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Old 21-09-2014, 19:55   #16
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Re: Crooks In Dominican Republic

Understand your feelings about a bunch of "thugs" boarding, searching, stand-over tactics and "excessive" demands. Probably normal behaviour in many countries these days - US, China, Japan, South Africa and Australia included as documented in other threads. The world has changed in past decades as result of drugs, terrorism and all the diverse criminality which is now current. DR must be in the middle of all that. Try not to take it personally I guess.


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Old 22-09-2014, 08:08   #17
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Re: Crooks In Dominican Republic

Well not to beat a dead horse

I paid entry fee , tourist fee ,and several other fees and was given a receipt for each
I was not given a receipt for the bribes or demands
A total of 4 people [one military and 3 civilians, boarding a 40' boat is excessive. Also they did nothing but the military gave us a departure paper.

If this has not happened to you or you have not sailed to the DR then you have no idea how this feels -I felt raped and helpless
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Old 22-09-2014, 09:29   #18
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Re: Crooks In Dominican Republic

I just got back on thursday from an 8 day humanitarian trip to Haiti. If you liked that treatment in the DR then you'll love Haiti. Although (with the exception of the "new" tourism entry fee payed by everyone) the customs and immigration officials were the only ones without their hands out.

There were three of us, and one gentleman had never traveled outside the US before. He got quite an education. I was unsuccessful in convincing him the guy with the shotgun wasn't a robber, merely a guard enforcing local custom. He didn't point it at us, just made sure we knew it was there. Americans always pay more, that's just how it is.

When I was younger and in east Africa I got roped into a near riot when a tout man charged me the going rate on a matatu. The rest of the passengers were upset I didn't pay more than they had. When I got back to my friend's house I told him the story and he explained it like this: "You're American. It makes little difference to you whether you pay $.50 or $1.00 for that ride. But to the driver on a quota you're worth two riders. That $.50 might be 5-10% of his day's pay."

We all have our scale of what we consider wealthy to be, and what we consider filthy rich to be. The orphanage I was working at in Haiti is considered very wealthy by local standards because it has its own well, gravity fed running water, flush toilets, and (now) occasional electricity and propane cooking. But I watched a grown man break down and cry from the shock of how all the kids live there. It's all in your perspective.

That's a long way to explain why I try not to get too upset over things like the mordida. It doesn't make it "right" from my cultural point of view, but then I'm the guest. You may have just paid that month's school tuition so that official's kids can learn. You just never know.

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Old 22-09-2014, 09:37   #19
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Re: Crooks In Dominican Republic

Those kinds of experiences come and go in 3rd world countries. It depends on whose in power and how the economy is doing, and probably how each individual country regards America. We have invaded many Latin American countries, some many times. I believe, if memory serves, that we covertly overthrew the Dominican Republics government in the sixties. I lived on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua many years ago during a time of social upheaval, and while in my town the police and soldiers and government agents treated me well, when I ventured away I was routinely held at gunpoint. But now I understand it is a paradise on earth for Americans. I expect one day it will be a hell hole for everyone again for awhile. That is why the US governments list of countries to avoid changes daily.
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Old 22-09-2014, 09:51   #20
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Re: Crooks In Dominican Republic

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I felt raped and helpless
Then you best stay in Florida and not travel the rest of the world. And keep out of the FL boatyards…

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Old 22-09-2014, 10:47   #21
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Re: Crooks In Dominican Republic

I'd also advise everyone to read what they can on countries before arrival if possible and I know it might not have been in this case. But I hear nothing that sounds out of the norm for DR. 4 guys boarding? Yes, excess. But you often see that in other places where all those involved come together.

I remember my first trips to Guatemala City. Thankfully I'd been educated in advance. In the airport, as soon as your baggage comes out, there will be kids grabbing it to take to your ride for you, in exchange for tips. It's not optional. They have it in their hands before you get there. Now, you better take off with them too or you might be wondering where your baggage went. But as another mentioned in Haiti, the little bit you tip there (I think I recall the standard as $0.50 per bag) means a lot to them and their families. And they are young kids working hard at their "profession." I did tip generously. I hope it helped put food on their family's table.

