Nicaragua: Free Eric Volz
cross-posted from dailyKos
You probably never heard of Eric Volz. He's a 27 year old American ex-pat who was convicted in Nicaragua in February, 2007, of a murder he didn't commit. In fact, there's an entire mountain of proof that he was 2 hours away in Managua when the murder was committed in San Juan del Sur. But that so far hasn't seemed to matter.
Doris Jimenez was killed Tuesday, November 21, 2006, between 11:45 am and 1:00 pm, in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. Her body was found at about 2:00 pm inside a clothing store she owned. She was tied, strangled and asphyxiated. Doris was popular and attractive and her murder deeply unsettled this small tourist town.
Eric Volz was two hours away in Managua at the time of the murder. Eric, a 27-year old American, had been living in Nicaragua for some two years. Not only were there 10 witnesses who saw him in Managua during the time of the murder, none of the physical evidence recovered from the scene linked Eric to the crime. Indeed, none of the blood, fluid, hair, or other physical evidence collected at the scene had any tie to Eric.
As you probably realize, things that happen south of the big river tend to stay there. You don't hear about events in Nicaragua by reading the MSM. The only way you hear about these things in the US is when US people involved in them campaign to break the silence. Eric is lucky. He has this campaign:
What else do we know about this case? It has barely been reported. Volz is from Nashville, so there is reportage in the Tennesseean.
The story has also pierced the Wall Street Journal(subscription needed).
But in Nicaragua it's big, big news. It is something of a different sort entirely.
The case has become a tabloid sensation in the Central American country, left the family broke and desperately seeking his release through lobbying members of Congress and other officials in Washington — while also appealing the case through the Nicaraguan courts.
The case has fanned anti-American feelings there. His family said at one point early on, a mob of 300 locals wielding machetes and clubs outside the courthouse tried to lynch Volz, who narrowly escaped the crowd as it yelled "gringo." The mob then turned on Volz's attorney and his father, Jan Volz, who said they narrowly escaped as the angry crowd tried to hold back their car.
Of course, Volz and his family need financial and other help. But that's not the reason for this diary.
Volz's problem highlights another issue. Remember Somosa? Iran-Contra? Ronald Reagan? Daniel Ortega, the former Sandinista and the present president of Nicaragua? Remember Ollie North's recent trip to Nicaragua before the presidential election to flex US muscles? Well, the Nicaraguans probably remember all of that pretty doggone well, and they probably remember the US role in aiding the contras, the disappearances, the murders, the dirty war, and on and on and on. They recall their recent misery and who was responsible for it.
Volz personally had nothing to do with any of that history. As a US citizen, can he expect assistance from his government when he has a major problem in a country with which the US has diplomatic relations? Or has the US under Bush finally squandered so much good will in Central America that it really has become an irrelevancy, a paper tiger? Volz needs US diplomatic help. And his case highlights the direct, personal costs to US citizens and tourists of US policies in Central America. It's simply unbelievable that Volz, who desperately needs his country's assistance, has a government that may have thrown away its credibility as well as its ability to be of assistance to him.