave the country, he had me going.

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 20:55 | 4519504 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Actually that is (or until recently perhaps, was) BIG BUSINESS along the Colombia-Venezuela border.  Just have to bribe the right people.

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 22:00 | 4519733 Richard Chesler
Richard Chesler's picture

Best part is tungsten is not a gasoline additive.

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 22:52 | 4519875 Mister Kitty
Mister Kitty's picture

I've never been to Caracas.  I bet it sucks ass.  Bitches.

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 21:17 | 4519595 Urban Redneck
Urban Redneck's picture

If you want the the big bucks- you need to cut out the middlemen, pump up the volume, and jump into the deep end of the risk pool- e.g. Vitol in Libya, who didn't wait for no stinkin' central bank, but the deep end of the risk pool is packed sharks that no sane person would do business with... So unless you're willing to sell your soul, it probably better to aim lower.

Fri, 03/07/2014 - 01:28 | 4520196 saltedGold
saltedGold's picture

"Except for the part about filling up an oil tanker truck and being allowed to leave the country, he had me going."

Me too.  Take the easy win and get $10,000 worth of medical care and call it a day!

Fri, 03/07/2014 - 04:10 | 4520345 Cap Matifou
Cap Matifou's picture

One tanker truck will not hold it all, 8 is needed. Or 8 crossings.

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 20:36 | 4519422 fonestar
fonestar's picture

Venezuelans will be going over to Satoshi's side.  The whole world is Cyprus.

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 20:42 | 4519451 bluskyes
bluskyes's picture

They're immigrating to California?

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 20:48 | 4519476 StacksOnStacks
StacksOnStacks's picture

GREAT!  That's all we need is more people leeching off of the system.

Fri, 03/07/2014 - 11:37 | 4521225 XitSam
XitSam's picture

CA will be the first big state to go full on tyranny.  The sooner the better.

PS. Southern California Refugees: It is a long hot empty desert to your east. You will die. Better to go north.

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 20:43 | 4519453 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

I heard BTC is gaining lots of traction in Argentina.  Would not surprise me at all if Venezuelans start using it big time.

I am now in Peru.  I hope I can find a jeweler or coin shop who takes BTC.

Then ZH-er "CrashIsOptmistic" will have been shown to be correct: BTC allows you to easily move BTC (OK, now have done that) and spend it almost anywhere (not yet).  

Once Peru takes it, almost everyone will.

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 21:02 | 4519532 DumpsterFire
DumpsterFire's picture

Saw a brass BTC at my PM dealer.  Not sure what to think.

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 21:13 | 4519567 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

If you want to buy BTC and not leave a trail, find a local and buy for cash (try, I found someone there, emailed him, and bought BTC twice at a bearby Starbucks).

I have bought BTC twice from strangers by US mail, but that requires trust...  He was a ZH-er.

Much of my little BTC adventures is at my blog.

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 21:15 | 4519582 Confused
Confused's picture

Actually, this scam requires something....effort. Not like TARP or anything, where all you do is just make a call. 

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 23:13 | 4519935 MrButtoMcFarty
MrButtoMcFarty's picture

I think I will stick with nickels, silver, and gold.

Hope it works out for you.

Fri, 03/07/2014 - 00:14 | 4520085 JLee2027
JLee2027's picture

The OP's Bullion dealer does cash both ways.

Not sure why anyone would want a brass BTC though. Real Gold is better.

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 21:28 | 4519637 TheReplacement
TheReplacement's picture

Man you must annoy the hell outta that guy.  He just wants to be left alone and here you are always acting like he's some perfect being and all that while you huckster your bitcraps.  Give it a rest.  Everyone, even Satoshi would appreciate it.

Fri, 03/07/2014 - 07:36 | 4520484 negative rates
negative rates's picture

The whole world execpt you, because you are completely insane.

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 20:39 | 4519429 prains
prains's picture

what does a roll of toilet paper go for in VNZ?



why not just skip to buying ridiculously cheap gas and shipping elsewhere?

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 20:38 | 4519430 fonestar
fonestar's picture

It's spelled "fonestar" dumbass.  And her death was covered several pages ago.