I'm sure to those who travel from those countries, our methods are strange. Fort Lauderdale ranks among the strangest. If you can't get immigration at the port, then you have to go to an airport facility, and each passenger must clear. But then for the boat, you have to go to Eller Drive near Port Everglades. Then you may get a cruising permit for a year so you don't have to keep going through the formal clearance. We're US residents with US flagged boats and it's still easier for us to clear into the Bahamas than to return to the US.
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Old 22-09-2014, 11:37   #22
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Re: Crooks In Dominican Republic

It will probably get worse before it gets better. Why? Because too many sailors are overly generous, giving 'tips' without regard for local economics - income/cost of living - and others who simply dismiss demands for payment as a 'cultural' thing. Apologists among us are not helping. At minimum, two things need to happen. First, the selfish attitude many cruisers harbor - I've spent a lot of money and time preparing for this, so I'm going regardless... - only helps to delay the day when this kind of corruption becomes a thing of the past. Second, cruisers like the OP need to tell others about their experiences so they can REMOVE SOME PLACES FROM THEIR ITINERARY!

I've been to the D.R. and my experience is a mirror image of the negative experiences others say they have had. When one of the boarders said "what about a little extra for me" I said no. He said, "...you are my friend" and extended his hand which I grasped in a handshake of good will. I've been scammed by a policeman, who was performing duty as an immigration officer in Nose Be Madagascar. It took two trips to the police department and a meeting with the head of immigration to get half of what I was entitled to back. I have other experiences and in every case have escaped paying demands for money because I refused.

If you insist on sailing to destinations where corruption is rife, be prepared to say no or for the sake of others don't go.
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Old 22-09-2014, 11:46   #23
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Re: Crooks In Dominican Republic

Just wanted to pipe in about the Suez Canal. I been through it maybe 60 times in my life. Nearly all the shouts for baksheesh and cigarettes are from guys with absolutely zero connection to what you are doing. Most of the "officials" trying to barge aboard your vessel are nobody at all. The handful that you actually do have to take care of, most have no reasonable claim to more than a carton of marlboros. Exceptions- Suez Canal Inspector, pilot, electrician, head line handler / boat crew. A yacht doesn't even get the electrician or the boats, generally. A local agent makes things go much more smoothly if he is any good at all. He is the only guy who deserves an actual cash tip.
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Old 22-09-2014, 11:47   #24
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Re: Crooks In Dominican Republic

Luperon is known for the mordida and might be the worst place in the DR. But lots of cruisers go there.
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Old 22-09-2014, 11:55   #25
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Re: crooks in Dominican Republic

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we had just the opposite experience -- we went into boca chica to wait out a blow and 4 guys came on board and did the most compete inspection we have had yet and they insisted that one of us go with them at all times -- were we intimadated? nope - a couple were obvious undercover as when they bent over to look under or around something the very large gun in the back of their pants became visable -- they were courtsy and kind to us - did we pay something extra - yes but is was not required and not asked for and was done well after they left and done through a 3rd party - we have done that before

so i guess our experience is just the opposite of yours --
We had pretty much the same experience years ago. In Samana four came on board, were courteous and looked everywhere. They asked if we had coke aboard, after some discussion and me offering them a warm coca cola, they laughed and managed to communicate that they meant Drogos. (drugs) In my naivete' I never paid them anything and they left without harassment after drinking their warm coke.
This is not to say the DR doesn't have a lot of crime.. it's everywhere and is a different world for sure...
No one came aboard at all in Luperon at that time...
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Old 22-09-2014, 12:23   #26
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Re: Crooks In Dominican Republic

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too many sailors are overly generous, giving 'tips' without regard for local economics - income/cost of living - and others who simply dismiss demands for payment as a 'cultural' thing. Apologists among us are not helping. At minimum, two things need to happen. First, the selfish attitude many cruisers harbor - I've spent a lot of money and time preparing for this, so I'm going regardless... - only helps to delay the day when this kind of corruption becomes a thing of the past.

