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Old 04-06-2014, 13:06   #16
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Re: Shared responsibility in Belize?

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Yep, have a buddy who now has a felony (FELONY!) conviction because they drifted into a restricted area with fishing gear aboard in FL...it was stowed, they were not even actively fishing.
I don't doubt this at all, but do you mind being a little more specific about what happened. I don't need a felony conviction myself and a little knowledge may help.
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Old 04-06-2014, 13:49   #17
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Re: Shared Responsibility in Belize?

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Reminds me a a friend who was in a car wreck south of Ensenada, MX and woke up in jail. She managed to get them to take a check (last time they will do that), beat it for the border, and blocked the check first thing.
To offer the flip side on corruption in other countries sucks a few years back I was a ways south of Ensenada, MX camping and surfing at an awesome beach. At some point one night a gringo kid came up saying his buddy had gone off for beer hours earlier and not returned. We set off in search of him and eventually found him in a pickup with a police escort. Turned out he'd had an accident, was driving without insurance and a license and was basically up the shitter. He was let free and his car impounded (still drive-able, most of the damage was to a local man's car) while they figured out a resolution. Next day he got to pay for the repair (a few hundred bucks) and was let off all potential charges.

I've got a vague memory of him feeling he was over charged for the repair but honestly he'd have been in way bigger trouble north of the border.
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Old 04-06-2014, 13:51   #18
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Re: Shared responsibility in Belize?

I understand completely and agree a LITTLE payola is no problem.
I ran into a little problem in Mexico, and gladly paid the police to help out.
$100,000 is not what I call a 'little' or a 'tip', that is extortion.

Sure the US government is bad, but it is all 'above board' bad, a matter
of public record, the $billions for banks, the $billions for weapons, etc.


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The typical front line official in Belize could careless about word getting out, other than it might interfer with their payola, they mostly resent foreigners being here anyway. Some folks further up the food chain are concerned about bad PR.

Corruption is the grease that makes the wheels turn in Belize (and in all fairness, many other countries too). Without it the country would grind to a halt because it would elimimate the motivation for many officials to do anything. Getting anything done without an official getting a little "tip" is very unusual (especially for foreigners). This may not seem "right" by USA standards, but its how the system works...and it most definately does not work without it. Often, for folks who've been here a while, this is an amicable arrangement, not a threatening situation. You make a buddy (ally) over in Customs and when you show up to claim your imported goods, he valuates them low in consideration for his "tip". Everyone walks away happy.

I suspect this is how this current situation will ultimately get resolved...although I don't suspect they will walk away happy, but walk away they will because no one profits from them going to jail (at least not for long).

These folks are not in any real physical danger, but it is going to be unpleasant, inconvenient, and expensive.
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Old 04-06-2014, 15:06   #19
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Re: Shared Responsibility in Belize?

"La Mordida" (the bite) is an interesting concept. In theory, why should the "innocents" pay the salary of government enforcement officials? Shouldn't the "guilty" pay their wages?

Or in the case of most cruisers, shouldn't they who are using the services of the customs office pay the wages instead of the locals who never clear-in or out of their country on $50k+ boats? The feeling is that the fees on the books that are paid are for the government and the "tip" is to supplement the wages of the workers. Much like a 20% tip is expected in the USA to supplement the low wages of the wait-staff.

On a philosophical level it makes sense, however, whenever there's a discrepancy between who's truly guilty or not it makes for a bad situation.

It's also a bad situation when you have rogue officials requesting la mordida from anyone they come across because they need some immediate $.

I'm not suggesting I support la mordida, however, it's just a different system to what we have in the western world and I find it an interesting concept. The bottom line being, it sounds good in theory, but in practice not so much...

I read the whole blog post by these folks and hope they get a speedy and satisfactory resolution. But I suspect they will need to come up with a few more thousand dollars in the end.

Btw, isn't it ironic that they are supposedly being fined for damage to the Belizean reef which is what lures so many tourists each year, yet this single news-story will deter more visitors than the loss of a huge percentage of their reef would?
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Old 04-06-2014, 15:45   #20
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Re: Shared responsibility in Belize?

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I don't doubt this at all, but do you mind being a little more specific about what happened. I don't need a felony conviction myself and a little knowledge may help.
I was not there when it happened so I dont know all the details, but will ask for more.

Will confirm, but as I recall they were fishing/spearfishing just outside the boundaries (Pennekamp I think?). Stopped to take a break, just drifting with gear stowed, and drifted over the boundary and all hell broke loose almost immediately.

I was so stunned when he told me it was a felony conviction that I didn't think to ask for details, but will.
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Old 04-06-2014, 15:53   #21
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Re: Shared responsibility in Belize?

