Don’t Bribe the Cops in Chile!

Carabinero in the Patio de los Naranjos of La Moneda, Santiago, Chile

A Carabinero in the Patio de los Naranjos of La Moneda, Santiago, Chile

Don’t try and bribe the Police in Chile!

Whatever you do in Chile make sure you don’t try and bride the local police called Carabineros. They are not at all like the stereotypical fat unshaven latino cop in some small dusty town that is out for a few extra dollars (or pesos). No, their immaculately kept green uniforms reflect their seriousness and incorruptibility where the locals say, and even the Carabineros I have come to know say, DON’T BRIDE THE CARABINEROS! In fact, carabineros may actually take pleasure in throwing you into jail for having insulted their honour and for comparing them to the other not-so-honest cops around the rest of the continent. Ok, you may get the odd one here and there but I have never heard of a single case in over a decade I have been here.

Don’t call them Pacos!
And whatever you do, don’t call the police Pacos to their face! Everyone else, Chilean or not, may use this form in private but that’s just it, it’s in private. They take it as a personal insult for some reason. I was told the reason why ages ago but have forgotten it.

Any readers here know why they’re called Pacos?
What has your experience been with the local Carabineros?

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4 Responses to “Don’t Bribe the Cops in Chile!”

  1. Nicolás October 14, 2010 at 2:48 pm #

    I think it’s because in the 80’s a popular brazilian singer called XUXA had a team of girl dancer called “Paquitas” who wore clothes similar to their police uniform….not sure though

    • woodward October 14, 2010 at 3:23 pm #

      Sounds like a funny reason.
      I did hear another version of why years ago though I can’t remember it.

      • Nicolas October 14, 2010 at 5:03 pm #

        Yeah… I think i was wrong, since they’ve been wearing that uniform long before XUXA came up…

        Since I’m a little bit obsessive :p …… i started a google research and came up with this…. hope it helps!

        ¿Por qué a los Carabineros les dicen “pacos”?


        • woodward October 14, 2010 at 6:28 pm #

          Great find Nicolas! (I made it a clickable link)
          5 possible explanations of why, each one plausible.

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