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An insult to all Americans?

19 December 2012

I don’t see Fox News, of course (if I want a fix of crappy propaganda, Televisa fits the bill quite nicely, thank you), but I ran across mention of this piece on Corporal Hammar earlier this evening, and the only thing I can say is it’s an insult to the intelligence of all Americans.

From everything I can gather, Mr. Hammar has suffered, and does suffer from his war related injuries (specifically Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).  The last place he needs to be is in a Mexican prison (the last place any human being needs to be, for that matter), and I do support the efforts to get him a release on humanitarian grounds.  And, again urge people to make donations and support Silver Star Families of America, which is working to bring more attention to the illness, and to lobby for more treatment and research.

PTSD is “inconvenient” for the government to acknowledge — the cost of doing business (in a manner of speaking).  In this, it is  like AIDS was several years ago, another politically inconvenient, and best ignored public health problem.  As with the family and friends and victims of AIDS, Silver Stars Families — the families, and friends and victims of PTSD are having to go around the bureacracy, finding their own ways to provide treatment and support, while simultaneously calling out the state to acknowledge it’s own responsibility and need for response.  And, given recent events (or the last six years here in Mexico), there’s no way to say it’s solely a veterans issue, and even us “lefty” types should praise the Silver Star Families (and send them a few bucks if we can).

Hammr is a victim, and should not be victimized twice, for cheap political posturing.  O’Reilly’s “threat” presumes there was something illegal about Mexico’s enforcement of its own laws.  I’m dubious about claims that Hammar and his traveling buddy received permission from U.S. Customs to take the gun in question into Mexico.  First off, I have crossed that border any number of times, and have never heard of anyone (and never have) stopped at U.S. Customs LEAVING the United States.  That makes no sense.  If, as some have claimed, Hammar talked to Customs with a view to returning to the United States with his antique shotgun, then I have to ask why no one in the media (including Bill O’Reilly) has spoken to the Customs Service, or to the Custom’s Officer (if such a person exists)?

O’Reilly mentions that the purpose of bringing the gun was to go hunting in Costa Rica.  Really?  Hunting is illegal in Costa Rica, and while I’m not an expert on these things, I don’t think Hammar’s shotgun would have been legal in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua or Honduras (all on the way to Costa Rica) either.

O’Reilly all but demands the President, Enrique Peña Nieto, simply release Hammar, claiming Peña Nieto has the power to do so.  I’m told Mr. O’Reilly has a law degree (and from Harvard, no less), but he didn’t bother to read Mexican legal documents… like the Constitution.  Yes, the President can pardon a CONVICTED criminal… but Hammar is only in custody awaiting trial, not convicted of anything.

Finally, in threatening the Republic with a “boycott” if Hammar is not released, why should the President even listen to him?  Bad enough the U.S. government does next to nothing to control the gun-runners (and, according to some on the right, supports them), but to try to blackmail the Mexican President into overlooking his country’s own laws against gun running, to avoid potential economic harm may play well with O’Reilly’s viewers, but is counterproductive.

Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen complains that the jail where Hammar is being held is unsafe and overcrowded.  When has she ever shown a lick of concern about jail overcrowding, or about human rights in Mexico?  She was a major cheerleader for “Plan Merida” and never said “boo” as far as I can tell about the lack of human rights support given by that U.S. sop to the Calderón Administration.

I’ll give her partial credit for claiming not wanting to undermine diplomatic and other efforts to get Hammar released, but I am very afraid her willingness to support know-nothings and spinsters like O’Reilly, is not in Hammar’s, nor Mexico’s, nor the United State’s best interests.  From the Congresswoman’s own website:

6 Comments leave one →
  1. 19 December 2012 8:32 am

    These xenophobic outbursts by O’Reilly and Ros Lehtinen are just a continuation of the ill will that has undermined better relations between our two countries since the Texas revolt!!

    • 19 December 2012 12:15 pm

      I think the English-speaking and Spanish-speaking countries have never gotten over Henry VIII’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon, so this is nothing really new. But it’s people like Hammar who are hurt by it.

  2. 21 December 2012 11:24 pm

    A former U.S. Marine jailed in a notoriously violent part of northern Mexico was released on Friday…

    The decision to release Hammar was announced in a press release on Friday morning from the office of Florida Senator Bill Nelson, who said he got the news from the Mexican Embassy in Washington.

    Olivia Hammar said her husband, Jon Hammar Sr., had flown down to south Texas from Miami to pick up his son at or near the prison.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/22/us-usa-mexico-prisoner-idUSBRE8BL02W20121222

  3. 22 December 2012 12:06 am

    This USA Today (AP) article provides a surprisingly decent description of Mexico’s gun laws. Better reporting this time around, I guess.

    Civilian gun ownership is illegal under Mexican law unless the owner purchases the weapon from a special shop run by the country’s Department of Defense.

    “The Department of State warns all U.S. citizens against taking any type of firearm or ammunition into Mexico,” the U.S. Embassy in Mexico writes on its website. “Entering Mexico with a firearm, certain types of knives, or even a single round of ammunition is illegal, even if the weapon or ammunition is taken into Mexico unintentionally.”

    Mexican law also bans shotguns with barrels of less than 25 inches. The family said Hammar’s shotgun has a barrel of 24 inches.

    Tourists are allowed to bring guns for hunting on rare occasions, but Mexican officials said all visitors must receive a special permit before entering the country. Mexican customs agents do not issue gun permits. As a result, anyone crossing the border with a firearm or ammunition without a previously issued government permit is in instant violation of Mexican law, which stipulates long jail terms for breaking weapons laws.

    Each of those statements has been our long-held understanding of Mexican gun laws.

    Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the blame for this didn’t reside with the US Border agents who should have said, “Don’t do it.” The only forms they could have provided would have been to document possession of the weapon when exiting so as to return to the US without owing customs duty, etc.

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