Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Time for Canadians to boycott Mexico

I've been watching this Brenda Martin situation with a mixture of confusion, outrage and sympathy for the 51 year old Canadian woman who has been stuck in a Mexican jail for two years, and is now on suicide watch. She has been denied rights that we take for granted in Canada such as a timely trial and not being locked up with convicted criminals while awaiting it (for over two years).

Martin has been charged but not convicted with 'money-laundering', according to Helena Guergis who was interviewed yesterday on MDL. The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and International Trade said that Canada doesn't have control over the legal process in a foreign country, although she assures us she is doing everything she can behind the scenes.

Of course, Dan McTeague is taking advantage of the situation to rip into the Government's seeming lack of action (Ivison - It's 'buyer beware going to Mexico):

Both Dan McTeague, the Liberal MP who performed the role of "point man" for Canadians in trouble abroad for the Paul Martin government, and NDP critic Paul Dewar are scathing about Ms. Guergis's performance--criticism that goes far beyond the usual partisan carping.

"This is a so-called Secretary of State who is given to condescending remarks and running away from cameras when she is asked to explain herself," Mr. McTeague said. "She didn't go to the prison when she was only 18 minutes away to see a woman who's been mistreated by a judicial system as random as the weather."

Ms. Guergis cannot be blamed for the Mexican justice system. In fact, the federal government states in large, bold letters on its Web site: "Under Mexican law, you are considered guilty until proven innocent."

But Canadians have a right to expect the government to go to the wall for them if there is a miscarriage of justice as blatant as in the Brenda Martin case.

"Is the government saying that when you go to Mexico 'buyer beware -- we can't help you there?' " asked Mr. Dewar. "I'm not sure I would book a flight to Mexico tomorrow."


Both Ivison and the Post editorial board (Try Brenda Martin or let her go) appear to be advocating for the Prime Minister to step in now.

I'm not going to take a stand on that one since I don't know all the diplomatic machinations that would surround such a move, but I do agree with the Post editorial on this point:


Ordinary Canadians can act, too, by boycotting Mexico as a tourist destination. Ms. Martin's mistreatment -- along with the suspicious deaths of six Canadians in Mexico in the past two years -- makes Mexico an unsafe place for tourists.


Support Brenda Martin by refusing to vacation in Mexico. It will become even more difficult to resist the 'great deal' of an all-inclusive dirt-cheap vacation if prices go down even further, but it's time to take a stand.

Whether innocent or guilty, she is a Canadian and as such deserves our support for justice.


* * * *

Update: Joe Warmington weighs in here:

...A court ruling yesterday that will ensure more time in that Guadalajara prison has her loved ones frantic. While CTV's Mike Duffy hinted last night more "muscle" might be coming from federal officials, officially the government of Canada indicated there really is very little it can do. "It's not appropriate to suggest a politician can influence a judge in another country," Helena Guergis, Canada's secretary of state for foreign affairs, said in an interview with Sun Media last night. "Believe me, if I could go down there and take her home I would..."

National Post - Ottawa sends diplomatic note over woman's imprisonment.


Wednesday Update: Peter MacKay on MDL - You cannot take your Charter rights with you when you leave Canada. The Mexican justice system won't tolerate political interference.


27 comments:

Mé said...

Boycott Mexico!

Anonymous said...

Its not just Mexico ...although that might help ...where is our fearless leader or leaders on this one ? I just read a article on Hufpost and reading the comments came across one that was quite interesting ...I will post a link and say that one PierrelLeClerke has made one heck of a statement ....I know that the royal proclamation of 1763 set in motion our 2 countries as we have them today ...they do both have their differences and similarities but given our neighbours circumstances with their elected officials could we face such a situation and could we the people have something to bring back law and order ...I only ask as I do have concerns with the bunch that occupy our legislature ...Katou http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/03/10/house-panel-sues-white-ho_n_90745.html

wilson said...

William Sampson, who had been held in a Saudi jail and tortured for 31 months, told the Liberal government ,repeatedly ,of the torture. The Libs kept saying they were working behind the scenes.
The Brits were instrumental in Sampsons release.
Add Arar, and I don't think we need lectures from the Liberals.

Steph said...

Wow, I'm glad that I went to Cuba instead of Mexico this year. Who would have thought that I'd feel safer in an-ultra-socialist country like Cuba than in Mexico. Well I'm more than happy to let the US have Mexico for their low-cost tourist destination of choice and we Canadians can vacation in the Americanless country of Cuba.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Maybe we should try boycotting Mexican imports too, like produce etc.

Anonymous said...

boycotting produce and other commodities wouldn't be a bad thing as well .if for only health reasons ..I guess these GMO crops and the different chemicals they are using are going to have effects on us sooner or later ..I think the Bee problem is associated with the insecticides they are using on the crops or that is what the best guesstimates are ...Katou

Jeff Davidson said...

but I do agree with the Post editorial

wow. there's a surprise.

