By Greg Campbell
As Americans become more and more aware of the plight of fellow American and former Marine Jon Hammar, some members of Congress have made the first steps towards turning the screws on the government of Mexico, who is holding Hammar for a trumped-up weapons charge.
Hammar, a veteran of the Iraq and Afghan wars, has suffered from PTSD since his return home. Looking to recuperate, Hammar and fellow Marine Ian Mcdonough loaded up surfboards onto an RV and set out for Costa Rica. With them was Hammar’s grandfather’s prized antique .410 shotgun- a modest gun good for shooting birds.
It turns out Hammar’s willingness to follow the laws of both the U.S. and Mexico is what landed him in jail as Mexican officials dismissed Hammar’s willingness to be forthcoming with his possession of a gun that several experts have claimed is actually legal to possess in Mexico. Mexican officials have sought to make an example of Hammar by chaining him to a bed in the notorious Matamoros Prison as Mexican cartel members continually threaten his life.
While the Obama administration maintains that they are working to resolve the situation, Hammar’s family disputes the helpfulness of the State Department and Hammar stills remains chained to his bed, where he has been since his August 15th arrest. He faces 12 years in prison and his fate rests in the hands of a judge who will declare him innocent or guilty.
While Americans are increasingly taking notice of Hammar’s situation, the Obama Administration’s silence on the issue has been noticeable. On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, when asked about the Obama Administration’s actions to free the imprisoned American, stated, “I don’t know the facts myself on that.”
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who has been advocating for Hammar’s release, recently received a sharply-worded letter from Mexican Ambassador to the United States Arturo Sarukhan, saying,
“As you know well, Mexico has had very stringent gun-control laws in place for many years, and have reinforced their application as a result of the flow of weapons illicitly purchased in the U.S. and then trafficked into Mexico and into the hands of transnational criminal organizations.”
The Ambassador’s thinly-veiled snark is referencing Operation Fast and Furious, the failed operation by the Justice Department to supposedly track illegally-purchased weapons by allowing them to “walk” over the border into Mexican drug cartels’ hands. However, the Attorney General is currently held in contempt of Congress for his unwillingness to cooperate in the Congressional investigation, it is speculated that the true aim of the operation was to introduce gun violence around the border as a pretense for stricter gun control laws.
Now, two Republican Congressmen, Representatives Michael Grimm and Duncan Hunter, both Marine combat veterans, have called for a travel boycott of Mexico, a country heavily-reliant on its tourism industry.
Calling Hammar’s treatment by Mexico an “absolute disgrace,” Grimm stated,
“Until U.S. Marine Jon Hammar is released, I am calling on all Americans to cancel their vacations to Mexico and not to book any travel there…
Hammar honorably served our country as a U.S. Marine, and we should be doing all we can to bring this innocent hero home.”
Grimm also claimed,
“Marines always follow one rule: Never leave a man behind. As a fellow Marine, I will not leave Jon Hammar behind in Mexico, even if it means I have to go there myself to get him and bring him home.”
Many members of Congress are also concerned that the Obama Administration is not doing all it can to secure Hammar’s release. On Wednesday, nearly 70 members of Congress on both sides of the aisle wrote a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano demanding action.
A Facebook campaign is also currently underway to advocate for Hammar’s release.