Saturday, November 17, 2018

Western Union Hell

I got kicked off Western Union months ago. They said I was sending too much money to Peru, a known drug place, and said they needed some information before they could reinstate me, which would allow me to send monies again. Well, I answered their questionaire, then they sent me a second one, asking for a list of the people I send monies to in Peru, what their relationship is to me, how long I've known them and why I send them monies. I painstakingly went through that: There are maybe 15 people in Peru who get money from me for all sorts of things. One guy watches a property I own; someone else watches my little house in Iquitos. When I rent rooms there my cousin Monica gets money. My team all sometimes get advances, and then there are the pre-trip expenses for my Amazon Jaunts. Oh, and renting cabins on the riverboat, helping out friends who are broke. Lots of things.
    Then Western Union asked for my tax returns to show I actually paid taxes on my jungle trips. I showed them those too. Then they asked for my contracts with my employees in Peru, and for their birth certificates, and receipts for everything I spend on a given trip. Not happening. Instead, I wrote this long letter of explanation. No, it didn't work.

Dear Western Union: I'm going over the list of things you are asking for and it is really impossible to provide more than I have. I run a mall business called Gorman Amazon Jaunts. You can look it up at website and you will see that I have been going to Peru since 1984. I married a woman there, Gilma Aguilar, in 1994. We have three grown kids: Italo, Marco, and Madeleina. We mostly lived in New York, but did move to Peru in the late 1990s for a couple of years, during which we opened The Cold Beer Blues Bar and served good food, cold beer, and played lots of blues music on our sound system. 
   It was during that period--1998-99-2000--that I began taking people out to the jungle. It was pretty informal, as the jungle and its people are not as connected to certain things as we are. For instance, my wife has no birth certificate. Her mother always guessed at her own age and was only fairly certain when my wife was born. None of my jungle helpers have birth certificates that match their birth: When the parents make an occasional trip to the city of Iquitos, if they present the child they are given a certificate dated the day they presented the child. That might be weeks or months after the child was born. There are also no contracts with anyone: You ask someone to. work for you for a day or several days and promise to pay them a certain amount. If you don't pay what you promised, they don't work with you again. My team, many of them very young when I started taking people out to the jungle, have always worked that way with me.
   In a similar fashion, when Juan Ruber, my right-hand man down there, sends me an email of a list of things we need to send up the river, or work at the camp that has to be done, he does not send a contract: Just a list of things and an estimate of that they will cost. I do not get receipts for those things, but those things get bought and sent up river to camp in advance of the trips. 
  That is also true of purchases of jungle things (hammocks, blankets, mosquito nets, machetes, shotgun shells, petroleum lanterns ((no electricity in the jungle))), as well as dry goods, kitchen cleaning supplies, and fresh foods that we bring. We purchase in a market, Belen, and there just aren't receipts that matter: I'll get a torn bit of paper with an accounting of things that I bring to the cash register to pay for. That's all I get.
  The hotel I use in Iquitos before and after we go to the jungle is the Nativa Apartments. It is owned by my wife's cousin. It's quite well known. I pay her in advance for the rooms we'll need via Western Union. Again, no receipt because I never ask, having paid for the rooms often several weeks before I arrive in Iquitos. 
   As to the people I send money to via WU, I've provided a list of the people on my team and the time I've known them, and what they do for me. If they write and say they need $100 I just send it if I have it. It just means they didn't work for a few weeks and are broke, so they ask me for help. I pay them very well when we work, but we only work together for two weeks, four times a year, so they always wind up broke. 
  I believe I already showed you my tax returns that indicate that I pay taxes on my Amazon Jaunts. I really don't know what else I can give you. We are talking about Iquitos, the largest city in the world not accessible by a road. And we are talking about the jungle, where people live two, three, four days by boat from Iquitos and have no electricity, other than batteries for their radios they might buy in a river town like Genaro Herrera or Requena, or even Iquitos. 
   Now, as a precaution to having my trips totally halted by a malfunctioning ATM in Iquitos, which might (and has) eaten my cards, I have gotten in the habit of sending monies to Juan Ruber and myself (and on the last trip, my friend Devon) via WU. Those are normally in the $925-$950 range. That way, if the cards get eaten or hacked, I can still run the trips with the WU monies. One year, a couple of years ago, I even sent a few thousand to my wife's cousin Monica Araujo, who owns the Nativa Apartments, and when an ATM machine went belly up and ate my card, she was able to go to WU and get sufficient funds for me from what I'd sent her prior to the trip. Whatever funds are left over in WU when I return home are my profit (or, if the bank ate the card or the card got hacked, whatever money is left in that bank account is my profit).
   Everything I am saying here is truthful. This is a glorious part of the Third World, but it is still Third World in a lot of ways. Which is partly why it is glorious. But it is not the sort of place where you have contracts with people who you have known since they were three years old, or old friends working for you for two weeks four times a year. The receipts are the WU receipts that would be presented to the IRS if I got audited. That's my paper trail. 
   That is really the best I can do. I would love to be reinstated with WU because it is much easier getting monies to Peru via your company than it is sending to US ex-pat friends who live in Iquitos who have bank accounts and can take wire transfers but then have to find my darned team to dole out the funds. That is a royal pain in the neck. 
  I hope you accept this and give me reinstatement.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You left out maybe the most important thing:
a CLAIM stating you're not moving money for drugs;
because everything you wrote does'nt exclude that illegal activity,
and they cannpt been cheated by all that tales, of another time and space.