Nieuws - 10 augustus 2017

Blog: Dubious efficiency test

Leonardo Medina Santa Cruz

Blogger Leonardo describes and compares two storylines.

You are in the Wageningen city hall. You know the building well: almost everything you’ve ever wanted from the Dutch government can be managed right there.

An exceedingly nice lady greets you with a ‘goede morgen’. ‘Good morning’, you answer as she smiles, ‘I need to prove I’m not a criminal’.

But it is not that easy. Within the Dutch obsession with social order, nothing is.

In order to get a certificate of good conduct, you need proof of somebody asking for it. So one needs proof of needing to prove his innocence. You are unable to provide this, of course, as the only reason you need the document is to get a residence permit during your internship in Costa Rica.

But don’t you worry: the obsession is flexible. You guide the nice lady to a Costa Rican government website. She opens a pdf document with the requirements to get a temporal permit written in Spanish. She uses Google Translate to confirm the need of a certificate.

‘That’s good enough’, she says. ‘You’ll get your document through the mail in 2 to 4 weeks.’

‘Oh’, is like she almost forgot. ‘That’ll be 43 euros.’ She’s still smiling.

You’re not a criminal, and you can now prove it in at least two countries. You are just confused.

You are in Torreon. An enormous one-million city by Dutch standards, but a medium-sized one in Mexico.

Having lived in two countries, you also need the certificate as issued by your home government. But, apparently, the process to get it is slightly different.

You start by paying at the government module in Soriana, the Mexican Walmart. That will be 65 pesos, or 3 euros. You then go to the Security State Commission building, where everything related to crime prevention is resolved. There are no bike lanes in Torreon. You drive.

Right there, just a few meters from the local jail, the only proof you need is that you paid and that you are yourself. An outwardly mad lady tends your request. You can see she hates her job. And who wouldn’t? With such low wages, one can barely call them that.

The whole thing goes remarkably fast: you’ll get the certificate the next day. But you’ll have to pick it up yourself, obviously. Almost no person or institution actually uses the post office anymore.

You’re not a criminal, and you can now prove it in at least two countries. You are just confused.

Which process do you favour?