Raphael Alexander said...

I feel very sorry for Brenda Martin. I think that it's probably true the government hasn't done enough. If they really wanted her back enough they could exert the kind of diplomatic pressure necessary. I suspect they may not have tried hard enough.

Kingston said...

Here is my problem, If any other country started to apply serious diplomatic pressure to our own to get a accused person back, we would be jumping up and down and peeing razor blades in anger.
Mexico has a justice system that works for them, or they would of changed it.
I to would love to see this woman on a plane tomorrow but when will Canadians come to understand, when you live or visit in a foreign country you fall under their laws and justice system. The same as foreign nations fall under ours.(except diplomatics).
What would you have the government do, invade, get real people, Should Harper phone their president and ask him for a personal favor. When that news was released would he then be accused of interfering in the Mexican Justice system.
The Govt has asked the Mexican to expedite this matter and there is not a heck of lot more they can do.
Think about it the next time your booking your vacation.

Raphael Alexander said...

Mexico has a justice system that works for them, or they would of changed it.

That may be so, but two years without trial is a fairly "Guantanamo-esque" time to wait. Has she even been charged?

What would you have the government do

Usually a simple withdrawal of the diplomat is a symbolic act which gets attention.

annie said...

I gotta agree with Kingston. The situation isn't right - at least according to the way we see it should - but it is *their* system and interference is interference. If you don't like it, don't go to Mexico. I don't. I've never liked their "justice" system where they can just arrest whomever whenever they like. This is not the first case of this we've seen over the years. I’ve traveled the world over, yet never go to Mexico.

Bottom line, when you travel to another country you have to be prepared to deal with their system, their way. Accept it or stay home. I don't expect Canadian justice anywhere but in Canada. Fair or not isn't the point. Maybe these stories will stop people from going to Mexico. Likely not. The cheapest vacation supersedes everything else.

Steph said...

I think the Bee problem is associated with the insecticides they are using on the crops

What bee problem Katou? I haven't heard anything about that.

Anonymous said...

its called colony collapses disorder .do a Google search. there is much to do about it .apparently some aspires are finding that they are loosing substantial amounts of their hives ...what seems to be completely healthy hives are just vanishing ...leaving full hives of honey and brude ...gone ...I guess there are a few insecticide culprits that a lot of people are using ...not just farmers but people doing the lawn thing you know trying to make the place look like picture perfect ...I don't use that approach ...I think trying to cultivate our own way is a mistake ....The bees need different pollen and some of the nectar they collect is just out of this world ....
they are not fond of GMO crops ...they chose it last over other crops and nature's resources ....yea its called colony colasps disorder ..katou

OMMAG said...

I cannot understand why anyone would be surprised what happens in Mexico.

The country is in a shambles by economic, civil and most practical measures.

I'll resist the temptation to write a screed about the corruption and incompetence that is at the root of cases like this where Brenda Martin is entangled and ask just one question.

What are the facts of the case against her?

Until someone can answer that there is NO point of flailing the air in consternation and pointing fingers at our officials.

As for the political posturing by the likes of McTeague .... what evidence does he offer to show that he has ever been able to do any more? I'll bet he didn't even know who Brenda Martin is until she was put on TV by CBC!

Steph said...

Thanks for explaining that to me Katou. I guess it's a bit off topic for this post but I found it interesting nonetheless. It's good to be aware of those things.

I agree with ommag, that it would be interesting to know exactly what the facts are against Brenda Martin. Joanne, since I depend on you as my sole source of news can you please tell me where I can find that information? Thanks.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Steph, as far as I can understand, she was a bystander in a money-laundering scheme, but whether or not she is actually guilty has not been established yet, since she has not had a trial to date.

If anyone cares to elaborate on that, please feel free!

SouthernOntarioan said...

From what I understand:

Brenda was employed by a man who was guilty of money-laundering. She was fired and given a compensation package that Mexican authorities claim was a way for his boss to launder money.

About traveling:

Traveling abroad is buyer-beware. Your government can't help you. Your sensibilities won't help you. Your status as a Canadian won't help you.

You follow the rules of the country you're in and if you are arrested, wrongfully or not, things can become very bad very quickly. Doesn't matter if you are in China, Mexico, Saudi Arabia or Thailand.

maryT said...

Why do people need the govt to issue a travel warning. Anyone who has not heard of the tourists killed, arrested, falling off of balconies must not read papers, troll the net or watch tv. They should make their own decision to stay home.
Thailand is another dangerous place for canadians.
Also, inspect bldgs before you buy.
My cousin recently retired to Mexico, where he has visted yearly for 17 yrs. He sold a beautiful condo in Calgary, and bought one in Mexico. The complex was beautiful, according to the net. But, when he got there he found out he was on the 3rd floor, and there are no elevators. Narrow staircases, and it was difficult to get their things into the apt.
They expected to get what they had in Canada.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Why do people need the govt to issue a travel warning. Anyone who has not heard of the tourists killed, arrested, falling off of balconies must not read papers, troll the net or watch tv. They should make their own decision to stay home.

