It’s a good old Mexican Stand OFF…
Guadalajara. Mexico’s city of churches. A wonder of colonial architecture and a must see for tourists. But for Canadian Brenda Martin, it’s a personal hell. She’s spent two years in jail here without ever having been convicted of a crime. There’s little evidence to suggest she’s guilty. Yet her pleas have been virtually ignored by Canadian officials.
W~FIVE negotiated with Mexican authorities and was able to obtain an exclusive on-camera interview in the prison where Brenda is being held.
Moving to Puerto Vallarta in 1999, Brenda says she was very happy hanging out at the beach, picking up odd jobs to survive. Then she got her perfect job offer, a chance to cook for a fabulously wealthy Canadian by the name of Alyn Waage.
Brenda Martin sits down the W~FIVE for an exclusive interview from the Mexican jail.
Originally from Edmonton, Waage told Brenda that he had an investment business and needed Brenda to cook for the staff. For 10 months life was simple. But drinking too much and a fast temper, eventually led Brenda to be fired. She says she was given a severance package of $26,000, the equivalent of one year’s pay.
Then opening her own catering business, life in paradise was still on track. That is, until she heard a rumor that Waage had been arrested and was accused of running one of the biggest Internet pyramid schemes in history. Using a company called TriWest Investments, he bilked clients in the United States and Canada for more than $60 million. Waage was arrested in Mexico, tried in the U.S. and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Brenda thought nothing more of it until she was taken in by a sting operation in February of 2006 and brought to the prison in Guadalajara. The Mexican authorities thought the money Brenda had been given as a severance package was in fact money she’d been given to launder. With only a smattering of Spanish, Brenda had difficulty understanding the charges against her.
During the next 22 months, Brenda reports she has been living in a three metre by four metre cell with 11 other women, some of whom are convicted murderers and drug dealers. This is in direct contravention of international human rights treaties to which both Canada and Mexico have agreed to.
Despite numerous pleas to Foreign Affairs by Brenda, friends like Debra Tieleman and family members, there has only been the minimum of contact with Canadian officials.
The only glimmer of hope was a sworn affidavit by Alyn Waage saying that Brenda had nothing to do with TriWest. But even though this evidence was admitted into a Mexican court it has had little or no impact, because according to Brenda, she has had a series of ineffective or incompetent lawyers.
Desperately in need of some solid legal advice, Brenda’s childhood friend, Tieleman, did some research and found the name of Guillermo Cruz Rico. Cruz is a high powered Mexican lawyer living in Canada. Visiting Brenda in Guadalajara, Cruz realized there was only one shot left to get Brenda out of prison. He filed a constitutional challenge called an Amparo.
The case was simple. Brenda’s rights to a timely trial and humane living conditions had been so violated that the charges should be dropped. In addition, without translators, Brenda never understood the case against her. The Amparo seemed to spark an interest in Canadian authorities. Out of the blue, the Canadian Consulate in Guadalajara called Brenda. But Brenda was outraged at the length of time they had taken to respond to her plight and told them so.
Surprisingly, a recent ally of Brenda’s is the Mexican Ambassador to Canada, Emilio Giococchea. Not only has he met with Tieleman, but he’s also visited Brenda in jail and intervened with Mexico’s Attorney General. Brenda feels this is more than Canadian officials have done for her.
W~FIVE wanted to ask the minister responsible for consular services, Helena Guergis, about Brenda’s case. But she repeatedly declined requests for an interview. So our producer tried to talk with her at a public appearance. Guergis did not want to talk prior to the announcement about a children’s sports program, so we tried to negotiate with her press secretary. But to no avail. The Minister didn’t speak with us and she didn’t even make her announcement.
Debra Tieleman, a childhood friend, sought help when she found out Brenda was imprisoned in a Mexican jail.
Guergis did rise in the House of Commons recently to insist she has been pressuring the Mexicans to act on Brenda’s behalf.
And just hours before our broadcast W~FIVE received a letter from the Minister. In it she states consular officials have been helping Brenda.
But when reached in jail, Brenda denied the claims made by Guergis that consular officials in Mexico had phoned her or visited her more than 75 times. Reacting to those claims, Brenda said, “I just can’t believe that…Helena Guergis has the gall to say what she’s said in that letter.”
Two years after her arrest, Brenda Martin remains in jail and still has not been convicted of any crime.
Thank you W~five
Baby Boomers…do you remember back in the 70’s when alot of now Baby Boomers were locked and Mexican jails and how bad they were??? I don’t think it has changed much!
I bet you still have to pay your way out of there.
NOT where I would want to be.
This article was sent to me via my dear friend, Marlena in Canada…hope it helps in some way! Preferably in a LARGE way…
~The Baby Boomer Queen~