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 20:50 | 4519487 prains
prains's picture

no dorkstar it's spelled "brain hemorrhage" dumbass and you've managed well with it for some time now

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 21:31 | 4519648 stacking12321
stacking12321's picture

that depends on the site.

if you are at (Legitimate news from accredited writers), it is spelled PHONEstar there, as i noted when i was dilligently perusing the comments section:

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 22:14 | 4519776 fonestar
fonestar's picture

What the fuck?  This is not the real fonestar!  fonestar is fonestar!

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 23:10 | 4519924 MrButtoMcFarty
MrButtoMcFarty's picture



Fri, 03/07/2014 - 11:39 | 4521241 XitSam
XitSam's picture


This is fight club. We call you what we want.

Sat, 03/08/2014 - 03:00 | 4524404 Independent
Independent's picture

FARTstar, Coinstar, Deathstar, Funnystar, Fukushimastar, Fellaciostar, and last but not least FUDGEstar

Fri, 03/07/2014 - 00:17 | 4520090 JLee2027
JLee2027's picture

American CEO that lived in Singapore.

Now that makes sense. Virtual money, virtual CEO's. Dead ones.

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 20:37 | 4519424 jcpicks
jcpicks's picture

I didn't realize arbitrage was a new thing.

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 21:09 | 4519560 El Vaquero
El Vaquero's picture

New?  Nope.  But it is what's for breakfast.

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 20:40 | 4519440 Son of Captain Nemo
Son of Captain Nemo's picture

"The catch, of course, is that the viability of each of these scams depends first and foremost on having official protection from some regime-connected power broker. You can’t smuggle gasoline out of the country without a National Guard officer (or 10) taking a cut. You can’t load much gold into a northbound plane without paying off an airport guard. Any attempt to buy a substantial number of official rate dollars is going to depend on some regime official – probably wearing olive green -giving his go-ahead."...

Replace National Guard Officer with TSA/DHS representative and you have yourself a match, if you want to get Au and Ag out of Los Estados Unidos!

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 21:01 | 4519496 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

For now, you may take all the gold you want out of the USA, but you must declare it on a special Customs Form if over $10,000 worth (at your international airport).  I did this once, the Customs lady (definitely a "B-Teamer" -- it was the weekend...) was at first befuddled and had to make a couple of calls to ask what to do, LOL.

Then she tried to set me up by asking how much they were worth (actual value, not "face value").  Bitch.  A felony to lie.

If you take gold OUT of your country, CHECK the laws first!


For small amounts of gold coins, just put them in your rubber coin-pouch thing (mine says Mt. Rushmore)...

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 21:33 | 4519654 stacking12321
stacking12321's picture

so what did you tell her?

and why would anyone lie, when they can simply state, i haven't checked the spot price of gold lately, so i don't know?


Thu, 03/06/2014 - 22:56 | 4519885 Midas
Midas's picture

F the spot price, my uncle Warren says it's a barbarous relic and ain't worth shit.  Put that on your customs form, hon.

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 20:40 | 4519442 NOTaREALmerican
NOTaREALmerican's picture

Lord Blankenfiend says about that childish scam:  I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 20:41 | 4519446 bluskyes
bluskyes's picture

What's the difference between paying a guard directly, and paying him indirectly through taxes?

Sounds like Venezuela's tax system runs more efficiently than Amerika's

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 20:45 | 4519465 NOTaREALmerican
NOTaREALmerican's picture

Re:  What's the difference between paying a guard directly, and paying him indirectly through taxes?

There's a huge difference.    It's THEE major difference between a functional society and one based on bribry.

Someday, imagine yourself as a semi-autistic intervert and IMAGINE trying to negotiate your way through life with every extroverted asshole trying to shake-you-down.

Yeah,  a functional society - where the price is known UP FRONT - is what makes things liveable for the semi-autistic and introverts.  

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 20:55 | 4519502 johnQpublic
johnQpublic's picture

which one do we have?

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 21:00 | 4519528 NOTaREALmerican
NOTaREALmerican's picture

Re:  which one do we have?

In transition.  That's what the semi-autistics & introverts don't get.   When the dumbass peasants go "full Greek" this place will be hell for them.

The best thing about having a functional society is you don't have to negotiate with asshole if you don't want to or are incapable of doing so. 

What's the price,  here's my money,  do the task, leave me alone.  