If you insist on sailing to destinations where corruption is rife, be prepared to say no or for the sake of others don't go.
Sorry that you find it offensive, but I will continue to go and I will continue to tip small reasonable amounts. I'm not looking to change their culture nor save other cruisers from having to tip. It's an individual choice. I don't feel forced, but when I feel it's expected and not outrageous I'll do it. I may also tip more than you approve of in restaurants and to dock hands. I hope it helps the people receiving. Frankly, if it was an accepted practice and allowed, I'd tip immigration and customs agents in other places, but I do adhere generally to local cultures and expectations.

We each make our own choices. Boating for me is for our pleasure and I do what makes that most possible.

I respect if you feel my actions make things worse, but I'm not going to change and forego my recreation because I want to change local customs in other countries.
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Old 22-09-2014, 12:44   #27
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Re: Crooks In Dominican Republic

Corruption can only be stamped out if people have the guts to say NO. And then go report the matter to a higher authority.
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Old 22-09-2014, 13:28   #28
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Re: Crooks In Dominican Republic

Rancher44 - you may need to rethink being a cruiser. In the DR we were also boarded by 4 guys but they insisted on one of being with the two of them that did the inspection of the salon and the berths and we even provided flashlights so they could see better. We were boarded by the USA HomeLand Security in Hawks Channel and they went below by themselves while one stood in the cockpit with a hand on his gun to prevent us from going below.
In Panama we were boarded by 5 guys in Bocas.
We have had good guys check us in and bad guys. But if you feel "raped" after that small incident you may need to rethink the cruising life.

Oh! To the question of who we paid the extra fee to it was to an agent and we asked that it get distributed equally. We also did the same on departure but we wanted to leave right now and the agent had to find some guys to check us out and they all went out of their way to help us get going and to us it was well worth it.
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Old 22-09-2014, 13:58   #29
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Crooks In Dominican Republic

I've exported several aircraft to Central and South America.
Trust me, always pay for an agent, one that meets you as you arrive. With aircraft it's called "ground handling", Your agent will argue all fees, bribes or whatever and escort you through all the lines. I don't speak the language so I just smile and let my ground handler, handle everything. A whole lot less hassle and I think cheaper too, without an agent once the sense you don't know what your doing, they descend upon you like a pack of wolves.

I'm sure this is done for boats too, just not called ground handling?
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Old 22-09-2014, 14:09   #30
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Re: Crooks In Dominican Republic

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Corruption can only be stamped out if people have the guts to say NO. And then go report the matter to a higher authority.
I think we need to be careful what we call corruption. When I was in business if you ever talked kickbacks or anything else like that then I'd never deal with you. If a government official asked for a campaign contribution or some other type payoff the answer was emphatically no.

Now, I don't consider these persons holding out their hands for tips to be corruption on their part. If they hold you hostage or refuse to clear you unless you tip them then it's crossed the line. But I don't see that having been done. Their government has set them up in jobs where they are being paid x amount and the rest of their income is expected to come from tips. I think of it much like I think of waitresses in restaurants. In the US they get paid minimal amounts, as low as $2.13 per hour (21 states). Only six states require they be paid minimum wage. The others are somewhere in between. In countries like the DR, these employees are expected to earn partial pay from the government and the balance from the persons they are serving, the boaters. The alternative to that would be the government raising all the fees and giving them more pay. I'd prefer that personally but that's not the way they work. Corruption is when they "force" you to pay to get them to make some sort of exception for you or to let you do what you're legally entitled to do. Some choose not to tip. That is fine too.

Perhaps the government should repost their rules and say something like this. "Entry is $X and exit is $Y. Please remember to tip our agents for good service."
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