An interesting press release (for lack of a better description) from an expatriate couple in the Huatulco area contradicts the woeful story of Peter Kimber, a British Columbia native locked up in an Oaxaca jail who has recently been the subject of nationwide media coverage in Canada.
The Canadian, who was in Mexico with his common-law wife and children, said Mexican authorities tossed him in jail after hotel owners Kevin and Tess Hunneybell supposedly sent the cops after him because of $20,000 that was owed. The money was paid, according to the Hunneybells, for Kimber to construct a building. Kimber's completed work was apparently shoddy.
The couple took exception with this line from The Globe and Mail story on Kimber's plight and the work the Canadian was hired to for:
At a site where he was helping to build a hotel, a dispute developed with the owners who told police that he owed them money.
The Hunneybell's countered:
(Kimber) was NOT ‘helping’ to build the hotel, he WAS the contractor and was paid to do this work. He was later found to be both negligent (unsafe foundations) and illegal (had no permit to work, nor build, nor to remain in the country.)
Kimber's story of spending more than two years in a Mexican jail ran in The Province (Vancouver) on Jan. 31 and later in both national newspapers. Coincidentally, a spate of newspapers stories on Canadians' misfortune have come out around the same time.
This is, unfortunately, part of a feeding frenzy. Canadian newspaper editors generally show a crushing disinterest in Mexican affairs - except when a Canadian tourist meets an untimely end or misfortune. For an alternative opinion on Mexico, a media outlet could run a dispatch from Ajijic, Jalisco, where the Canadian population keeps on swelling each year. It's one of the largest enclaves of Canadians outside of Canada. The Kimber story, though, fits what they're looking for. And, in fairness, Peter Kimber could be the victim of an injustice and his accounts of prison life are certainly hellish.
The Hunneybells perhaps should have scrutinized Kimber's immigration documents - which the couple said were fakes - a little more thoroughly, although in expatriate circles, there tends to be a lot of good will and a willingness to give people the benefit of the doubt. And no shortage of charlatans and people with shady backgrounds pass through.
The other side of this story definitely needs to be reported more thoroughly.
The Mexfiles blog summed up this situation quite nicely and the author quite accurately commented towards the end of his post, "Canadians, for all their good qualities, sometimes can be awfully provincial."
Update: The Globe and Mail reported on Saturday that police in Acapulco impounded a green Nissan Tsuru taxi (aren't all taxis Tsurus in this country?) and are searching for the driver who usually rents the vehicle, which might have struck and killed Ontario native Adam de Prisco on Jan. 7. The family said it hasn't received updates on the case and maintains that de Prisoco was beaten prior to being involved in the hit-and-run collision that two coroners concluded was responsible for his untimely death.