Posted by: Sk | February 13, 2009

9 German school of Guayaquil: the absurd becomes grotesque

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www.eldoradouno.wordpress.com

www.eldoradodos.wordpress.com

www.eldoradotres.wordpress.com

www.eldoradocuatro.wordpress.com

It’s true that sometimes you accept even the most improper offers, just because you may need it as proof for something, or it becomes a challenge, or the evidence in example for a more general disastrous situation. Perhaps sometimes it’s just fun, some kind of proof for the universal blindness and unawareness. Thus it happened with the most hilarious contract I have ever signed in my life, whose brief story is worth the while sharing with whoever interested in those tricky turns of mind. I had just left France in 2004 and was working in Madrid as autonomous translator and English teacher for Berlitz. As usual very curious about the development of the human mind, I start exploring the internet world (which did actually not exist there where I was in Greece at those times), and make the most supernatural acquaintances you may imagine, which of course, will give birth to all sorts of stories. Thus appeared someone saying to come from Guayaquil, Ecuador, town whose name I had never heard in my life, thing which already fills me with surprise. This person, who accidentally has the same name than a general national fiscal of Ecuador, Catalina Yepez, (as I learned later), insists in me applying for the German School of Guayaquil (depending on the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs), which, seen the general distances I tend to take towards everything German, is not precisely of my liking. The other though insisting, I pretend to get rid of the constant questioning by writing a short and inconsistent e-mail to the school, thinking they will naturally reject my proposition. It happens though that the director had been teacher at the German school of Madrid, more or less at the same time than myself and was teaching even a class mate of mine in Ethology. It happened, too, that the German School was involved in some dirty legal affair concerning drugs and some other charges on behalf of vice director Carmen Nauman, and that the accidental resemblance of name may have attracted attention, as I’m informed  to my greatest surprise of all detail short after my arrival. Thus, after several phone calls, I’m said a contract will be sent to me. It’s true that I had lost somehow the general overview of international legal interactions other than my somewhat tribal Greek exchanges. When I receive the contract, though, I can’t but being surprised, somehow. In short, the contract (whose complete text is somewhere in www.eldoradouno.wordpress.com or www.eldoradodos.wordpress.com ) pretends to the following: a diplomatic Visa (12-III) may be the legal basis for a contract whose judicial responsibility is in Guayaquil itself. A bank account in Germany receives the payment, which though has to be sent to Spain as the obligatory insurance through contract has to be in Spain (country of legal residence).You see that and you suspect immediately that something is not going right. As I’m not very well informed or have forgotten quite a lot of my mother’s teaching and on top of that, things may have changed, I ask first, where I have to pay taxes. I’m answered by the director that as a German citizen I don’t have to pay taxes if I stay more than one year outside the country. Yes, but my country of residence is Spain. Spain (result of researches) does not ask taxes from income that is not generated in Spain. Good. But I’m said by lawyer Nuria Díaz (a class mate and lawyer for the Spanish governement) that international law obliges to the payment of taxes in at least one country. A little bit troubled in my considerations I send the contract to three people: the said Nuria Díaz, lawyer Cristopher Kasten, a cousin in Berlin, and the then vice director of the Deutsche Bank, Robert Korsanke, husband of my sister Ana in Frankfurt, politely asking whether there is not something weird about the contract and whether they’re common in Europe.

None of them sees anything strange about it and thus, still quite suspicious about the whole, I finish by signing it, after having assured a 2000 USD income for 20 hours a week lessons. (Thinking at least the money will come up for what seems to me an obvious … trap.)Finally, my careful investigations do result in the following: that type of visa can only be given in cases the company or organization or institution is sending a specialized craft to Ecuador, paying the one through means coming from abroad. Which explains the bank account in Germany in that case, though in no case if the one who is paying is in Ecuador itself. Which is not possible anyhow with that kind of visa. Even if it is true that a German who works abroad for more than one year does not pay taxes in Germany, (to avoid double taxes), it should at least pay taxes in the country where the person is working (international law). In this case, where the source of income is Ecuadorian, the person has to pay taxes in Ecuador (law saying that taxes are to be paid in the country being source of income, like Spain – I managed to get both tax regulations and laws of immigration through lawyer Patricia Iturralde in Guayaquil).Not only the bank account in Germany may be considered as tax evasion, the fact of then sending the money to Spain as ‘triangle’ to hide illegal activity: which is all a contractual … obligation (!)Becoming aware of the somewhat virtual legal situation I’m in, I claim to the director that at least my taxes be paid by the school to Ecuador, as this (I think) may assure at least a legal cover in case of problem, and I’m not going to take over charges which were assured to me as not existing by signing the contract. A few weeks later, I’m fired. Argument: I cause problems.

Worse: a two years contract is broken without even one months delay, from one day to the other, in the middle of holidays and 10 days before the expiring of visa. I decide to file a claim in Guayaquil, as the contract says. The contract is not registered in Ecuador, I discover, where on top of that contracts in foreign language (this one in German) have logically no validity at all. As Ecuadorian law considers compensation even in cases there is no contract (quite usual), by the witness of at least two people affirming the person having worked at that place, the claim is filed and the German school lawyer asked to provide a whole number of papers. The lawyer appears with a paper saying that the manager assures I hadn’t been working for the school at all. As my anger had been driven to cold limits by the fact that an e-mail denouncing violence on children inside of the school had been received with the statement: “I didn’t read your e-mail,” by the director, I manage to get a new visa through the same school by swearing I’m after leaving to Mexico and file three complaints: one to the SRI (tax ministry), one to Ministry of Education and one to the Superintendencia de Compañías (Company Registration Office) as I discover in my researches that not only the contract is not existing, but the private school itself is operating as organization without lucrative purpose since 1975 (which is to say, they don’t pay taxes).Quid pro quos arising from the misunderstanding of meaning of institutions and other (different in Spain) make me land even in the Presidency of the Superintendencia de Bancos (Bank registration office), where I’m sent by a lawyer who confuses this with the one of Compañías. In the meantime whole lots of strange things succeed themselves, to the point that I’m invited to visit military territory in Salinas (La Chocolatera) by someone related to the school surrounded by friends whose business is … the cocaine traffic (I’m informed after by lower channels).When finally I decide to talk to some manager (of an organization?) of the school in Hotel Oroverde, I’m confronted to three Swiss gorillas, whose obvious menacing attitude make me take the decision to leave for Cuenca. Which I do the same day, after having left the claim in the Superintendencia de Compañías. Bad luck. Trying to find some rest in Hotel Oroverde in Cuenca, I find in front a … Swiss manager who comes from exactly but exactly the same place than the gorillas, as I had managed to discover. Troubled by problems with VISA, as the account in Spain (Banesto) had been emptied of over 2000 Euro, I pay in cash and … am accused of having provided a not working Visa card for payment. After one month I land surprisingly in a medieval house in the middle of Cuenca, which is nothing but the local prison, and where I will have all chance to get information about the illegal activities of some people linked to the German school. I manage to get out after some family members (I refused to pay anything, as maintaining the payment as proof of guilt) having been convinced by German consul Eva Klinkicht of my crime and to pay 500 USD upon the supposed amount of debt or fraud, as they put it. Claims were ‘erased’ in the meantime. And protestation to the German Bundestag – Bundestagsauschuss – (section: complaints) staid without answer. Of course I rejected the German nationality a little after and blamed the German government with the responsibility of the whole.

Conclusion: bad contracts may become a nice excuse to get rid of unfortunate inheritances in the image of a passport … just on time!

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