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Supporting the troops

23 February 2007

Conditions for the Mexican soldier and sailor seem to be improving.  President Calderón announced he would seek a pay raise during a speech marking Army Day.  Next Monday, the eleven ministers of the Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of the present military code, which calls for the dismissing HIV positive service members.

While the formal ruling is Monday, six of the eleven have stated that such dismissals are unconstitutional, athough their reasoning varies, some arguing that as “workers for the state” the service members are entitled to the same protections and health benefits as other state employees, others arguing that as a signatory to international treaties on the treatment of sereopositives, Mexico is obligated not to discriminate against the soldiers.  The Mexican Constitution already provides for equal treatment under the law, regardless of health condition.

The immediate benefit for HIV-positive soldiers and sailors is continued treatment in military hospitals and continued military benefits.  Mexico has nothing analogous to the Veterans’ Administration in the U.S., and public hospitals and health clinics are often unable to treat HIV/AIDS.

The Mexican Senate, meanwhile, took up the defense of  Agustín Aguayo

Aguayo realized after about one year of service in the military that his beliefs had changed to the point that he could no longer in good conscience be a part of the armed forces. He first applied for discharge as a conscientious objector in February of 2004. While his application was being processed, he was sent to Iraq as a medic, where he refused to load his weapon even when put on guard duty. His application was denied by the Army while he was still in Iraq, but because it had been seriously mishandled, he had a chance to challenge the ruling by filing a habeas corpus in federal court.

A Federal Appeals court turned down his request faces a seven year prison sentence, if convicted at his court martial (scheduled for March 6-7 in Wurtzburg, Germany).

Aguayo was born in Guadajara, Jalisco, and the Mexican Senate has requested the Mexican Ambassador to Germany (where Aguayo is being held) to provide legal assistance, and to guarantee [Aguayo’s] physical and psychologoical integrity”.

Senator Silvano Aureoles, (PRD) said that Aguayo “is a prisoner of conscience, and an unfortunate victim of the bellicose adventurism of George W. Bush.”

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 23 February 2007 7:50 am

    That’s great, the guy refused to load his weapon on guard duty. Nothing like putting your comrades in danger in order to thrust your pacifism in everyone’s face. Go Peace. Woot.


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