Thursday, March 8, 2012

Corruption in Paraguay immigration

We were fine exiting Brazilian border in Foz do Iguacu, but when we entered Ciudad del Este of Paraguay. The supposedly visa-free BN(O) passports, which were sent by courier with other things (the fuel bottle,foldable water tank and unnecessary clothes) in great cost, got problem in the immigration. The staff said the chops previously in the HKSAR passport should be in the new passports and thus claimed us to pay G530,000 (aboutHKD 1,000). Without Paraguay cash in that amount I had to rush to a nearby shopping mall to from ATM, leaving Maria behind. I should have given her the walkie-talkie. The bus driver could not wait anymore because the bus wassupposed to go to Asuncion (another five hour trip). He dropped our luggage next to the office and our outer tent was left on the bus (we later found that out). I paid the money but there was no receipt and there was no changefor the G600,000 I paid. Although I did not understand what the staff said, they said something in a playful way. These made me smell corruption and bribery. I got the chance that I took the money back as they just put thepile of note on the desk casually. They shouted something at me and seemed to likely cancel the chops they put on our BNO passport (that was strange, shouldn’t they chop on the HKSAR passport with all previous chops ?).With the bus and Maria behind, I could not argue with them anymore but to leave the money and take the passports back. Frustrated by such bureaucracy and corruption, we entered Ciudad del Este. If I had left the walkie-talkieto Maria, I would rather let the bus go, take the backpacks and stay in the simple office blocking operations for protest (until they gave up and let us in).

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