Argentine Roadblocks

There are several roadblocks in Entre Rios province, in Argentina, where you will be stopped and asked to show insurance. You may be asked to produce a fire extinguisher, sheet to cover your body in an accident, and whatever else they think of that day.

Everyone is stopped and asked to show insurance, bikers, people in autos, everyone. It's like the DUI and seatbelt checkpoints in the US. Most Argentines, including bikers, carry insurance. But the Argentine bikers are not stopped and told they need fire extinguishers, etc. This is what you avoid traveling with them.

You do not need a fire extinguisher or sheet to ride a motorcycle in Argentina. And there is no fine for not having one, and the police are not allowed to collect fines anyway.

This is a common part of life in Argentina and Uruguay. I have seen an old toothless police officer stand in the middle of the road and hassle drivers for spare change in the middle of Nequen province, likewise last time I was there a big scandal ensued with two Uruguayan cops solicited bribes from an Argentine judge on his way to Punte Del Este. Foreigners in nice cars repeatedly get hit up for money in Buenos Aires.

Having gone through the routine several times with them, my best advice is to try and go when the road is not full of tourists heading north or south. They do prey on the locals and know someone heading back to BA on a Sunday is far more likely to pay them to be done with it and get back to work than to argue for hours. Likewise late Friday is usually a good time for them to hold up people heading north for the weekend.

If you can, travel with an Argentine motorcyclist or group. The police don't even try to hit them up for bribes. Act like you do not understand a word they are saying, even if they start telling you dollar amounts in English.

Always ask to see the radar gun or picture that was proof of whatever driving infringement you allegedly committed.

Learn the word used in the Southern Cone for bribes to police, and use it when they hit you up for money. They will usually become very apologetic and explain that there really is a rule, and let you go.

Try not to get pissed off with them, if you can joke about the bribe they are hitting you up for, the fire extinguisher you don't have, etc, they are much more likely to let you go quickly than if you get your panties in a twist and start calling them names or quoting the law to them.

Some geniuses on one of the bulletin boards created a form, allegedly from one of the embassies or some Argentine governmental agency, that you are supposed to fill out while being hit up for money, and the sight of this form is supposed to intimidate the Police into letting you go.

It doesn't work anymore.

They know the Form is not real.

It didn't take the police long to figure out the form is not real. I was told by one of the police officers manning a checkpoint that it isn't real and that it is a crime to imply it is an official government document.

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