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 21:04 | 4519545 pavman
pavman's picture

See my comment below.  This is a sign that we're transitioning...when you can't even negotiate with car dealers because they're all offering you that 'car max thing.'  BULLSHIT!!!

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 20:59 | 4519519 pavman
pavman's picture

where the price is known UP FRONT

You mean every modern 'internet' car dealership on the planet?  F'n car dealers...we know your 'internet price' is the starting point and that 'Eddie Rumper's Cheverolette' isn't 'CarMax.'  You're lucky I graced you with my presence.  If you don't knock of 8k, good luck selling that jalopy.

Two words: Herpa Derp

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 21:08 | 4519559 NOTaREALmerican
NOTaREALmerican's picture

Re:  You mean every modern 'internet' car dealership on the planet? 

People expect bidness to be run by sociopaths and assholes.   Econ 101 says in bold print:  people will fuck you over unless there's competition.    They'll fuck you over because people are assholes.   And the ONLY protection people have from getting fucked over by bidness IS competition of bidness; because people running bidness are fucking assholes because ALL people are assholes (but I already said that).

Societies, however, are functional or not depending on how (relatively) honest the monopolies of power are.  

Ask any Indian or 3rd world imigrant what they like about America.   They'll almost always say:  I don't have to bribe.   Once THAT goes,   the introverts & semi-austistics that lived very well here without having to deal with bribing assholes are going to be ABSOLUTLY FUCKED.  

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 21:21 | 4519610 Herd Redirectio...
Herd Redirection Committee's picture

No, we already have institutionalized bribery, in the form of unions, 'public service', and the revolving door between goverment (esp. on the regulation side) and industry.

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 22:04 | 4519743 Errol
Errol's picture

NOTaREALmerican, as an aspie (Asperger's Syndrome) I genuinely appreciate your insight.  I do indeed feel "What's the price?  Here's the money, leave me alone."

I am probably going to respond poorly to some pushy turd up in my face for a bribe.  But I may be less hapless than you might think: US public schools provide years of training for dealing with "authorities", bullies, charismatic narcissistic sociopaths, and the like.  As a start, play dumb (easy enough to fool most narcissists; from the outset they believe everyone else is below them) and stay under the radar. 

When stealth fails, well planned, patiently delayed passive-aggressive retaliation has provided satisfactory compensation for whatever I feel I've been unfairly deprived of... 

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 22:26 | 4519801 Grande Tetons
Grande Tetons's picture

He did write semi autistic, Dr. Burry.  Some aspies consider their afflction to be akin to winning the genetic lottery.  I am sure you would concur at some level. 

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 22:27 | 4519813 FredFlintstone
FredFlintstone's picture

"genetic lottery", how so?

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 23:23 | 4519962 Grande Tetons
Grande Tetons's picture

In a word, focus. It is a double edged sword. 

Fri, 03/07/2014 - 06:51 | 4520446 FredFlintstone
FredFlintstone's picture

Got, it. Thanks.

Fri, 03/07/2014 - 03:24 | 4520285 Marlon Brando
Marlon Brando's picture

I beg to differ, bribery on the entire scale levels the playing field.In a so called third world country I get to pay the traffic cop ten bucks and my government bribed so they would mandate it screw me in the ass insurance prices will not go up.  Right now  only the corzines, etc are allowed to get away with bribery. Id much rather the traffic cop get a small percentage than pay a huge ticket, and then get double screwed when my insurance rates rise. Which we pay way to much for to begin with thanks to the Buffets of the world having their crony;s in office make the population pay inflated insurance prices. Free market? Not.

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 20:58 | 4519520 PHantomofthemarkets
PHantomofthemarkets's picture

Reading your comment I just realised how true the previous comment was...

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 21:09 | 4519562 bluskyes
bluskyes's picture

Are you referring to Amerika, or Venezuela? Ever attempt to read the US Tax Code, let alone comprehend 5 pages of it?


Thu, 03/06/2014 - 21:34 | 4519655 TheReplacement
TheReplacement's picture

As a semi-autistic introvert I have to say he was just being ironic.

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 20:45 | 4519464 therover
therover's picture

Is like in the movie Commrads of Summer, where the Russian manager trades a bottle of vodka through the channels to end up with a batting cage.

