Canadian In Mexican Jail - Who Can Help?
It is a real problem when Canadian citizens get themselves in trouble in foreign lands. The laws are quite different and mostly you are guilty until you can prove yourself innocent. Negotiating the legal system in lands where bribes are the order of the day can be difficult and mostly our Charter of Rights means nothing.
Brenda Martin is such a case. She has been in jail in Guadalajara since February 17, 2006. Her crime was working as a cook for a man now serving a prison sentence in the U.S. for perpetuating a 60 million dollar Internet investment fraud. What disturbs me a little about this case is why didn't she get out while the getting was good, after all her boss managed to get himself to the U.S.? She was not arrested right away, she had time. She was also not a tourist, she was living there.
The Prime Minister of Canada has gotten involved in this case but even he admitted on national television that there's not a lot he can do. Mexico has it's own justice system and is it's own country. Predictably the opposition parties are screaming for blood and blame the Conservative government of not moving fast enough to get her out. Short of sending in the troops I'm not sure what else can be done. Boycotts maybe, travel restrictions, or maybe I'll stop buying Mexican tomatoes? Most Canadians seem to favour such boycotts.
But it's never going to happen...Canadians suffering through long cold and snowy winters just love their holidays in Mexico and will never give them up. A year ago a boycott was called for after the murder of a Toronto couple who where there for the daughters wedding. A killer has never been found but two Ontario women were accused by the Mexican government of being the killers. The Mexican government has made no real effort to find the real killer or clear their names.
Government not responding to Canadian citizens caught in other lands fast enough has been in the news before, most notably during the Lebanon crisis. When Canada did finally get them home they weren't particularly grateful if I recall and wrote about it at the time.
Travel is a tricky thing, we all want to visit foreign lands, we think we're immune to anything bad happening to us and when it does we are shocked that our government cant immediately come to our assistance. Should we really be that surprised? It can be a lot of fun out there in the world, but it can also be very very bad...