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I understand completely and agree a LITTLE payola is no problem.
I ran into a little problem in Mexico, and gladly paid the police to help out.
$100,000 is not what I call a 'little' or a 'tip', that is extortion.
...
Well yes, that goes way beyond the typical "fee for service", but I expect they will resolve it for way less than that.
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Old 04-06-2014, 15:59   #22
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Re: Shared Responsibility in Belize?

I was curious to see if there was an update today and see that the main complaint page (www. boycott belize. com) now returns a 404 error.

Hmm... /ponder...
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Old 04-06-2014, 16:18   #23
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Re: Shared Responsibility in Belize?

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Btw, isn't it ironic that they are supposedly being fined for damage to the Belizean reef which is what lures so many tourists each year, yet this single news-story will deter more visitors than the loss of a huge percentage of their reef would?
What the hell are you talking about? If this news story keeps stupid gringo's off the reefs, that would be a good thing., The locals running tour operations don't run into reefs and that is where the money is for Belize, not a bunch of sailboats.
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Old 04-06-2014, 16:26   #24
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Re: Shared Responsibility in Belize?

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What the hell are you talking about? If this news story keeps stupid gringo's off the reefs, that would be a good thing., The locals running tour operations don't run into reefs and that is where the money is for Belize, not a bunch of sailboats.
You're right Guy. Boating tourists going to/through Belize don't bring any money. The only money being brought into the country is via the Moorings and the other charter companies ~
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Old 04-06-2014, 16:57   #25
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Re: Shared Responsibility in Belize?

Just because someone is talking about a hundred thousand dollar fine doesn't mean that's going anywhere. That's part of the game. A few hundred bucks in the right places make these kinds of things go away.

The problem is that most Americans don't know how to do it, and they try to act like they're back home in Boise and can just call up the newspaper and the ACLU.
You're not in Kansas anymore Toto.

Best thing is to NOT make a big stink, NOT call your congressman, NOT go online and insult people, but to just quietly find out what it will take to fix it, and do it.
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Old 04-06-2014, 17:35   #26
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Re: Shared Responsibility in Belize?

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What the hell are you talking about? If this news story keeps stupid gringo's off the reefs, that would be a good thing., The locals running tour operations don't run into reefs and that is where the money is for Belize, not a bunch of sailboats.
Charter operarions do in fact bring significant $s into Belize:

1. Air Travel/Departure Taxes. Guests have to come and go and that generates revenue and employment

2. Transfer/Taxi services. Gotta to to the charter base.

3. Charter companies pay taxes (yes they do, including Moorings, I know first hand)

4. Provisions.

5. Fuel

6. Tours. Guests often want to mix in some land based activities so not uncommon to book a tour of some type during/before/after their charter or sometimes all the above.

7. Hotels. Many guests spend some days ashore before or after a charter.

8. Resturants/Bars. Guests often want to go ashore at least some for drinks/dinner.

....
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Old 04-06-2014, 17:42   #27
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Re: Shared Responsibility in Belize?

I don't think anyone was suggesting chartering doesn't have a significant economic impact.

The point was that individuals on their own boats also contribute a significant amount of moolah.
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Old 04-06-2014, 17:45   #28
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Re: Shared Responsibility in Belize?

Got an email from someone considering a charter in Belize and concerned about this incident. Thought I would share my reply here:

----- email response ------

I was just discussing this on line. This is not the first time charter guests, or other evil foreigners, have put a boat on the reef and created a big flap. Its always a big flap when foreigners do it...very quiet when Belizeans do. My guess is that it will fizzle out and be nothing more than that in a few months. This has been the typical pattern.

However, when these events happen it always raises the discussion again of requiring a Belizean captain/guide aboard all charters. There is some merit to this idea. I usually recommend guests have a local captain/guide aboard because of the complexity of Belizean waters anyway. This event provides another reason: the authorities can't legitimately bring that argument up and, if the authorities see a local captain aboard, then nothing will likely come of the event anyway. Also much less likely to happen in the first place with local knowledge aboard.

I suggest letting this blow over and see where the dust settles and, regardless, strongly consider a local captain/guide aboard.
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Old 04-06-2014, 17:49   #29
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Re: Shared Responsibility in Belize?

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I don't think anyone was suggesting chartering doesn't have a significant economic impact.

The point was that individuals on their own boats also contribute a significant amount of moolah.
Not nearly as much as vacation charters though. Cruisers are much more self sufficient and many tend to be...errr..."frugal". ;-)
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Old 04-06-2014, 18:20   #30
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Re: Shared Responsibility in Belize?

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Not nearly as much as vacation charters though. Cruisers are much more self sufficient and many tend to be...errr..."frugal". ;-)
...lol and fair enough!
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