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 20:47 | 4519472 SgtShaftoe
SgtShaftoe's picture

Sounds similar to 20s Wiemar Germany. Speculators were buying up all the valuable art, antiques, and assets then shipping them out of the country for enormous profit. Americans and British were coming in droves to enjoy a cheap vacation. The Germans became destitute. Then they blamed it on the Jews... you know the rest of the story.

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 20:52 | 4519494 Herd Redirectio...
Herd Redirection Committee's picture

City of London and Wall St are not synonymous with Britain and America, IMO.  Parasites letting the host take the blame.

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 21:03 | 4519533 pavman
pavman's picture

Except no one wants to vacation in Venezuela.  Or is it Argentina?  There's a difference?!  Dam you public school system....dam you to teachers are way overpaid for the service they provide hell!

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 21:02 | 4519535 Capt Tripps
Capt Tripps's picture

"And their willingness to use violence to protect them is roughly proportional to the profit margins involved."


An obvious yet important concept.

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 21:10 | 4519566 Quantum Nucleonics
Quantum Nucleonics's picture

The tricky part is not getting shot twice in the back of the head when you get caught smuggling the gasoline to Columbia.

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 21:11 | 4519570 IREN Colorado
IREN Colorado's picture


........or if you happen to be a FOO, you could ask Barack Hussein Obama for $500 million. You then spend part of it on tinkering with solar panels, then sell everything to a third party in China at a loss. You'd pocket $400 million or so of the new digital US currency and do nothing at all to earn it. You can repeat the scam if you promise to give half of it to the Democrat Party to help them get elected so you can get in on another one of these scams. 

Solyndra much?


always remember: FOO = freind of obama

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 21:21 | 4519608 Anonymouse
Anonymouse's picture

Or if you are Hillary Clinton, you can read the WSJ and trade cattle futures

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 23:15 | 4519945 Tim_
Tim_'s picture

Hillary's Bull Market

"So we guess it's also up to us to indelicately mention another of those flagrantly disturbing episodes in Mrs. Clinton's career: her quick profit of nearly $100,000 on a $1,000 stake in the futures markets."

"But 'good investment' does not begin to describe Mrs. Clinton's highly unusual return of almost 10,000% over 10 months in the futures markets."

A note on odds in the cattle futures market

"This paper investigates the odds of generating a 100-fold return in the cattle futures market."

"The tests are constructed to give the investor the benefit of the doubt whenever doubt exists. The most conservative finding is that the probability is one in approximately thirty-one trillion."

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 21:36 | 4519663 Carl Popper
Carl Popper's picture

Cocaine so pure that you could still smell the acetone in it was 10 bucks a gram retail in Maracaibo Venezuela.   It was a good thing I was a poor college student back then.  

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 22:42 | 4519849 Rusty Shorts
Rusty Shorts's picture

Cocaine, the forbidden fruit of Eden, the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. The serpent told Eve the truth in Genesis 3:4 "You will not certainly die," the serpent said to the woman.  - :5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

Fri, 03/07/2014 - 04:30 | 4520364 Tegrat
Tegrat's picture


Warning: Biblical Facts mixed with opinion and conjecture and interpretation based on Faith and life experience follows (similar to those who have Faith in Darwinianism and/or AGW)...

In repsonse to your choice of scripture quote....

People repeat these lies told to Eve and the entire luciferian religion is based on these two lies. However, it doesn't end well for lucifer (the morning star) or it's followers. Note that Eve is dead, proof of a lie, HOWEVER people are trying to little demigods.

I personally believe that this one is still allowed to run things here (aka TPTB) . The plan is bring us to the brink (create a problem on a Global Scale), only to be saved (provide a solution) by one claiming to be a/the savior.

There will be a new worldwide religion and government established. It will be wonderful for the most part (even libertarians will be all for it). The only problem will be - you follow it's rule(s) or die.

I don't expect the new leader to have pitchforks and horns, or to be a serpent to us. Au Contraire, it will be the most charming and wonderful creature you have ever seen with your own eyes. And did I say charming as well? Most everyone who is not Saved in the traditional sense will be fooled/deceived.

Most will want to imprison/kill the haters (non-followers) as it will be a utopia for those that stay in line with the one world religion and one world law. It will be a worldwide party for a short stint.

