Monday, March 10, 2008

Another Reason to Avoid Puerto Vallarta

Every now and then, amid the Starbucks and the Hooters and the high-speed internet, and the general fear that Mexico is losing some of its charm, the country goes and does something that says, "Hey, don't worry, we're still a banana republic."

A Canadian woman jailed in Mexico for two years without trial has been placed on suicide watch by prison authorities.

Supporters of Brenda Martin say they have been informed by Canadian consular officials in Guadalajara that the mental state of the former Trenton, Ont., native has seriously deteriorated in the past week.

Martin, 51, weighs just 90 lbs. and is clearly suicidal, according to a former Toronto psychotherapist who visited her earlier this week ...

Martin was a chef in Puerto Vallarta for former Edmontonian Alyn Waage for 10 months in 2001. Waage told people he was a successful investor but was actually operating what is believed to be the largest Internet-based fraud in history. He is now serving a 10-year sentence in an American prison.

On Feb. 17, 2006, five years after Waage was arrested, Martin was grabbed off the street in Puerto Vallarta by Mexican police and imprisoned. She was charged with money laundering and being part of a criminal conspiracy...

Martin was not provided with a proper translator during the police investigation or the court proceedings. She is also housed in a cell with 11 other women, including a convicted murderer...

It's not too hard to see why she might feel suicidal. I get that way when I'm stuck in traffic. But there was one thing in particular that was pushing her over the edge:
Martin is despondent and cries uncontrollably. Martin's precarious mental state has worsened because she is terrified the Mexican courts will again renege on a promise to provide a decision on her legal case later this [i.e, last] week

Not to worry. The muchachos are on the case!
Under pressure from the Canadian government, the Mexican authorities promised a decision on the legal challenge would be issued no later than March 7, which is Friday.

Hey, they promised! A promise from the Mexican bureaucracy: you can take that to the bank!

Um...just not on March 7.
But, as it turned out, Mexico's courts were closed on Friday for a holiday.

To their credit, the authorities did keep their promise to put her on 24-hour suicide watch.


Anonymous said...

She should get our mutual friend, who has gone through the system, to help her.


Burro Hall said...

She'd just tell her to enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

What holiday? I've been searching Mexican government and Jalisco state government websites and can find no notice of a holiday March 7. If you can get to the bottom of this, you might have a scoop.

On another note, have you heard what happened in Q. while you were gone? It's no place to be an emo..

Burro Hall said...

I wondered that myself. BUtexperience shows that, just because you've never heard of a holiday and can't find any written information about it, that's no reason to assume that there won't be a three-day weekend with fireworks and church bells before sunrise.

I've been checking my dictionary trying to figure out what an emo is. It occurs to me that it's not a language problem, I just don't understand teenagers.

Anonymous said...

The dictionary? Try the internet. What is an emo, anyway?.

Burro Hall said...

That helps not a bit. The only band I recognized was Fugazi, which is described as "not really emo."

And they all need haircuts! (If I'm going to morph into my own grandfather, I may as well go all the way...)

Anonymous said...



Mex Files said...

Don't depend on Canada Post as the primary source (it makes Fox News look "fair and balanced"). This woman was a bookkeeper and accountant in previous Canadian reports, back when they could flog stories about other Mexican atrocities against Canadians (that never panned out).

Maybe this woman is innocent, but she'd sit in a Swiss or French or German prison charged with the same offense. You can't make bail when you are likely to flee the country.

Burro Hall said...

Oh, sure, I assume the Canucks are being hysterical, but even factoring that in, two years without trial is kind of outrageous. Happens to Mexicans all the time, of course, but as an accident-prone gringo who for some reason finds himself embroiled in misunderstandings more often than most people, I have an interest in seeing the lady's situation resolved in an immediate, precedent-setting way.