Theft and Fraud Endemic?

I came across a posting about Nicaragua, not here, which indicated theft and fraud were endemic in Nicaragua.  My first thought was that this was just not true however since it’s obviously someone’s viewpoint I gave it some thought.

It’s not hard to come across instances of petty fraud, traffic police who pull you over for an imaginary offence to solicit bribe to ‘go away’ being not uncommon.  Certainly there are reports of real estate/property problems but just about everyone knows to tread carefully since a fair amount of money is involved.

On the whole what we see are fairly small gringo/native transactions which we consider unethical and locals see as good for them.  Things like short changing by money changers and vendors or pricing considerably higher if gringo is buying.  For theft you hear mostly about opportunistic theft of something not kept secure on person.  Even burglary seems just to grab something small and disappear, usually by someone who has some knowledge of you and your possessions.  Nicaraguans don’t have much so they concentrate on those who do.  Not a good idea to keep an open house for just anyone to drop by for a drink and visit!

Yes the legal system like in most third world countries can be made to work to one party’s advantage with some grease skillfully applied.  That can work to a Gringo’s advantage since on the whole we have more money to slip into the right pocket.

It’s not however Endemic since on the whole the Nicaraguan people are both warm, friendly and willing to be helpful.  I’ve had a waitress leave her place unattended to chase my wife down the street to return a purse she left beneath a table and bet others have had similar experience.

Lets face it $20 means a lot more to a poor hungry individual than it means to most in North America so you have to be a bit more careful going about your business down here.  The locals are extremely careful with their money and possessions so perhaps we should follow their custom a bit better and avoid unpleasant experiences.  If you make it very easy to be taken advantage of then be assured someone will.

Fred Cressman