Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Brenda Martin found, uh, "guilty"

Disappointing, but not surprising:

"GUADALAJARA, Mexico - Canadian consular officials were meeting Tuesday with Canadian Brenda Martin, her lawyer and Mexican justice officials to work out her transfer back to Canada, after a Mexican court found her guilty of accepting funds from an Internet scam and sentenced her to five years in prison.

In a brief ruling issued Tuesday, Judge Luis Nunez Sandoval said Martin is guilty of a charge of accepting illicit funds. She was also fined 35,850 pesos - about $3,400 Cdn."

No surprise there. Not that I think she's guilty -- Brenda Martin is a victim of circumstances. Wrong place, wrong time. An semi-innocent bystander. Her boss was the apparent criminal, running an internet scam that made him millions. Whether she knew about it or not, Martin wasn't involved in it. She was a domestic employee, a cook, who happened to get splattered with some of the overspray when the shit hit the fan for her boss. (I suspect someone was leaning on Mexican lawmakers about this case for some reason, otherwise in Mexico money is usually a Get Out Of Jail Free card. Unlike here. Ha!!)

Mexico might be one of my favourite places in the whole wide world, but when it comes to their justice system you keep your head down and your profile low. All those Jimmy Buffet songs are right: interaction with the policia is a mistake that's best avoided entirely. Anyone can end up on the wrong side of the law in Mexico -- believe it or not, even me. In Mazatlan many years ago, a margarita-fueled lapse in judgment made me think it was a good idea to call the police about a fender-bender I'd been involved in. All I wanted to know was how to use my Mexican insurance to get the car fixed, but after a harrowing 8 hours of being held captive at a Mexican cop shop, I was lectured by friends: "No policia, no policia!"

No kidding.

Serendipitously, our chubby little PM has been in meetings with the Mexican president for the past couple of days, but apparently they have better things to talk about than Canadian citizens languishing in Mexican prisons. Colour me an even deeper shade of un-surprised! Odd that Martin's boss, the guilty party in all this, gets to do his time in North Carolina, yet we can't even bring Brenda Martin back to Canada.

Update: Ahhhhh, suddenly it all becomes clear...