Not 100% sure of what the Mark is but if this but it will be some sort of forcing people to break the 7-day week starting the first year with a mandatory sun-day worship. TPTB would like you to believe it will be a chip. A mark in the forhead means you believe or think of Sunday as the "Lords Day" or you have a mark in your right hand, ie, you do/obey the sun-god's law of Sun-day worship.

Most everyone here has an idea of whats coming -- and largely for the same reason - absolute control of everyone alive, i.e.,  close but no cigar.

Anyways, just some ramblings created or Inspired from your choice of scripture. It's amazing, the multitudes who follow this line of thought, a large number of people and religions today who believe in a form of those concepts. Yet EVERY SINGLE person knows for a fact at least one is a lie (Eve surely is dead).




Fri, 03/07/2014 - 08:16 | 4520518 Rusty Shorts
Rusty Shorts's picture

I just find it ironic that bible thumpers seem to miss the part of the story when "God" lied to Eve, and the serpent told her the truth...

Fri, 03/07/2014 - 23:41 | 4524083 Tegrat
Tegrat's picture

Please do tell the scripture where God lies and the sperpent tells truth. Note that Eve is long dead.


Thu, 03/06/2014 - 21:48 | 4519704 whatthecurtains
whatthecurtains's picture

Noe how do you turn that $175,000 back into $1?   Bring it back to the USA where Uncle Sammy and clammy hands are waiting to get a hold of it

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 23:07 | 4519916 optimator
optimator's picture

Or you could have left Germany with a few hundred Marks and gone to America in 1919.  Turn and Marks into dollars and return to Germany ten or so years later and turn you dollars back to Marks!  I can't even estimate the return.

Fri, 03/07/2014 - 00:34 | 4520128 Stuck on Zero
Stuck on Zero's picture

I know how to turn $175,000 into $1B here in the U.S.  Start by bribing your local Congressman ...


Fri, 03/07/2014 - 01:23 | 4520192 Irene
Irene's picture

Just as the Soviet Union fell, we sent a desktop computer back with my cousin from the Baltics who came to visit us here in the good ol' USofA.  She sold it for 45,000 rubles (she had her buyer lined up before she left) and immediately used the proceeds to buy a farm, complete with a house and greenhouse.  Today, her setup is easily worth well over $600,000.

These opportunities exist if you know somebody and if you get lucky.  And yes, bribes needed to be paid along the way.

Fri, 03/07/2014 - 06:20 | 4520431 Ar-Pharazôn
Ar-Pharazôn's picture

and you really expect to be still alive after the second trip to the local black market dealer?

Fri, 03/07/2014 - 07:36 | 4520485 esum
esum's picture

Yeah, and be sure to wear a leather collar so your throat doesnt get slit....and a bulletproof vest, and factor in the large bribes you will have to pay to do any of the above and get out alive.....

Fri, 03/07/2014 - 13:47 | 4521807 dvfco
dvfco's picture

If it's anything like life in the Dominican Republic, when you local gas station runs out of petrol, you'll see literally dozens of guys up and down the main roads with gallon-sized containers of every imaginable shape - and they're all selling petrol at 5X the price you paid the day before, when the tanks were full.  They make a fortune until the station re-opens.  

I can picture dozens of people crossing the border in the middle of the jungle with 5-gallon drums of petrol/diesel and making enough to care for their families for month - unless and until they get caught and named 'adversaries of the revolution' or some other shit that makes the scum in charge look scary.

It's a sorry state of affairs.  However, I'll always take the society in which bribes are a way of life, instead of institutionalized criminality.  For example, in the D.R., a traffic ticket could be avoided for $10-$15 (500 pesos), probably less if you looked like you might only have 100 pesos.    In the US, I used to be able to get employees in the county clerk's office and town halls all over my area to actually do their job.  I'd leave $20s in their drawers and give them nice envelopes with cash every Christmas.  When I asked for a tax map or to find out if a judgment had been filed, I got an answer or documents waiting for me when I got their offices.  Now, I wait weeks for anything, nobody makes a little extra cash, and the Federal Government has cameras and microphones in half the offices in an effort to crack down on corruption.  

So, we have less corruption, but nothing getting done.  I think that's Obama's goal - stop everyone from working on anything productive, anywhere.

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