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Viewing the news through a prism

Sometimes one writes a story that proves to be a lightning rod for people’s emotions. That is the case with an article I wrote this week about a young U.S. Marine veteran from the Miami area who is in jail in Matamoros, facing up to more than a decade in prison.

The Marine brought an old hunting shotgun into the country after being informed by a Customs and Border Protection agent that he had completed the necessary paperwork. Click here to read the story.

Reaction from fellow Marines has been swift and angry. Here’s one email from a former comrade-in-arms of the man I wrote about, Jon Hammar:

This sank my heart into my stomach. If it weren't for Hammar I wouldn't be alive. We served together in Iraq and he was the one who told me about Pathway Home. I’ve known him for over 8 yrs now and I want to get him back. What do I have to do?! Cause we are pretty close to doing something non diplomatic. ...


Another person posted on our website:

Thank you for bringing this situation to the attention of the American public. People should be outraged that Mexican officials can get away with treating America citizens in this manner. No one should travel to Mexico for any reason (nor support the country with tourist dollars) because anyone could easily find themself in a similar situation.


But the reaction was very different in Mexico. Televisa, the television conglomerate, translated my article, and some readers were not sympathetic to the U.S. Marine. Here’s one typical comment:

It's true, he must pay for this crime and not go weeping to be rescued using corruption and influence peddling in our deplorable ‘justice’ system run by those responsible for over 15,000 deaths under Calderon. They sold weapons to corrupt politicians like Felipe Calderon and his entourage of murderers. Just as a Mexican is sent to prison by merely stepping on US soil, it’s also a crime to bring guns to Mexico without permission. They always believe they are so enlightened and cry about anything while Mexicans die and endure all sorts of wrongful convictions on U.S. territory. Don’t be a cry baby and face your sentence like any offender must. Do not break Mexican law. Set an example for others.



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The above reads that he HAD finished the necessary paperwork ... and this IS typical ... for us ex pats whose immigration laws just changed and were implemented Nov. 8th. Some Mexican embassies were still unaware that the laws HAD been changed by their own government.

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This blog is written by Tim Johnson, the Mexico bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers.

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