La Paz Feature


Corruption in Bolivia

Like most developing countries, Bolivia has a serious corruption problem. Despite government efforts to take a hard line, the problem continues to run throughout society, from a traffic cop's request for "collaboration" to a government minister's filling up his offshore accounts with federal reserve. You may not notice anything if you are traveling light, but stay any length of time and you will have to deal with it.

You need to decide where you stand. Refuse to cooperate and pay nothing, and you will waste huge amounts of time wrestling with Bolivian bureaucracy—and you can never win against Bolivian bureaucracy. Dig into your pocket whenever you need to, and this will mean digging really deep once people realize you are ready to do this. You can take the middle ground—the average traffic policeman makes less than $200 a month, and your (Bs)1 "fine" for going the wrong way up a one-way street will help him put food on the table. It's your choice, but be aware of the impact either way.

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