The Nanny State mentality enables this kind of thinking, i.e. whatever I do the government must protect me. I am not responsible for my actions.

jad said...

Can we please calm down a bit here - boycott Mexico,why for goodness sake. There are thousands of Canadians who enjoy trouble-free holidays in Mexico. There are a few who get drunk and have accidents, but most Candaians don't ry to leap off balconies etc.

As far as Ms.Martin is concerned, yes I'm sorry she is in a mess but come on now. She worked for two years for some guy who had this huge internet scam, and when he fired her, she paid him back her severance to invest in the scam. Was she blind and deaf as well as completely dumb ???

I agree that you have an expectation for the Government to go to bat for you in normal circumstances, but if you get yourself in a stupid situation, why exactly does the Canadian Government and the Canadian taxpayer have to bail you out?

Mexico is a third world country, which tries very hard to make tourism a major source of income. This does not extend to people like Ms Martin who are employed there.

For all you boycotters, try turning this around. If a Mexican was imprisoned here for whatever reason, just how receptive would we be to interference by the Mexican Government to get him released. And don't just say, he wouldn't have been imprisoned for two years, that's not the point. Every country has its own judicial system, and you cannot expect them all to be as good or better than Canada. If you do, well just stay home.

Möbius said...

Maybe we should try boycotting Mexican imports too, like produce etc.

...except Tequila.....

Joanne (True Blue) said...

...except Tequila.....

And Corona, par favour!


Jad, thanks for injecting some common sense here. Your points are very well taken.

Steph said...

Yes, Jad makes several very valid points. Thanks also for providing more information. I hadn't realized that she was actually working there and not just on a one-week vacation.

Anonymous said...

As much as I'd like to support Ms. Martin, there are some things about this whole situation that bother me...
She chose to leave Canada and move out to Mexico permanently. You can't just leave here and expect to move to another country and yet have our rules, laws, and government protect you. Imagine if we allowed all the immigrants that come here to live by their country's rules. Canada would be in an absolute mess...
She wanted nice weather and a cheap place to live in - She chose Mexico and so in doing that, she should have recognized that she was now chosing to live by their rules, rights and laws....
I don't get how a "cook", who works privately for someone for six months, and only six months, then because she can't control her drinking gets fired and then is granted ONE WHOLE YEAR worth of severance pay! Sorry, something fishy about that!
Seems this lady has been all about the "easy ride" she thinks she's entitled to...
I believe there is more to this whole story and we're just getting the "feel sorry for me" version.
Where I come from (Canada) you do the crime, you do the time - No excuses, no 'ands' or 'buts'.
I thinks she's entitled to a fair trial, provided with interpreter and such, and then she's responsible for whatever sentence she's handed down. Just like if she were here...
As far as her friend who has been charged, convicted and sentenced, I think there's more to her involvment with him... Who do you know that can just hand over $25 grand to whoever, just because...
I Feel like I'm being taken for a ride with this "poor lady" show...
And so now, what? She should be brought back here just because her plan backfired and she's found herself in some trouble... This cry me a river stunt doesn't wash with me...
If she hadnn't been caught, she'd still be living high on the hog over in Mexico - Mark my words! The only reason Canada means anything to her is because she's in trouble - Other than that, she'd be snubbing her nose at us...
Load of BULL!

Joanne (True Blue) said...

The only reason Canada means anything to her is because she's in trouble - Other than that, she'd be snubbing her nose at us...

I hear you. But whether she's guilty or not, it's hard to watch her being denied due process. On the other hand, people need to understand that Canadian law does not apply when you leave the country.

Anonymous said...

You're absolutely right True Blue!
I'm not denying that for one minute, and being that I work in the "legal" realm, I'm all about due process...
I'm struggling in this case with supporting her outside of that, because it's not so cut and dried, and it brings up deeper issues for me with what I think are MORE important concerns regarding Mexico and problems that ACTUAL, "living here" Canadian citizens have had to contend with. And they WERE innocent, without any doubt - I don't believe that all of a sudden HER situation, her threats of suicide if the country doesn't step in, are deserving of Canadian interference, any quicker, or before these decent people receive assistance...
One of your bloggers said "Bottom line, when you travel to another country you have to be prepared to deal with their system, their way. Accept it or stay home" - Another said, "when you live or visit in a foreign country you fall under their laws and justice system. The same as foreign nations fall under ours"
Well, she chose to go there. To LIVE there. To me, in chosing what she did, she also chose their government, their laws and their way of life...Like it or not, that also includes their justice system!(Seems I can't post here unless I choose 'anonymous'- Sorry)

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Great comment, Anon. I've highlighted here at a new post.