I’ve recently added to my collection a brand new enemy here in Guatemala. The funny thing is that every single person that has turned out to be a real enemy here was the one who started it. I mean, sure, I consider my MIL to be an enemy and we fight quite often, but that is mutual. These other people . . . they’re just mad that I noticed they were doing something wrong and decided to make life hell.
The guy at Veridas was a good example. “Meg” was another. Apparently you’re supposed to just take what people dish out and ignore the wrongs being done if you want to live peacefully.
This latest debacle involves a rather tantrum-prone man who has threatened me with multiple lawsuits, including one for slander (which, as it turns out, isn’t even legal). He’s called me out publicly on his website, sent me scathingly irate emails, including one that simply said, “Your bipolar” (spelling his, not mine).
What caused this decision to destroy my reputation across Guatemala? Well, see, I did some work for him and he didn’t pay me. Wait, what? HE didn’t pay me and he’s angry about that? Yup.
Not only did he not pay me, he didn’t pay a lot of writers. In fact, only ONE person was partially paid, in all of my investigations. I have spoken to these people, we’ve all had similar experiences. In every case, he hired people to write, then came up with a number of excuses as to why payment was not forthcoming. One woman was told that he forgot to put the check in the envelope (she didn’t get an envelope anyway). I was told that his kids were sick, which is a perfectly legit reason, but that stretched into multiple excuses and finally there was a mass email saying that we were basically all stupid idiots for fighting over a few hundred dollars.
Here’s the thing. When someone does work like this, they’re doing it to support their family. When they do that work, they are taking time away from other work. Work that pays. It may be a few hundred bucks, but it’s a living. And not getting paid means scrambling to find the money elsewhere to pay bills and feed children.
This guy has basically intimidated everyone with his threats of legal action and unpleasantries. His bluster and threats have gone a little too far, however and there is now an angry mob of expats, including more than a few who never worked with him, ready to make sure he doesn’t pull a stunt like this again. Unfortunately, we discovered that this isn’t the first scam he’s been involved in and he has himself a bit of a reputation both here and in the US.
So, if you see a job listing for an online or offline news writing job in Guatemala, run far, far away. If you see anything to do with a Joshua Schmidt, run far, far away. It’s just not worth the hassle. I may have been stupid enough to fall for the scam, along with about a dozen other people, but that doesn’t mean he gets to keep making fools of everyone.